Al Smith on Democracy

In 1925, a handful of extremely wealthy Long Island residents tried to thwart state plans to run highways from New York City through Long Island to beaches that the masses could enjoy. These wealthy people were understandably upset, that part of their property would be taken away to make room for highways and the like. But they resisted to the point of inflexibility, and the millions of lower and middle class New York City residents who hoped to find weekend refuge from summer heat looked like they would be shut down by a few dozen multimillionaires. But Gov. Al Smith was not happy with this arrangement. And in a speech arguing in favor of these parks and beaches, he also made some pretty profound statements about democracy:

The cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy. Let us battle it out right in the shadow of the capitol itself and let us have a decision, and let us not permit the impression to go abroad that wealth and the power that wealth can command can palsy the arm of the state.

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