My political theory class has been much taken with the fact that it’s hard to grasp Rousseau from a present-day standpoint, and that the politico-social environment in which he was writing is just so radically different from our own. But this passage in the Social Contract stood out to me:
Again, it is true that in such cases it is impossible to be too careful about observing all the formalities required in order to distinguish a regular and legitimate act from a seditious tumult, and the will of an entire people from the clamor of a faction. And it is here above all that one must not grant anything to odious cases except what cannot be refused according to the full rigor of the law…. And it is also from this obligation that the prince derives a great advantage in preserving his power in spite of the people, without anyone being able to say that he has usurped it.
Someone should tell that to the teabaggers (not it!).