The first necessary element of democratic politics is difference of opinion, robust, frank, avowed, firmly and passionately held, and the first test of political capacity in a democratic nation is to bear these differences of opinion, however strong and even vehement, without disruption. In a monarchy differences of opinion are either stifled by an all-powerful absolute will or subordinated and kept in check by the supreme kingly arbiter; in an aristocracy the jealousy of a close body discourages free opinion and its free expression; in a bureaucracy stereotyped habits of action and method lead to a fixed and inelastic way of thinking and difference of opinion, when tolerated, is kept by the exigencies of administration private and largely ineffective.
It is democracy alone that demands free divergence of opinion in politics and open propagandism and debate as the very breath of its nostrils. The tendency to democracy creates freedom of speech and thought and these in their turn hasten the advent of democracy. All attempts to silence by force or evasion important differences of opinion are anti-democratic and though they do not necessarily show an incapacity for government, do show an incapacity for democratic politics. The democratic tendency in humanity is and has long been pressing forward victoriously to self-fulfilment and the modern attempt of the banded forces of autocracy, bureaucracy, plutocracy and theocracy to turn its march can only result in its growing stronger by the check and urging forward with greater impetuosity to its goal. It is therefore the democratic tendency and the democratic capacity which must be accepted and shown by any nation which aspires to go forward and be among the leaders of the world.
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