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Madeleine Kunin

  • I confess to feeling continued ambivalence about political life, aware of its shortcomings and disappointments, but drawn back to it again and again because of its infinite promise. Justice can triumph, wrongs can be righted, and pain can be alleviated, if the right fix is found. The optimistic illusion that one can change the world is difficult to resist, especially when from time to time that illusion is sustained by even a hint of reality. Change does happen in the political process.

  • Politics creates an almost endless time horizon into the future. ... As governor I had the incredible luxury of being able to dream on a grand scale. And this sense of infinite possibility gives politics its romance.

  • ... volunteer activities can foster enormous leadership skills. The nonprofessional volunteer world is a laboratory for self-realization.

  • Like art, political action gives shape and expression to the things we fear as well as to those we desire. It is a creative process, drawing on the power to imagine as well as to act.

  • A desire to succeed in politics is propelled by these two seemingly contradictory forces, which frequently change places and sometimes coexist: to save others and to save oneself.

  • Inaction, contrary to its reputation for being a refuge, is neither safe nor comfortable.

  • When there is violence against any person in society, because he or she is different, it threatens us all. Only by speaking out are any of us safe.

  • Political success is often dependent on the ability to be heard above the din of controversy and debate and to set a course with one's own compass.

Madeleine Kunin, Swiss-born U.S. governor of Vermont, politician

(1933)

Full name: Madeleine May Kunin.