After years of secret slavery the Republican Party and the Democratic Party come out into the open and reveal to themselves and to the nation as nothing but the right wing and the left wing of the same bird of prey. There is not a word in either of their platforms that might not have been written and unanimously endorsed by a convention exclusively of corporation lawyers and Wall Street Bankers. The only difference between these platforms as some one has remarked, is the number of words used to say nothing. Confronted by the gravest crisis in the history of civilization, they have demonstrated, even to their own adherents, that they are without the vision of statesmanship, the courage of leadership or the conviction of patriotism.
I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. "I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs." "I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking." "Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!"
An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.
Attributed to Simon Cameron by Allen Johnson, Chronicles of America Series, Yale University Press, 1918. (Cameron was forced to resign as United States Secretary of War in 1862, due to allegations of corruption).
POLITICS, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. ~ Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary.
POLITICS, n. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage. ~ Ambrose Bierce in The Devil's Dictionary.
All power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Lord Acton, letter to Mandell Creighton, April 1887. Reprinted in John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, Essays on Freedom and Power, 1949, Boston:The Beacon Press, p. 364.
The 20th century has been characterised by three developments of great political importance. The growth of democracy; the growth of corporate power; and the growth of corporate propaganda against democracy.
Alex Carey, Taking the Risk out of Democracy, 1997, University of Illinois Press, ch. 2 p. 18.
The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it. ~ Edward Dowling, Editor and Priest, Chicago Daily News (28 July 1941).
Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.
Winston Churchill, speech in the House of Commons: The Official Report, House of Commons (5th Series), 11 November 1947, vol. 444, cc. 206–07.
If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator. ~ CNN.com, (December 18, 2000) George Bush
Dictators ride to and fro upon tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting hungry.
Winston Churchill, letter with unspecified recipient (November 11, 1937), reported in Winston Churchill, Step by Step: 1936-1939 (1939), p. 159.
The craziest of all political systems, the unique dictatorship, found its earned end. History will note for eternity that the German people were not able on their own initiative to shake off the yoke of the National Socialists. The victory of the Americans, English and Russians was a necessary occurrence to disrupt the National Socialists' delusions and plans for world domination.
Communism was a great system for making people equally poor. In fact, there was no better system in the world for that than communism. -The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.
"Many of our moral and political policies are designed to preempt what we know to be the worst features of human nature. The checks and balances in a democracy, for instance, were invented in explicit recognition of the fact that human leaders will always be tempted to arrogate power to themselves. Likewise, our sensitivity to racism comes from an awareness that groups of humans, left to their own devices, are apt to discriminate and oppress other groups, often in ugly ways. History also tells us that a desire to enforce dogma and suppress heretics is a recurring human weakness, one that has led to recurring waves of gruesome oppression and violence. A recognition that there is a bit of Torquemada in everyone should make us wary of any attempt to enforce a consensus or demonize those who challenge it." ~ What is Your Dangerous Idea? (2007) ed., John Brockman, "Introduction," Steven Pinker, p. xxxi.
Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.
As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence — as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual.
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting that vote.
Author unknown; reported in William F. Shughart, Robert D. Tollison, Policy Challenges and Political Responses (2005), p. 130 (noting that the quote is frequently attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but is anachronistic in that it contains the phrase "to have for lunch", a usage which does not appear until the 1840s).
Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end.
Lord Acton, "Freedom in Antiquity", in The History of Freedom and Other Essays: And Other Essays (1907), p. 22.
To refuse political equality is to rob the ostracized of all self-respect.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton, reported in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Correspondence, Writings, Speeches (1981), p. 249.
Self government is preferable to good government.
Author unknown; variously reported as an old maxim or slogan, as reported in East Africa and Rhodesia (1960), p. 1087, and Douglas Jay, Socialism in the New Society (1962), p. 104; and attributed to authors such as Campbell Bannerman, reported in William White, Notes and Queries (1942), p. 138; Alfred Milner, reported in Vernon McKenzie, Here Lies Goebbels! (1940), p. 184.
A leader has to lead, or otherwise he has no business in politics.
Harry Truman, reported in Merle Miller, Plain Speaking: An Oral Biography of Harry S. Truman (1974), p. 422.
We will stand by our friends and administer a stinging rebuke to men or parties who are either indifferent, negligent, or hostile, and, wherever opportunity affords, to secure the election of intelligent, honest, earnest trade unionists, with clear, unblemished, paid-up union cards in their possession.
Samuel Gompers, "Men of Labor! Be Up and Doing" (editorial), American Federationist (May 1906).
All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies.
Politics and Religion are obsolete. The time has come for Science and Spirituality.
Often quoted by Arthur C. Clarke as one of his favorite remarks of Jawaharlal Nehru, though some of his earliest citations of it, in Voices from the Sky : Previews of the Coming Space Age (1967), p. 154 indicate that Nehru may himself been either quoting or paraphrasing a statement of Vinoba Bhave.
Variant: Die Politik ist keine Wissenschaft, wie viele der Herren Professoren sich einbilden, sondern eine Kunst.
Politics is not a science, as the professors are apt to suppose. It is an art.
Expression in the Reichstag (1884), as quoted in The Quote Verifier : Who Said What, Where, and When (2006) by Ralph Keyes.
Die Politik ist die Lehre vom Möglichen.
Politics is the art of the possible.
Otto von Bismarck, remark to Meyer von Waldeck, 11 August 1867. Quoted in Heinz Amelung, Bismarck-Worte, 1918; as reported in The Yale Book of Quotations, Yale University Press, 2006. This is widely attributed to Bismarck but there is no firsthand account of his exact words, as discussed in Ralph Keyes, The Quote Verifier, Macmillan, 2006.
Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.
Politics is, as it were, the gizzard of society, full of grit and gravel, and the two political parties are its two opposite halves,—sometimes split into quarters, it may be, which grind on each other. Not only individuals, but States, have thus a confirmed dyspepsia, which expresses itself, you can imagine by what sort of eloquence.
This quote has been credited to multiple sources, including Mark Twain, José Maria de Eça de Queiroz (translated from Portuguese), and "unknown, originated around 1992" (see The Big Apple, Entry from December 12, 2009: “Politicians and diapers should both be changed regularly, and for the same reason”)
So far as one can generalize, the most graciouis, cultivated, and innovative people in this country are French Canadians. Certainly they have given us the most exciting politicians of our time: Trudeau, Lévesque. Without them, Canada would be an exceedingly boring and greatly diminished place.
Mordecai Richler, Reported in Donald Smith, D'une nation à l'autre: des deux solitudes à la cohabitation (Montreal: Éditions Alain Stanké, 1997), p. 61.
Our society is run by a managerial bureaucracy, by professional politicians; people are motivated by mass suggestion, their aim is producing more and consuming more, as purposes in themselves.
We learned that Tim Geithner, Barack Obama's top economics guy, vetoed any suggestion that the Irish Government might demand that bank bondholders pay some of their own gambling debts.Some weeks later, face to face with Obama, Enda Kenny chickened out of raising that matter. Face to face with Geithner, Michael Noonan also chickened out. We learned, in short, that Irish politicians are tough when they're taking money away from blind people.
Gene Kerrigan, "Austerity doesn't work? No problem." Sunday Independent, December 18 2011.
When I see the worsening degeneracy in our politicians, our media, our educators, and our intelligentsia, I can’t help wondering if the day may yet come when the only thing that can save this country is a military coup.
He gave it for his opinion, that whosoever could make two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together.
The main mark of modern governments is that we do not know who governs, de facto any more than de jure. We see the politician and not his backer; still less the backer of the backer; or, what is most important of all, the banker of the backer.
Throned above all, in a manner without parallel in all past, is the veiled prophet of finance, swaying all men living by a sort of magic, and delivering oracles in a language not understood of the people.
Public safety, domestic security, and gun controlEdit
A great many sportsmen have urged me to support this bill. It is hard for me to understand the interest of sportsmen in pistols. I myself have fished and hunted a great deal. I have a deep interest in outdoor sports and the various associations which foster them, but it is common knowledge, of course, that fishermen never use a pistol and hunters practically never use a pistol... [even for] theoretical self-protection, the value of a revolver is very problematical.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1931, opposing the Hanley-Fake firearms bill which would have increased access to hanguns. Quoted in Gun Violence in America:The Struggle for Control, Alexander DeConde, 2003 (p.132).
By... our readiness to allow arms to be purchased at will and fired at whim; by allowing our movie and television screens to teach our children that the hero is one who masters the art of shooting and the technique of killing; by allowing all of these developments, we have created an atmosphere in which violence and hatred have become popular pastimes.
Martin Luther King, Jr., November 1963. Quoted in I have a Dream: the Life and Times of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Lenwood G. Davis, 1973. (p.266).
No freeman shall ever be debarred the use of arms.
Most gun dealers follow the law and run honest businesses. But the statistics show that 1 percent of dealers sell more than half of all illegal guns. Why isn't the federal government going after them? Here's one reason: unlike mayors, members of Congress don't get a phone call in the middle of the night when a cop is shot and killed. They don't deliver the eulogies.
Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man gainst his own bosom. Congress have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birthright of an American. The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but, where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the people.
Tenche Coxe, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Feb. 20, 1788.
The right of the citizens to bear arms in defense of themselves and the state shall not be questioned.
Pennsylvania Constitution of 1790.
To "bear arms" is, in itself, a military term. One does not bear arms against a rabbit.
Garry Wills, "To Keep and Bear Arms", The New York Review of Books", September 21, 1995.
Take the so-called politics of fear — the constant reference to risks, from hoodies on the street corner to international terrorism. Whatever the truth of these risks and the best ways of dealing with them, the politics of fear plays on an assumption that people cannot bear the uncertainties associated with them. Politics then becomes a question of who can better deliver an illusion of control.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society. In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Dwight Eisenhower, Farewell address, January 17, 1961; Final TV Talk 1/17/61 (1), Box 38, Speech Series, Papers of Dwight D. Eisenhower as President, 1953–61, Eisenhower Library; National Archives and Records Administration.
It is necessary that I should qualify the doctrine of its being not men, but measures, that I am determined to support. In a monarchy it is the duty of parliament to look at the men as well as at the measures.
Away with the cant of "Measures, not men!"—the idle supposition that it is the harness and not the horses that draw the chariot along. No Sir, if the comparison must be made, if the distinction must be taken, men are everything, measures comparatively nothing.
Nam ego in ista sum sententia, qua te fuisse semper scio, nihil ut feurit in suffragiis voce melius.
I am of the opinion which you have always held, that "viva voce" voting at elections is the best method.
Cicero, De Legibus, III. 15. Philippics, IV. 4. Tacitus, Agricola, Chapter III.
It is a condition which confronts us—not a theory.
Laissez faire, laissez passer.
Let it alone. Let it pass by.
Colbert, according to Lord John Russell. See report of his speech in the London Times, April 2, 1840. Attributed to Gournay, Minister of Commerce, at Paris, 1751. Also to Quesnay. Quoted by Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations.
Free trade is not a principle, it is an expedient.
Benjamin Disraeli, Vivian Gray, Chapter XIV. Given by Walsh as first appearance of the phrase "practical politics".
All the ten-to-oners were in the rear, and a dark horse, which had never been thought of, and which the careless St. James had never even observed in the list, rushed past the grand stand in sweeping triumph.
Like an armed warrior, like a plumed knight, James G. Blaine marched down the halls of the American Congress and threw his shining lance full and fair against the brazen foreheads of the defamers of his country, and the maligners of his honor.
If a due participation of office is a matter of right, how are vacancies to be obtained? Those by death are few; by resignation, none.
Usually quoted, "Few die and none resign." Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elias Shipman and Merchants of New Haven (July 12, 1801).
Of the various executive abilities, no one excited more anxious concern than that of placing the interests of our fellow-citizens in the hands of honest men, with understanding sufficient for their stations. No duty is at the same time more difficult to fulfil. The knowledge of character possessed by a single individual is of necessity limited. To seek out the best through the whole Union, we must resort to the information which from the best of men, acting disinterestedly and with the purest motives, is sometimes incorrect.
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Elias Shipman and Merchants of New Haven (July 12, 1801). Paraphrased as "Put the right man in the right place" by John Bach McMaster, History of the People of the United States Volume II, p. 586.
Better a hundred times an honest and capable administration of an erroneous policy than a corrupt and incapable administration of a good one.
E. J. Phelps, at a dinner of the New York Chamber of Commerce (Nov. 19, 1889).
The White Plume of Navarre.
Name given to New York Tribune during the Civil War. See Wendell Phillips, Under the Flag (Boston, April 21, 1861).
A weapon that comes down as still
As snowflakes fall upon the sod;
But executes a freeman's will,
As lightning does the will of God;
And from its force, nor doors nor locks
Can shield you; 'tis the ballot-box.
A mugwump is a person educated beyond his intellect.
Horace Porter, A Bon-Mot in Cleveland Blaine Campaign, (1884).
Abstain from beans.
Pythagoras. Advice against political voting, which was done by means of beans. See Lucian Gallus, IV. 5. Vitarum Auctio. Sect. 6. The superstition against beans was prevalent in Egypt however. See Herodotus, II. 37, also Sextus Empiricus. Explanations to abstain from beans from lost treatise of Aristotle in Diog. Laertes, VIII. 34. Beans had an oligarchical character on account of their use in voting. Plutarch gives a similar explanation in De Educat, Chapter XVII. Caution against entering public life, for the votes by which magistrates were elected were originally given by beans. Pythagoras referred to by Jeremy Taylor—Holy Living. Section IV, p. 80.
I will drive a coach and six through the Act of Settlement.
Stephen Rice, quoted by Macaulay, History of England, Chapter XII. Familiarly known as "Drive a coach and six through an Act of Parliament".
There is a homely old adage which runs: "Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far." If the American nation will speak softly and yet build and keep at a pitch of the highest training a thoroughly efficient navy, the Monroe Doctrine will go far.
Quotes reported in James William Norton-Kyshe, The Dictionary of Legal Quotations (1904), p. 196-198.
It cannot but occur to every person's observation, that as long as parties exist in the country (and perhaps it is for the good of the country that parties should exist to a certain degree, because they keep ministers on their guard in their conduct), they will have their friends and adherents. A great political character, who held a high situation in this country some years ago, but who is now dead, used to say that ministers were the better for being now and then a little peppered and salted. And while these parties exist, they will have their friendships and attainments, which will sometimes dispose them to wander from argument to declamation.
Lord Kenyon, Holt's Case (1793), 22 How. St. Tr. 1234.
The learned counsel has very properly avoided all political discussions unconnected with the subject, and I shall follow his example. Courts of justice have nothing to do with them.
Kenyon, L.C.J., Trial of John Vint and others (1799), 27 How. St. Tr. 640.
There may be cases in which there is so much of difficulty in knowing where the law stands that we take time to consider, and sometimes doubt much and sometimes differ among ourselves. But I believe every one of the Judges acts upon the principle that he is before man and God in the discharge of his duty, and acts upon his solemn oath, and declares tbe law not according to any political fancy, or for [the purposes of serving one party or serving another, but according to the pure conviction of his own mind without looking to any party.
Bayley, J., Case of Edmonds and others (1821), 1 St. Tr. (N. S.) 899.
The Constitution does not allow reasons of State to influence our judgments: God forbid it should! We must not regard political consequences, how formidable soever they might be: if rebellion was the certain consequence, we are bound to say, "Fiat justitia mat caelum." The Constitution trusts the King with reasons of State and policy; he may stop prosecutions,1 he may pardon offences2; it is his, to judgewhetherthelaworthecriminalshould yield. We have no election.
Political arguments, in the fullest sense of the word, as they concern the government of a nation, must be, and always have been, of great weight in the consideration of the Court.
Lord Hardwicke, The Earl of Chesterfield v. Janssen (1750), 1 Atk. 352; id. 2 Ves. Sen. 153.
I am in too high a situation to fear any man or class of men. I thank God I am in a position which puts me above politics.
Earl of Clonwell, Case of Glennan and others (1796), 26 How. St. Tr. 459.
One cannot look too closely at and weigh in too golden scales the acts of men hot in their political excitement.
Hawkins, J., Ex parte Castioni (1890), 60 L. J. Rep. (N. S.) Mag. Cas. 33.
Men argue differently, from natural phenomena and political appearances: they have different capacities, different degrees of knowledge, and different intelligence. But the means of information and judging are open to both: each professes to act from his own skill and sagacity; and, therefore, neither needs to communicate to the other.