Miscellaneous (한 + EN)

Public opinion

2019-10-08 22:13
"Public opinion is milder and less explicit than political authority, yet more confining than mere social agreement. It is political and social combined, with a shift of weight from the former to the latter. "Public" opinion takes opinion out of private society and places it in broad daylight, to use one of Tocqueville's favorite phrases. Public and private are blurred together, and it becomes clear that democracy is government by public opinion. Private opinion ... tends to disappear; ... We see why Tocqueville put little trust in the power of representative institutions to hold out against the people's desires: public opinion makes the people's representatives conform to their desires regardless of the apparent latitude that representative offices with constitutional terms might seem to afford. He would have seen the public opinion polls of our day as vivid confirmation."

— Editor's Introduction to Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop, xlv