another misattributed quote

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 20 19:41:13 UTC 2012

Allen West put this supposed de Tocqueville in his OpEd today:

> "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can
> only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves
> largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority
> always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the
> public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over
> loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."

Of course, it's not an actual deT quote, but it seems to be a fairly
popular sentiment in certain circles. The quote has been circulating at
least since the 2000 elections, when it was also misattributed to
Alexander Tyler. Snopes does a complete reconstruction and catches what
it believes is the real author, but there are other misdirections as well.
> The "Alexander Tyler" quoted at the head of the article is actually
> Lord Woodhouselee, Alexander Fraser Tytler, a Scottish
> historian/professor who wrote several books in the late 1700s and
> early 1800s. However, there is no record of a Tytler's having authored
> a work entitled /The Fall of the Athenian Republic/ (or /The Decline
> and Fall of the Athenian Republic/), and the quoted material
> attributed to him above is likely apocryphal.

More links and comments at the Snopes site. West's silly OpEd is here . He gets taken behind the woodshed by Steve Benen


The American Dialect Society -

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