Three Little Birds

I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
Thomas Jefferson, 1820

In a democratic form of government, the vote of the most ignorant uninformed citizen counts the same as that of the wisest and most brilliant person in the country. So the preferences of the most affluent and educated people won’t always carry the day. But the alternative is oligarchy, which the vast majority of us would find unacceptable.

I am reminded of two quotes from Winston Churchill:

“The best argument against democracy is a 15 minute conversation with the average voter.”

“Democracy is the worst form of government ever invented, other than every other system that has ever been tried.”

In a classroom of kids, a teacher can only go as fast as the slowest kid.

It’s a beautiful world.

Everything is going to be alright.


19 comments on “Three Little Birds

  1. Ed says:

    One of my favorite Jeffersonian quotes!


  2. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I love Winston Churchill. He is one of my favorite leaders in history. He was a tough gruff leader but just one to get the Brits through the war. My political life started in a liberal setting. My Dad’s generation was one that liberals were the working class and conservatives were the business and rich class. He continued to vote liberal until the day he died at 87. Back in Dad’s early years liberal and conservatives were much different than today. Some time in my early thirties I began to finally think on my own and not ride on my parent’s decisions in life. I discovered that many of the things that liberals stood for were not what I believed to be true and many of the things that conservatives stood for aligned with my beliefs. So I became more conservative which I probably had been all my life but just didn’t know it. I don’t really claim to be either Liberal or Conservative and probably fit in the Independent category.

    I have been on mission trips all through Central America and have seen how other governments function. I’m positive that even with all the issues our way of life is much better than theirs. It’s why we have so many illegal immigrants. They want the better life. We think that we are the only country that has illegal immigrant issues. When I was in Nicaragua, they were so mad that the illegal Guatemalans were taking up the available jobs in their country.

    This was another good post to ponder through out the day.

    Nebraska Dave
    Urban Farmer


    • Bill says:

      I’ve spent some time in the developing world too. It’s good to be reminded of how trivial some of our concerns would be to most of the people in the world.

      We’re going through an interesting time of transition I think, making the old liberal/conservative distinctions hard to apply sometimes. It wasn’t that long ago, for example, that (generally speaking) the workers were Democrats and their bosses were Republicans. It seems that generally isn’t true any more. I read a book recently by Jim Webb, a former Senator from Virginia, and he made the exact same point as you about change in values left so many traditionally liberal/progressive people out in the cold. The old labor/management distinction is mostly gone, and working class values like patriotism, self-reliance and religion are now often ridiculed by progressives. It’s causing a realignment I think.

      In the end it will all work out. We need a good solid base of traditionalists, modernists and post-modernists to keep our culture healthy and in balance. That may mean that changes won’t occur as rapidly as some (including me) may like, but we’ll get there.

      Have a great day Dave!


  3. I always liked Winston Churchill and he was a great leader and think of how things would have turned out if England didn’t have such a great leader. In history lots of Empires have been destroyed by bad leadership. I hope your right Bill and everything will be alright for us this time. I know it will be for the rich but not sure how it will be for the rest of us.


    • Bill says:

      In his book Utopia Thomas More says, “The welfare or ruin of a commonwealth depends upon the character of its officials.” There’s plenty of truth to that, but I think the character of the citizenry is even more important. I have confidence in the citizens, even during the times when it’s hard to have any in the leadership.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Michelle says:

    But tell us, Mr. Jefferson, what to do when so many decline any education! Living in a post-truth (Oxford English Dictionary’s word of 2016) is discouraging at best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      Of course, to be fair, not everyone was allowed to vote in Mr. Jefferson’s day. Only men who owned a certain amount of property had that right. The supposed intent was to limit voters to those who had “sufficient evidence of permanent common interest with, and attachment to, the community.” These kinds of restrictions were justified on the grounds that those who didn’t own property didn’t have enough skin in the game, and, presumably, to exclude those who weren’t educated/intelligent.

      If we required voters to pass a civics exam, or to have a certain level of education, we might be able to eliminate most of the “low information” voters, but at what cost? That’s just not going to happen, so we’re going to have to live with the fact that we’re not always going to end up with the results the best-informed best-educated citizens might prefer. For better or worse, we’re all in it together.


  5. avwalters says:

    I am not so convinced that everything is going to be alright. However, I have read Chicken Little, and outside of a small circle of friends, have come to realize that nobody is listening. Give up? Never! But I live my life quietly, moving ever in the direction of sustainable, if not regenerative. I can only do what I can do.


    • Bill says:

      Folks like you are one of the reasons why I’m optimistic about the future. You’ll inspire a few others, and they in turn will inspire more. Change that matters comes from the bottom up. Someday we’ll have to live sustainably/regeneratively. Hopefully we’ll make that commitment as a society before we’re forced to make it. Either way, that will be where we end up.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I sure hope you are right Bill. I can’t say that I’m feeling that confident… and I’m usually an optimist.


    • Bill says:

      I’m sorry that we’re taking foolish and unjustified risks. But, here we are. We can choose to expect the worst, or we can choose to believe that everything is going to be alright. I have a high level of long-term confidence. In the short term there is certainly plenty of reason to be uneasy, but I do sincerely believe it’s going to be alright.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ain't for city gals says:

    well maybe for the people who read this blog things are going to be alright. We need to help in our own way the other people.


  8. allisonmohr says:

    I’m not at all certain things will be ok. Much of the damage that this administration will do, can be undone. My largest concern is the damage to the environment. If public lands are returned to the states, and the states sell them off to mining interests, they’re ruined forever. I think the next four years are going to see a hobbled press, assaults on voter rights, and a complete disregard for the truth.


  9. thesnowwoman says:

    Winston had the best quotes, thanks for sharing them.


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