20.6.11

Corruption and vices of the rulers in a democracy

"(...) it is much less frightening to witness the immorality of the great than to witness that immorality which leads to greatness. In democracies, ordinary citizens see a man emerging from their ranks and possessing, after a few years, wealth and power; the sight of this arouses their astonishment and envy; they wonder how their equal of yesterday is today invested with the right to be their ruler. It is inconvenient to attribute his rise to his talents or to his virtues because that would mean the admission to themselves that they are less virtuous or less capable than he was. Therefore, they ascribe, often rightly, the principal reason for his success to some of his vices. Thus, there is at work some odious muddle in our ideas of corruption and power, unworthiness and success, usefulness and dishonor."

Alexis de Tocqueville. Democracy in America