Letter To The Editor: A Quick Search Leads To Questions

By ED BIRNBAUM
Los Alamos

I am not an historian, but a quick search for Daren Savage’s statement, published in the Los Alamos Daily Post June 19, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote.”, comes back with the following statement about the quote from Wikipedia:

“Widely attributed to Franklin on the Internet, sometimes without the second sentence. It is not found in any of his known writings, and the word “lunch” is not known to have appeared anywhere in English literature until the 1820s, decades after his death. The phrasing itself has a very modern tone and the second sentence especially might not even be as old as the Internet.”

There is of course no guarantee that the information stated on Wikipedia is correct, but in the absence of any well-documented reference to the contrary, I would prefer to rely on Wikipedia.

Savage is of course correct that the United States is a constitutional republic, but that doesn’t mean there are no “democratic” elements in the way our government functions. It does mean that we don’t pass laws
at the federal level based on popular votes of all the citizens.

It is no accident that “We the People” appears in large bold letters in the preamble to the Constitution. So while we are not an Athens-style democracy, democratic principles are firmly embedded in how our government functions at the federal, state and local levels.

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