"In a democracy, the people get the government they deserve"

I have gotten into real strife by modifying the above quote by taking out the 'In a democracy' part. Mostly, I just say "Yeah, you'er right and I'm wrong" when the person I am arguing with starts talking about their horrible personal tragedy and then begin to cry. 

The thing is I actually mean in in a positive way. The French had a revolution; they got, eventually, a great country to live in. When we all listen to our consciences we create great things and get the governments we deserve. When we act on our greed, fear and jealousy, well we also get the governments we deserve.  

The greatest threat to good government, of any kind, is to say: 'they must do something'. There is no "they" there is only ever "us" and what "we" are doing or failing to do.