Democracy Quotations

The official's heart must stand at attention before his mind.
A. A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky

The highest measure of democracy is neither the 'extent of freedom' nor the 'extent of equality', but rather the highest measure of participation.
A. d. Benoist

Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.
Abbie Hoffman

Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman.
Adam Michnik

A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai Ewing Stevenson

Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
African proverb

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.
Alan Coren

Freedom is when the people can speak, democracy is when the government listens.
Alastair Farrugia

Dictatorships are one-way streets. Democracy boasts two-way traffic.
Albert Moravia

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.
Alice Walker

We must all live so that our children do not have to pay for our deeds.
Andrejs Upits

Tyranny and despotism can be exercised by many, more rigourously, more vigourously, and more severely, than by one.
Andrew Johnson

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.
Aristotle

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.
Aristotle

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Aristotle

The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid.
Art Spander

That's free enterprise, friends: freedom to gamble, freedom to lose. And the great thing – the truly democratic thing about it – is that you don't even have to be a player to lose.
Barbara Ehrenreich

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always reach a wise decision. He should however believe in the necessity of accepting the decision of the majority, be it wise or unwise, until such a time that the majority reaches another decision.
Bertrand Russell

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
Bill Vaughan

We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.
Blaise Pascal

Those wanting to improve democracy in their countries should not wait for permission.
Bulent Ecevit

Democracy means decision by those concerned.
Carl-Friedrich von Weizsaecker

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.
Charles de Gaulle

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him.
Charles De Gaulle

In a democracy everybody has a right to be represented, including the jerks.
Chris Patten

Democracy: In which you say what you like and do what you're told.
Dave Barry

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.
E. B. White

Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
E.M. Forster

Freedom without obligation is anarchy. Freedom with obligation is democracy.
Earl Riney

The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy; the best weapon of a democracy is openness.
Edvard Teller

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
Edward Abbey

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Elie Wiesel

Only the educated are free.
Epictetus

He who allows oppression, shares the crime.
Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin

When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.
Eugene V. Debs

Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom.
F.A. Hayek

It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.
Frederick Douglass

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.
Frederick Douglass

Arbitrary rule has its basis, not in the strength of the state or the chief, but in the moral weakness of the individual, who submits almost without resistance to the domineering power.
Friedrich Hatzel

Democratic institutions form a system of quarantine for tyrannical desires.
Friedrich Nietzsche

In free countries, every man is entitled to express his opinions and every other man is entitled not to listen.
G. Norman Collie

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
Galbraith's Law

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
George Bernard Shaw

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
George Jean Nathan

One sharp, stern struggle, and the slaves of centuries are free.
George Massey

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
Giordano Bruno

A pedestal is as much a prison as any small space.
Gloria Steinem

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.
Gunther Grass

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.
H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals refrain from as a matter of common decency.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be lead to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law…that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The argument that capital punishment degrades the state is moonshine, for if that were true then it would degrade the state to send men to war…The state, in truth, is degraded in its very nature: a few butcheries cannot do it any further damage.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The official's heart must stand at attention before his mind.
A. A. Bestuzhev-Marlinsky

The highest measure of democracy is neither the 'extent of freedom' nor the 'extent of equality', but rather the highest measure of participation.
A. d. Benoist

Democracy is not something you believe in or a place to hang your hat, but it's something you do. You participate. If you stop doing it, democracy crumbles.
Abbie Hoffman

Elections belong to the people. It is their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln

As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

The ballot is stronger than the bullet.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

As a rule, dictatorships guarantee safe streets and terror of the doorbell. In democracy the streets may be unsafe after dark, but the most likely visitor in the early hours will be the milkman.
Adam Michnik

A free society is one where it is safe to be unpopular.
Adlai Ewing Stevenson

Until lions have their historians, tales of the hunt shall always glorify the hunter.
African proverb

Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear.
Alan Coren

Freedom is when the people can speak, democracy is when the government listens.
Alastair Farrugia

Dictatorships are one-way streets. Democracy boasts two-way traffic.
Albert Moravia

The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any.
Alice Walker

We must all live so that our children do not have to pay for our deeds.
Andrejs Upits

Tyranny and despotism can be exercised by many, more rigourously, more vigourously, and more severely, than by one.
Andrew Johnson

If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.
Aristotle

Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers.
Aristotle

It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
Aristotle

The great thing about democracy is that it gives every voter a chance to do something stupid.
Art Spander

That's free enterprise, friends: freedom to gamble, freedom to lose. And the great thing – the truly democratic thing about it – is that you don't even have to be a player to lose.
Barbara Ehrenreich

Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!
Benjamin Franklin

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
Benjamin Franklin

A democrat need not believe that the majority will always reach a wise decision. He should however believe in the necessity of accepting the decision of the majority, be it wise or unwise, until such a time that the majority reaches another decision.
Bertrand Russell

A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
Bill Vaughan

We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.
Blaise Pascal

Those wanting to improve democracy in their countries should not wait for permission.
Bulent Ecevit

Democracy means decision by those concerned.
Carl-Friedrich von Weizsaecker

In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.
Charles de Gaulle

Since a politician never believes what he says, he is surprised when others believe him.
Charles De Gaulle

In a democracy everybody has a right to be represented, including the jerks.
Chris Patten

Democracy: In which you say what you like and do what you're told.
Dave Barry

Politics ought to be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage.
Dwight D. Eisenhower

Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half the time.
E. B. White

Spoon feeding in the long run teaches us nothing but the shape of the spoon.
E.M. Forster

Freedom without obligation is anarchy. Freedom with obligation is democracy.
Earl Riney

The best weapon of a dictatorship is secrecy; the best weapon of a democracy is openness.
Edvard Teller

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
Edward Abbey

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.
Elie Wiesel

Only the educated are free.
Epictetus

He who allows oppression, shares the crime.
Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of Charles Darwin

When great changes occur in history, when great principles are involved, as a rule the majority are wrong. The minority are right.
Eugene V. Debs

Perhaps the fact that we have seen millions voting themselves into complete dependence on a tyrant has made our generation understand that to choose one's government is not necessarily to secure freedom.
F.A. Hayek

It's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
Francois Marie Arouet Voltaire

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them.
Frederick Douglass

The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.
Frederick Douglass

Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want rain without thunder and lightning.
Frederick Douglass

Arbitrary rule has its basis, not in the strength of the state or the chief, but in the moral weakness of the individual, who submits almost without resistance to the domineering power.
Friedrich Hatzel

Democratic institutions form a system of quarantine for tyrannical desires.
Friedrich Nietzsche

In free countries, every man is entitled to express his opinions and every other man is entitled not to listen.
G. Norman Collie

Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.
Galbraith's Law

Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve.
George Bernard Shaw

The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.
George Bernard Shaw

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
George Jean Nathan

One sharp, stern struggle, and the slaves of centuries are free.
George Massey

It is proof of a base and low mind for one to wish to think with the masses or majority, merely because the majority is the majority. Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people.
Giordano Bruno

A pedestal is as much a prison as any small space.
Gloria Steinem

Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.
Groucho Marx

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open.
Gunther Grass

Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.
H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Freedom of press is limited to those who own one.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Of government, at least in democratic states, it may be said briefly that it is an agency engaged wholesale, and as a matter of solemn duty, in the performance of acts which all self-respecting individuals refrain from as a matter of common decency.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be lead to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction in stolen goods.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The trouble with Communism is the Communists, just as the trouble with Christianity is the Christians.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is the fundamental theory of all the more recent American law…that the average citizen is half-witted, and hence not to be trusted to either his own devices or his own thoughts.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

It is inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible for public office.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

The argument that capital punishment degrades the state is moonshine, for if that were true then it would degrade the state to send men to war…The state, in truth, is degraded in its very nature: a few butcheries cannot do it any further damage.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

A professional politician is a professionally dishonorable man. In order to get anywhere near high office he has to make so many compromises and submit to so many humiliations that he becomes indistinguishable from a streetwalker.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Giving every man a vote has no more made men wise and free than Christianity has made them good.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Firmness in decision is often merely a form of stupidity. It indicates an inability to think the same thing out twice.
H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

Democracy is based upon the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people.
Harry Emerson Fosdick

Democracy cannot be forced upon a society, neither is it a gift that can be held forever. It has to be struggled hard for and defended everyday anew.
Heinz Galinski

Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
Helen Keller

The majority is never right. Never, I tell you! That's one of these lies in society that no free and intelligent man can help rebelling against. Who are the people that make up the biggest proportion of the population – the intelligent ones or the fools?
Henrik Ibsen

That government is best which governs least.
Henry David Thoreau

If…the machine of government…is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.
Henry David Thoreau

A society of sheep must in time beget a government of wolves.
Henry de Jouvenel

It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.
Herbert Clark Hoover

Calm and order can be just as dangerous to democracy as uneasiness and disorder.
Hildegard Hamm-Bruecher

The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously.
Hubert H. Humphrey

Complete equality isn't compatible with democracy, but it is agreeable to totalitarianism. After all the only way to ensure the equality of the slothful, the inept and the immoral is to suppress everyone else.
Iain Benson

Liberty is the possibility of doubting, the possibility of making a mistake, the possibility of searching and experimenting, the possibility of saying No to any authority – literary, artistic, philosophic, religious, social, and even political.
Ignazio Silone

Democracy does not guarantee equality of conditions – it only guarantees equality of opportunity.
Irving Kristol

So many, though reluctant to admit it, shun clever men, and rather suffer fools.
Ivan Krylov

In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects.
J. W. Fulbright

The disposition of all power is to abuses, nor does it at all mend the matter that its possessors are a majority.
James Fenimore Cooper

The advancement and diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.
James Madison

Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor.
James Russell Lowell

Democracy is good. I say this because other systems are worse.
Jawaharlal Nehru

Democracy means having the choice. Dictatorship means being given the choice.
Jeannine Luczak

The price of the democratic way of life is a growing appreciation of people's differences, not merely as tolerable, but as the essence of a rich and rewarding human experience.
Jerome Nathanson

In politics, an organized minority is a political majority.
Jesse Jackson

The voice of the majority is no proof of justice.
Johann von Schiller

Democracy does not race, it reaches the finish slowly but surely.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

A free government is a complicated piece of machinery, the nice and exact adjustment of whose springs, wheels, and weights, is not yet well comprehended by the artists of the age, and still less by the people.
John Adams to Thomas Jefferson

Any doctrine that weakens personal responsibility for judgment and for action helps create the attitudes that welcome and support the totalitarian state.
John Dewey

Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.
John F. Kennedy

Life in freedom is not easy, and democracy is not perfect.
John F. Kennedy

Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Democracy encourages the majority to decide things about which the majority is blissfully ignorant.
John Simon

Those who suppress freedom always do so in the name of law and order.
John V. Lindsay

No man's life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.
Judge Gideon J. Tucker

I personally call the type of government which can be removed without violence 'democracy,' and the other, 'tyranny.'
Karl Popper

It is wrong to ask who will rule. The ability to vote a bad government out of office is enough. That is democracy.
Karl Popper

We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never a candidate.
Kin Hubbard

Those believing they have not voted are mistaken, for their indifference affects all our futures.
M.A. Denck

In matters of conscience, the law of majority has no place.
Mahatma Gandhi

There is no reason to believe that there is one law for families and another for nations.
Mahatma Gandhi

Civil disobedience becomes a sacred duty when the state becomes lawless or corrupt.
Mahatma Gandhi

Democracy and violence can ill go together.
Mahatma Gandhi

The spirit of democracy cannot be superimposed from the outside. It must come from within.
Mahatma Gandhi

Democracy means: Sticking to the rules of the game, even when the referee is not looking.
Manfred Hausmann

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.
Margaret Mead

In actual fact those who do not care for politics and sit on the fence do indeed side for a political party: The ruling party.
Max Frisch

Everybody's for democracy in principle. It's only in practice that the thing gives rise to stiff objections.
Meg Greenfield

The Constitution, in a very significant sense, is not a mechanism for making decisions but preventing them.
Michael Gilson De Lomos

Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.
Mignon McLaughlin

In democracy its your vote that counts. In feudalism its your count that votes.
Mogens Jallberg

In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility.
Norman Cousins

Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
Oscar Wilde

Laws are like sausages. You sleep far better the less you know about how they are made.
Otto Von Bismark

Politicians are always interested in people. Not that this is always a virtue. Fleas are interested in dogs.
P.J. O’Rourke

Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
Paulo Freire

The common people suffer when the powerful disagree.
Phaedrus

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.
Plato

Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike.
Plato

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
Plato

Justice will only exist where those not affected by injustice are filled with the same amount of indignation as those offended.
Plato

There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship.
Ralph Nader

Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
Reinhold Niebuhr

The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.
Robert Hutchins

Democracy is a form of government in which it is permitted to wonder aloud what the country could do under first-class management.
Senator Soaper

Good government could never be a substitute for government by the people themselves.
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, British Prime Minister

Democracy, as has been said of Christianity, has never really been tried.
Stuart Chase

The flood of money that gushes into politics today is a pollution of democracy.
Theodore H. White

Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.
Thomas Jefferson

It is the old practice of despots to use a part of the people to keep the rest in order.
Thomas Jefferson

The most serious threat to democracy is the notion that it has already been achieved.
Unknown

Democracy is a government where you can say what you think even if you don't think.
Unknown

He who fox-like got his rank, Is wolf-like in his office.
V. A. Zhukovsky

People aren't angels woven of light, but neither are they beasts to be driven into stalls.
Vladimir Korolenko

The pleasure of governing must certainly be exquisite, if we may judge from the vast numbers who are eager to be concerned with it.
Voltaire

A great many laws in a country, like many physicians, is a sign of malady.
Voltaire

The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.
Winston Churchill

Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried from time to time.
Winston Churchill

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