What did Ben Franklin mean when he said, Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for dinner?

Mr. Franklin was a great champion of democracy and even risked his life to create a democratic government in America. Was he a flip-flopper?

13 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Democracy risks being the tyranny of the majority over the minority. Two wolves. One sheep. Whose wishes for dinner will prevail? Not the sheep. That is why a constitution is such an important element in any democracy; it protects a set of inalienable rights of the minority from the potential tyranny of the majority.

    I would not say Franklin was a flip-flopper. Rather, he realized the potential danger that a majority could impose on a minority.

    It scary when the majority wants to change their country's constitution as a means of imposing their will. For example, a majority of people would support an amendment to the constitution to prevent the burning of a flag. Such an amendment would be denying others their freedom of speech. I am strongly opposed to such type amendments. The constitution should be used to ensure rights of its citizens, not take them away.

  • 7 years ago

    Franklin was not a fan or proponent of a "Democracy", nor were any of the founders.

    The United States, despite what everyone says today, wasn't intended to be a democracy, it was intended to be a republic (as in "....and to the Republic for which it stands...").

    The difference is that in a democracy, whatever the simple majority says, goes.

    If the majority of people decide that freedom of speech, or freedom of religion, or any other freedom sucks, they can just vote to get rid of it.

    In a republic, there are laws and rights, codified in the Constitution, that can't be negated by a simple majority vote.

    Democracies can only last until the people figure out that they can vote themselves goodies from the government. The party that promises the most free-crap will always wins. To stay in power, they need to provide more free crap. To provide more free crap, they have to take more taxes. The more taxes they take the less freedom there is. There's an inverse relationship between the size of the government and the freedom of the governed.

  • 1 decade ago

    I have not read about his thoughts but here's my view:

    1. Some thinkers have indicated that you cannot make a free choice unless there is a minimum of 3 options, for having only 2 options is not choice - its a dilemma!

    2. Democracy is about freedom of choice, hence choice between 3 parties at a minimum.

    3. Since in any situation, its always ending up with 2 strong players (the wolves), giving democracy a semblance of choice will always end up having a sheep as the 3rd option.

  • 1 decade ago

    When Franklin said that, he had no intention of meaning the sheep would be eaten. He knew the principal of minority rights and even though the majority would have wanted to eat the sheep, democracy has a whole would not allow it. It is saying that democracy protects all citizens.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    In my opinion, what he means is that even though democracy is great, there will always be those that will not agree with the others and will therefore be unhappy with it. Ive heard it said before that of all the types of government, democracy is the best worst one. Though it is good and maybe the best for the people, it will never be able to satisfy all of the people. There is no government that ever will

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Democracy is a majority rules situation. The sheep might get to decide what is for dinner, but more often than not, the wolves decide.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Wow, not a lot of clue-heavy people responding.

    He meant that the two parties (Democratic and Republican) were wolves, and the people were the sheep and that the wolves were going to make decisions based on the fact that THEY were the ones with the power and that the people would suffer because of it.

    He was talking about how the people fool themselves into believing that they actually have a significant role to play in decision-making when dealing with a two-party system.

  • 4 years ago

    that's each and every of the wolves and each and every of the sheeps of a particular farm balloting anyonymously what's for dinner. properly possibly no longer that anyonymously because you could guess the wolf and the sheep from the dfferent kinds of nutrition that has been voted for. Sorry i'd were given somewhat over excited.

  • 1 decade ago

    he meant that democracy is something that they should share. what he sid is that the two wolves should share the sheep than searching for something else

    Source(s): my brain
  • 1 decade ago

    The minority has the right to debate, but in the end the majority rules.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.