Quote of the day–Jeff Cooper

In observing our political scene, it is necessary to remember that in any democracy the absolute goal of the politician is power. Not money, power. This means that the only thing of any consequence to a politician is re-election. He will walk on eyeballs to be re-elected, and the only time that principle means anything to him is when it happens to coincide with what appears to him the best course towards his own re-election. Now the only way to get power is to take it from someone who already has it. Under our system, the theory is that the people at large are sovereign and have the power, but the only way the politician can achieve power is to take it from the people who already have it – or should have it. This makes for a permanent conflict in principle between the voter and his representative. This is not cheerful, but it is nonetheless a fact.

Of the three systems of government enunciated by Aristotle – monarchy (tyranny), aristocracy (oligarchy), and polity (democracy) – polity (democracy) is the best, not because of its inherent virtue, but because of its basic lack of efficiency. An inefficient government is best for the people, simply because it is inherently incapable of doing anything well, and the less it does the better.


Jeff Cooper
From Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries
Vol. 5, No. 2
February 1997