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Politics

  • The box sanctified, conferred identity. The more familiar the face, the more to be trusted.

    • P.D. James,
    • on television's role in politics, Innocent Blood ()
  • ... that was one of the things he deplored about the loss of religion, it meant that people elevated politics into a religious faith and that was dangerous.

  • Politics and religion are dangerous subjects, for they may cause ill feeling even in the most cultivated company. Illness, death, and disaster are unpleasant, and consequently should be avoided.

  • 'But women have nothing to do with politics.' 'They have everything to do with politics. They always have had.'

  • The liquor of statecraft is distilled from the mash you got.

  • To me the function of politics is to make possible the desirable.

  • It is legitimate to have one's own point of view and political philosophy. But there are people who make anger, rather than a deeply held belief, the basis of their actions. They do not seem to mind harming society as a whole in the pursuit of their immediate objective. No society can survive if it yields to the demands of frenzy, whether of the few or the many.

  • ... politics and religion in the United States work like the twin grips of a pair of pliers on a critical mass of the masses.

  • Party politics is now a real farce.

    • George Sand,
    • 1875, in Raphaël Ledos de Beaufort, ed., Letters of George Sand, vol. 3 ()
  • Political organizations are formed to keep the powerful in power.

  • ... politics as it is practiced in the United States ... is a beautiful fraud that has been imposed on the people for years, whose practitioners exchange gilded promises for the most valuable thing their victims own, their votes.

  • There is little place in the political scheme of things for an independent, creative personality, for a fighter. Anyone who takes that role must pay a price.

  • Political success is a good deal pleasanter than political failure, but it too brings its problems.

  • If it's a man's game so decidedly that a woman would be soiled by entering it, then there is something radically wrong with the American game of politics.

  • ... entirely new concepts are very rare in politics ...

  • ... power can be thought of as the never-ending, self-feeding motor of all political action that corresponds to the legendary unending accumulation of money that begets money.

  • ... every political structure, new or old, left to itself develops stabilizing forces which stand in the way of constant transformation and expansion. Therefore all political bodies appear to be temporary obstacles when they are seen as part of an eternal stream of growing power.

  • ... in the era of imperialism, businessmen became politicians and were acclaimed as statesmen, while statesmen were taken seriously only if they talked the language of succcessful businessmen ...

  • There always comes a point beyond which lying becomes counterproductive. This point is reached when the audience to which the lies are addressed is forced to disregard altogether the distinguishing line between truth and falsehood in order to be able to survive.

    • Hannah Arendt,
    • "Lying in Politics," Crises of the Republic ()
  • Truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues, and lies have always been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings.

    • Hannah Arendt,
    • "Lying in Politics," Crises of the Republic ()
  • ... in politics, guts is all.

  • Language matters because whoever controls the words controls the conversation, because whoever controls the conversation controls its outcome, because whoever frames the debate has already won it, because telling the truth has become harder and harder to achieve in an America drowning in Orwellian Newspeak.

  • ... the new women in politics seem to be saying that we already know how to lose, thank you very much. Now we want to learn how to win.

  • The political is personal.

  • You will do very well to refuse offices; for a man seldom fails to give offense in them. It ought to weary you simply to hear them mentioned.

    • Catherine of Siena,
    • 1376, in Vida D. Scudder, ed., St. Catherine of Siena As Seen in Her Letters ()
  • This talk about wimmen bein' outside and above all participation in the laws of her country, is jest as pretty as anything I ever hearn, and jest as simple. Why, you might jest as well throw a lot of snowflakes into the street, and say, 'Some of 'em are female flakes and mustn't be trompled on.' The great march of life tromples on 'em all alike; they fall from one common sky, and are trodden down into one common ground.

  • ... isn't that the point of this whole political year — that what is becoming increasingly clear is that we are all tired of having this country run primarily for the benefit of people who make more than $200,000 a year?

    • Molly Ivins,
    • "A Good Fight or Two Keeps Political Show Moving Right Along," in Fort Worth Star-Telegram ()
  • Our political system has been thoroughly corrupted, and by the usual suspect — money, what else? The corruption is open, obscene, and unmistakable. The way campaigns are financed is a system of legalized bribery. We have a government of special interests, by special interests, and for special interests. And that will not change until we change the way campaigns are financed.

  • We just need to get the hogs out of the creek so the water can clear up.

  • Politics in this country isn't about left and right; it's about up and down. The few are screwing the many.

  • A world of vested interests is not a world which welcomes the disruptive force of candor.

  • ... the man who never tells an unpalatable truth 'at the wrong time' (the right time has yet to be discovered) is the man whose success in life is fairly well assured.

  • ... the last degree of honesty has always been, and is still considered incompatible with statesmanship. To hunger and thirst after righteousness has been naturally, as it were, supposed a disqualification for affairs ...

  • ... the systematic abuse with which the newspapers of one side assail every candidate coming forward on the other, is the cause of many honorable men, who have a regard to their reputation, being deterred from entering public life; and of the people being thus deprived of some better servants than any they have.

  • Some persons plead that there is less occasion for school instruction in the principles of politics, than for an improved teaching of some other things; because children are instructed in politics every day of their lives by what they hear at home, and wherever they go. But they hear all too little of principles. What they hear is argumentation about particular men, and immediate measures. The more sure they are of learning details elsewhere, the more necessary it is that they should here be exercised in those principles by which the details are to be judged and made available as knowledge. They come to school with their heads crammed with prejudices, and their memories with words, which it should be part of the work of school to reduce to truth and clearness, by substituting principles for the one, and annexing ideas to the other.

  • I ain't never seen no head so level that it could bear the lettin' in of politics.

  • ... I never saw the man yet that came out of politics as clean as he went into 'em ...

  • To this hour, the great science and duty of politics is lowered by the petty leaven of small and personal advantage ...

  • We're half the people; we should be half the Congress.

    • Jeannette Rankin,
    • 1966, in Hannah Josephson, Jeannette Rankin: First Lady in Congress ()
  • ... the struggle for the right to become politicians in itself made women into politicians.

    • Eleanor F. Rathbone,
    • "Changes in Public Life," in Ray Strachey, ed., Our Freedom and Its Results ()
  • ... the explanation of the ebb and flow of the women's movement ... is partly psychological. During those early post-war years when successes came thick and fast and were almost thrust upon us, the nation was still under the influence of the reconstruction spirit, when everything seemed possible ... A few years later the nation had reached the stage which follows a drinking bout. It was feeling ruefully in its empty pockets. It did not want to part with anything to anybody. Its head ached. Noble sentiments made it feel sick. It wanted only to be left alone.

    • Eleanor F. Rathbone,
    • "Changes in Public Life," in Ray Strachey, ed., Our Freedom and Its Results ()
  • [On Richard M. Nixon:] The Republican nominee would be far worse than another Eisenhower — he is Tricky Dicky of the first magnitude. His entire record is one of opportunism. I cannot feel that there is the remotest sincerity in him, and that clearly he would be the tool of the highest bidder, which is always 'big business.'

    • Marguerite Rawalt,
    • 1960, in Judith Paterson, Be Somebody: A Biography of Marguerite Rawalt ()
  • ... all working, practical political systems, even those professing to originate in moral grandeur, are based upon and operate by contempt of human life and the individual fate ...

  • She viewed a 'political illiterate' as a conventional mind might a person of those long-ago days born out of wedlock: an unfortunate condition, but reprehensible and without remedy even for its victim.

  • The complete overturn every four years in our central government, or at least the effort to make the overturn, the intervening upset of local politics, the shortness of the term of office, not only for major officials, but for the lesser ones as well, make impossible the development of enduring policies and principles. A sense of haste and hurry pervades our daily life, bred of the necessity for action before the change again, and this permeates our thinking. ... To this, more than to any other single cause, I began to ascribe the superficiality of American life and thought. We live from day to day unable to plan for long years ahead, lest a new goverment bring about far-reaching changes.

  • I don't know much about politics, but I know a good party man when I see one.

  • ... we cannot cure the evils of politics with politics ...

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1955, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 5 ()
  • Big Business and Politics are twins, they are the monsters who kill everything, corrupt everything.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1957, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 6 ()
  • People often say, with pride, 'I'm not interested in politics.' They might as well say, 'I'm not interested in my standard of living, my health, my job, my rights, my freedoms, my future or any future.' ... If we mean to keep any control over our world and lives, we must be interested in politics.

  • Ideological differences are no excuse for rudeness.

  • Our countrymen create most of the misfortunes they feel, for want of a disinterested spirit, a confidence in each other, and a union of the whole. It is a great misfortune, when one State thwarts the measures of eleven or twelve, and thus injures the credit and reputation of the whole.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • to her sister, Mary Smith Cranch (1787), Letters of Mrs. Adams ()
  • I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the Ladies we are determined to foment a Rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter to her husband, John Adams (1776), in L.H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 ()
  • No falsehoods ... have been thought too grose to palm upon the public.

    • Abigail Adams,
    • letter (1800), in John P. Kaminski, The Quotable Abigail Adams ()
  • Running for office is the least aerobic of the socially interactive sports ...

  • Politics is the reflex of the business and industrial world, the mottos of which are: 'To take is more blessed than to give'; 'buy cheap and sell dear'; 'one soiled hand washes the other.'

    • Emma Goldman,
    • "The Tragedy of Woman's Emancipation," Anarchism ()
  • For all its considerable merits and inspirational principles, the American system is based upon a continuous uninterrupted process of election campaigns, stretching out year after year. Lost in the perpetual scramble is any long-term vision ...

  • An election marks the end of the affair; it puts paid to the seduction of the many by the few. Pretty words, fulsome promises. We wind up married, but to whom, to what? We cannot always predict with certainty the future leader from the winning candidate. Some men grow in the job; others are diminished by its demands and its grandeur.

  • If simple, painless solutions to public problems existed, they would have been found long ago.

  • Now the sole remedy for the abuse of political power is to limit it; but when politics corrupt business, modern reformers invariably demand the enlargement of the political power.

  • In America, where the electoral process is drowning in commercial techniques of fund-raising and image-making, we may have completed a circle back to a selection process as unconcerned with qualifications as that which made Darius King of Persia. ... he whose horse was the first to neigh at sunrise should be King.

  • ... it will be impossible to establish a higher political life than the people themselves crave ...

  • Perhaps it is the expediency in the political eye that blinds it.

  • Money was the manure of politics ...

  • For it is precisely because certain groups have no representation in a number of recognized political structures that their position tends to be so stable, their oppression so continuous.

  • ... the two major parties too often present us with a choice of the evil of two lessers.

  • This woman's place is in the House — the House of Representatives.

    • Bella Abzug,
    • 1970 campaign slogan, in Doris Faber, Bella Abzug ()
  • The most effective means for restoring the integrity of our electoral process, and repairing the public's tattered faith in its elected representatives, is through the full public financing of political campigns. It's the mother of all reforms: the one reform that makes all other reforms possible. After all, he who pays the piper calls the tune. If someone's going to own the politicians, it might as well be the American people.

  • The only tool we have to fix the problems of this country — the democratic process — is itself broken. Which is why nothing will fundamentally change until we solve the problem of money in politics.

  • ... corporate America corrupted the watchdogs that were supposed to be guarding the public interest by feeding them under the table.

  • A platform is something a candidate stands for and the voters fall for.

  • Catherine discovered that statecraft was only history in process of fermentation.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Anyone who can see as far as tomorrow in politics arouses the wrath of people who can see no farther than today.

  • The pursuit of politics is religion, morality, and poetry all in one.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • in J. Christopher Herold, Mistress to an Age: A Life of Madame de Staël ()
  • I believe that everything is political, and as such it should concern all of us. Authors who claim they don't deal with politics in their work are being naive, because even that is a political stance.

    • Elena Poniatowska,
    • in Marie-Lise Gazarian-Gautiez, Interviews with Latin American Writers ()
  • ... democracy is dying. We are ruled by faceless bureaucrats and lecherous puritans. ... You think about it. 'All right for me but not for you' is their philosophy.

  • Policy and politics generally go contrary to principle.

  • Politics is a word spelled N-O-W.

  • Women are young at politics, but they are old at suffering; soon they will learn that through politics they can prevent some kinds of suffering.

  • There is no such thing as a strictly woman's problem. Any question affecting the welfare of society is a woman's problem.

    • Nancy Astor,
    • speech before the House of Commons, in Alice Stone Blackwell, The Woman Citizen ()
  • Politics are usually the executive expression of human immaturity.

  • Politics, she had learned at a very early age, was the art of separating the events you could make something out of from those that simply happened and went on happening.

  • International politics, by and large, are a depressing study.

  • We should not be ashamed about talking about loving kindness and compassion in political terms. Values like love and compassion should be part of politics because justice must always be tempered by mercy. We prefer the word 'compassion.' That is warmer and more tender then 'mercy.'

    • Aung San Suu Kyi,
    • in Whitney Stewart, Aung San Suu Kyi: Fearless Voice of Burma ()
  • Whether you want it or not, / your genes have a political past, / your skin a political tone, / your eyes a political color, / What you say resounds, / what you don't say is also / politically significant.

    • Wisława Szymborska,
    • "Children of the Epoch," in Daniela Gioseffi, ed., Women on War: An International Anthology of Writings From Antiquity to the Present ()
  • The genius of the Republicans has been how they figured out how to so polarize the middle class that we vote against our own best interests.

  • Big money tries to purchase its own agenda. Money does too much talking in Washington. Every senator, every representative, even the president awakens each morning with a number in his head that will drive the whole day. The number is the amount of money that must [be] raised that day for his reelection. If he fails, the next day's number will be even higher.

  • [On running for president:] Victoria Woodhull in 1872, Belva Lockwood in 1884, Shirley Chisholm in 1973 and Pat Schroeder in 1987 all found that the White House is still America's ultimate clubhouse with a 'No Girls Allowed' sign posted.

  • Politics begins when you have two people in a room or when you have one person looking in a mirror.

  • Politics is not just about voting one day every four years. Politics is the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the road we walk on.

  • ... the apathy and inattention of the average citizen is beyond comprehension.

  • Network news accustoms audiences to assertion not argument. Over time, it reinforces the notion that politics is about visceral identification and apposition, not complex problems and their solutions. ... sound bites aren't very helpful. They can tell a voter what a candidate believes, but not why. And many issues are too complex to be freeze dried into a slogan and a smile. ... What's lost in a world in which everything's an ad? Perhaps the country that created the assembly line has simply found a more efficient way to do politics.

  • Television has accustomed us to brief, intimate, telegraphic, visual, narrative messages. Candidates are learning to act, speak, and think in television's terms. In the process they are transforming speeches, debates, and their appearances in news into ads.

  • Increasingly, campaigns have become narcotics that blur our awareness of problems long enough to elect the lawmakers who must deal with them.

  • ... in politics as in life, what is known is not necessarily what is believed, what is shown is not necessarily what is seen, and what is said is not necessarily what is heard.

  • Politics and religion mixed is the headiest cock-tail ever invented. That it is a mixture cannot, I fear, be controverted. It is very, very old.

  • To put a woman on the ticket would challenge the loyalty of women everywhere to their sex, because it would be made to seem that the defeat of the ticket meant the defeat for a hundred years of women's chance to be truly equal with men in politics.

  • In politics women ... type the letters, lick the stamps, distribute the pamphlets and get out the vote. Men get elected.

  • What I find amazing is that, when a man is designated as prime minister, nobody asks the French if they think it is a good thing that it is a man.

  • I was elected by the women of Ireland, who instead of rocking the cradle, rocked the system.

  • ... the crowning absurdity was Sara Ellen's tireless efforts on behalf of the committee for promoting the Democratic nominee for president. Which, in the Deep South, Mrs. Roberts had pointed out out dryly, is like assisting the sun to rise.

  • For twenty years it had been generally known that an insidious Lobby was maintained in Washington to influence legislation and executive action on behalf of vested interests. ... The lobby was a creature of darkness. It worked behind closed doors and whispered in corners. This ancient industry was one form of invisible government.

  • All politicians know that every 'temporary' political initiative promised as a short-term poultice stays on the books forever.

    • Cynthia Ozick,
    • "Literature and the Politics of Sex: A Dissent," Art and Ardor ()
  • The politics of character tend to drive out the politics of substance.

  • The trilogy composed of politics, religion and sex is the most sensitive of all issues in any society.

  • We shouldn't leave the work of politics to people who run for public office.

  • Our political scene is more volatile and given to sudden switches and memory lapses bordering on soap-opera-type amnesia (epidemic, total and terminal) than any other I know of. We are fickle and we are insatiable in our appetite for new news, new issues, new biases, new clichés ... It's not just (as another cliché, lifted from Andy Warhol, has it) that individuals all seem to get their 15 minutes of celebrity in this country; everything gets only 15 minutes.

  • Ninety percent of politics is deciding whom to blame.

  • If we don't get reform in campaign financing, then we can write this country off.

  • What can the people think when, thanks to disclosure, the slimy trail from the contribution to the vote can be so easily traced?

  • Women are on the outside when the door to the smoke-filled room is closed.

  • The money that is spent in elections is absolutely unconscionable — even if it's private money. It's true that one's not corrupted by the expenditure of one's own money, but to some extent the system is. We cannot have a system in which the only people you can count on for a vote that doesn't look as though it might be a vote for a special-interest group are people with enormous fortunes.

  • Republicans love mines, particularly coal mines. This is partly because of their big donors, but the fact that environmentalists hate coal makes coal mines even more adorable. And the miners themselves are always sympathetic figures because they work hard and play by the rules. As a result, their biggest dreams have been realized, and they are able to spend their lives underground developing chronic pulmonary disease. Shortly before the convention, Mitt Romney had pressed the coal theme with an appearance in Ohio, where he stood with a group of sooty miners whose sad, solemn faces seemed to underscore their concern about big government. Also, some of them later told the news media that they had been required to show up and weren't paid for the day.

  • The conduct of these two groups of men, the politicians and the businessmen, shows how absolutely interchangeable the terms 'business' and 'politics' are in the capitalistic world.

  • Arithmetic in politics is not much more useful than politics in arithmetic.

  • ... in politics, it seems, there are so many who have fish to fry, while there are only a limited number of frying-pans ...

  • Politics becomes a part of your life once you realize it has been all along.

  • ... guilt politics ... I regard as conveniently paralyzing, ripe for backlash defensiveness, counterproductive, and boring.

  • ... politics can be an ugly game, and in a national election the stakes get higher while the tactics get lower.

  • The personal is political.

  • There are far too many men in politics and not enough elsewhere.

  • Beware the politically obsessed. They are often bright and interesting, but they have something missing in their natures; there is a hole, an empty place, and they use politics to fill it up. It leaves them somehow misshapen.

  • There aren't many idealists in politics.

  • Politics is not really politics any more. It is run, for the most part, by Madison Avenue advertising firms, who sell politicians to the public the way they sell bars of soap or cans of beer.

  • I must say acting was good training for the political life which lay ahead for us.

  • Never lose your temper with the Press or the public is a major rule of political life.

  • Gracie Hansen for Governor — the Best Governor Money Can Buy.

    • Gracie Hansen,
    • campaign bumper sticker (1970), in Peter Blecha, HistoryLink.Org ()
  • Anybody who runs for public office today has got to know his life or her life will be an open book. I've decided that if you want to run for public office you have to decide at the age of 5 and live accordingly.

    • Helen Thomas,
    • "Uncovering the White House," in San Francisco Sunday Examiner & Chronicle ()
  • As a distinguished politician once said, when you plan to drain a marsh, you don't tell the frogs.

  • Politics is only the servant of industry.

    • Mother Jones,
    • in Mary Field Parton, ed., The Autobiography of Mother Jones ()
  • Politics was an inherited affliction in our family, passed on like a weak chin from one generation to the next.

  • Politics is the process of getting along with the querulous, the garrulous and the congenitally unlovable.

  • The first law of politics: If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

    • Susan Page,
    • Charlie Rose television interview ()
  • It's time to take the 'Men Only' sign off the White House door.

  • The political is personal.

  • The personal is political.

    • Anonymous,
    • women's movement theme, 1970s, in Evelyn Shapiro and Barry M. Shapiro, The Women Say/The Men Say ()
  • Our political system — democracy — has been polluted by our economic system — capitalism. In fact, we run the United States as if capitalism were our political system.

  • [To Bonaparte, when asked why she meddled in politics:] Sire, when women have their heads cut off, it is but just they should know the reason.

    • Madame de Staël,
    • in Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Matilda Joslyn Gage, eds., History of Woman Suffrage, vol. 1 ()
  • What interests the Mafia now, as always, is the power. And now that they have achieved that, they no longer need shoot people. It's enough for them to elect political representatives who look after their economic interests.

    • Letizia Battaglia,
    • in Joe Bish, "Photographing Sicily's Mafia Men and the Pain They Caused," www.vice.com ()
  • When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as 'enemies,' it's ... a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.