… is from page 56 of Lawrence M. Friedman’s 1984 volume, American Law (original emphasis):
For much of our history, we were indeed one of the freest, most democratic, most “equal” countries in the world. Where we were bad, other countries were (and are) much worse. America was never utopia; it has always been a mix of good and bad, plus and minus. It began as an experiment in letting people run their own country. Not all people, but more than were allowed to have power in England or France or anywhere else. The experiment worked. But it also meant that law reflected, and had to reflect great waves of popular sentiment. It could never stray too far from the mean. It could express ideals, it could express “enlightened” opinion, but it could never be dramatically better or worse than the values of articulate people. That was its weakness, and also its strength.
DBx: Ideas matter.