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Quotations about politics

It is not in the nature of politics that the best men should be elected. The best men do not want to govern their fellowmen.

 - George E. MacDonald

Carl SaganWhen we consider the founders of our nation: Jefferson, Washington, Samuel and John Adams, Madison and Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, Tom Paine and many others; we have before us a list of at least ten and maybe even dozens of great political leaders. They were well educated. Products of the European Enlightenment, they were students of history. They knew human fallibility and weakness and corruptibility. They were fluent in the English language. They wrote their own speeches. They were realistic and practical, and at the same time motivated by high principles.

They were not checking the pollsters on what to think this week. They knew what to think. They were comfortable with long-term thinking, planning even further ahead than the next election. They were self-sufficient, not requiring careers as politicians or lobbyists to make a living. They were able to bring out the best in us. They were interested in and, at least two of them, fluent in science. They attempted to set a course for the United States into the far future -- not so much by establishing laws as by setting limits on what kinds of laws could be passed.

The Constitution and its Bill of Rights have done remarkably well, constituting, despite human weaknesses, a machine able, more often than not, to correct its own trajectory. At that time, there were only about two and a half million citizens of the United States. Today there are about a hundred times more. So if there were ten people of the caliber of Thomas Jefferson then, there ought to be 10 x 100 = 1,000 Thomas Jefferson's today. Where are they?

 - Carl Sagan

Thomas JeffersonThe greatest good we can do our country is to heal it's party divisions and make them one people. I do not speak of their leaders who are incurable, but of the honest and well-intentioned body of the people.

 - Thomas Jefferson

Bill GatesOur modern lifestyle is not a political creation. Before 1700, everybody was poor as hell. Life was short and brutish. It wasn't because we didn't have good politicians; we had some really good politicians. But then we started inventing, electricity, steam engines, microprocessors, understanding genetics and medicine and things like that. Yes, stability and education are important. I'm not taking anything away from that, but innovation is the real driver of progress.

 - Bill Gates

Groucho MarxPolitics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

 - Groucho Marx

George OrwellPolitical language -- and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists -- is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

 - George Orwell

Ralph Waldo EmersonA sect or party is an elegant incognito devised to save a man from the vexation of thinking.

 - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Stephen KingAs a species we're fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion? - Stephen King

 - Stephen King

Michael CrichtonLet's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.

 - Michael Crichton

Ray BradburyWe must move into the universe. Mankind must save itself. We must escape the danger of war and politics. We must become astronauts and go out into the universe and discover the God in ourselves.

 - Ray Bradbury

When the government's boot is on your throat, whether it is a left boot or a right boot is of no consequence.

 - Gary Lloyd

Martin NiemöllerFor politicians truth and falsehood are unimportant. So I never could become a politician -- not even a church politician.

 - Martin Niemöller

platoOne of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

 - Plato

Thomas MannThis fantastic state of mind, of a humanity that has outrun its ideas, is matched by a political scene in the grotesque style, with Salvation Army methods, hallelujahs and bell-ringing and dervishlike repetition of monotonous catchwords, until everybody foams at the mouth. Fanaticism turns into a means of salvation, enthusiasm into epileptic ecstasy, politics becomes an opiate for the masses, a proletarian eschatology; and reason veils her face.

 - Thomas Mann

Edward AbbeyAnarchism is founded on the observation that since few men are wise enough to rule themselves, even fewer are wise enough to rule others.

 - Edward Abbey

A statesman cannot create anything himself. He must wait and listen until he hears the steps of God sounding through events; then leap up and grasp the hem of his garment.

 - Otto von Bismark

Whenever I have met with our elected officials they are invariably thoughtful, well-meaning people. And yet collectively 90% of their effort seems to be focused on how to stick it to the other party.

 - Sergey Brin

Henry Brooks AdamsPolitics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.

 - Henry Brooks Adams

Lord ActonLiberty is not a means to a higher political end, it is itself the highest political end.

 - Lord Acton

Milton FriedmanThese are the days when men of all social disciplines and all political faiths seek the comfortable and the accepted; when the man of controversy is looked upon as a disturbing influence, when originality is taken to be a mark of instability; and when, in minor modification of the scriptural parable, the bland lead the bland.

 - John Kenneth Galbraith

Milton FriedmanPolitics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.

 - John Kenneth Galbraith

Abraham LincolnIf ever this free people, if this Government itself is ever utterly demoralized, it will come from this incessant human wriggle and struggle for office, which is but a way to live without work.

 - Abraham Lincoln

Hannah ArendtWherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being.

 - Hannah Arendt

AristotleThat man is more of a political animal than bees or any other gregarious animals is evident. Nature, as we often say, makes nothing in vain, and man is the only animal whom she has endowed with the gift of speech.

 - Aristotle

David HumeOf all sciences there is none where first appearances are more deceitful than in politics.

 - David Hume

Carl SaganWe've tended in our cosmologies to make things familiar. Despite all our best efforts, we've not been very inventive. In the West, Heaven is placid and fluffy, and Hell is like the inside of a volcano. In many stories, both realms are governed by dominance hierarchies headed by gods or devils. Monotheists talked about the king of kings. In every culture we imagined something like our own political system running the Universe. Few found the similarity suspicious.

 - Carl Sagan

Theodore RooseveltThe only public servant who can be trusted honestly to protect the rights of the public against the misdeeds of a corporation is that public man who will just as surely protect the corporation itself from wrongful aggression. If a public man is willing to yield to popular clamor and do wrong to the men of wealth or to rich corporations, it may be set down as certain that if the opportunity comes he will secretly and furtively do wrong to the public in the interest of a corporation.

 - Theodore Roosevelt

John AdamsThe fundamental article of my political creed is that despotism, or unlimited sovereignty, or absolute power, is the same in a majority of a popular assembly, an aristocratic council, an oligarchical junto, and a single emperor.

 - John Adams

Milton FriedmanFreedom in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so economic freedom is an end in itself. . .Economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.

 - Milton Friedman

George OrwellPolitical language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

 - George Orwell

Mark TwainThe chances are that a man cannot get into congress now without resorting to arts and means that should render him unfit to go there.

 - Mark Twain

Barack ObamaIn his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth. And so, we have to preserve this truth with jealous anxiety, that we should reject the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties that make us one.

America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren't even willing to enter into public service, so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen not just as misguided, but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

 - Barack Obama

Mark TwainIn religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination.

 - Mark Twain