What does This is How Democracy Dies mean?
This is how democracy dies – not to be confused with How Democracies Die, a book by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt – refers to a popular misquotation from Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, associated with Padme Amidala.
The original quote goes “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause”.
Online, the two lines are often used on image macro memes, mocking democracy.
What's the origin of This is How Democracy Dies?
Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith premiered in the United States on May 12th, 2005.
In one of the scenes, Chancellor Palpatine announces the creation of the Empire, to which the Senate reacts with cheering, and Senator Amidala with the line “So this is how liberty dies… with thunderous applause”.
An isolated clip of the scene was uploaded to YouTube on November 16th, 2015.
It is unclear, when exactly the misquotation “This is how democracy dies” appeared.
Spread & Usage
How did This is How Democracy Dies spread?
The popularity of “This is how democracy dies” memes and its other variations surged in January 2017, following the victory of Donald Trump in the presidential elections.
These image macro memes and GIFs spread on sites like Reddit’s r/memes and r/PrequelMemes sub, as well as Facebook, 9GAG and Twitter.