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Politics and Politicians Quotes

Selected quotations on politicians and the craft of politics

"Anybody may support me when I am right. What I want is someone that will support me when I am wrong." Sir John A. Macdonald, Canadian Prime Minister

“Under every stone lurks a politician.” Aristophanes

"If I tell a lie it's only becaused I think I'm telling the truth." 'Flying Phil' Gaglardi, former B.C.Minister of Highways

"The [Liberal] federal government's trouble is that they have a wishbone where they should have a backbone." Tommy Douglas, Former Saskatchewan Premier and Leader of the Federal New Democratic Party

"When a man has done me an evil turn once, I don't like to give him the opportunity to do so twice." Sir John A. Macdonald, Canadian Prime Minister

"Parliamentary committees are becoming more independent, tactics are becoming more sophisticated, and industries that don't want to be bushwhacked by some damaging legislative amendment will have to spend more time and money watching the Hill." John Ibitson, Globe and Mail Columnist

"Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate." Mark B. Cohen

“I have come to the conclusion that politics are too serious a matter to be left to the politicians.” Charles De Gaulle

"Government is too big and too important to be left to the politicians.” Chester Bowles

“Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything.” Frank Dane

“The reason there are so few female politicians is that it is too much trouble to put makeup on two faces.” Maureen Murphy

“I once said cynically of a politician, 'He'll doublecross that bridge when he comes to it.'” Oscar Levant

"He was the only man I ever knew who could get money from the rich and votes from the poor with the promise to protect them from each other." Tommy Douglas, Former Saskatchewan Premier and Leader of the Federal New Democratic Party

“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” Simon Cameron

“It is the duty of every citizen according to his best capacities to give validity to his convictions in political affairs.” Albert Einstein

“Crime does not pay ... as well as politics.” Alfred E. Newman

“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.” Charles De Gaulle

“Politics: A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.” Ambrose Bierce

"Courage, my friends; 'tis not too late to build a better world." Tommy Douglas, Former Saskatchewan Premier and Leader of the Federal New Democratic Party

“Man is by nature a political animal.” Aristotle

“Politics is largely a matter of heart.” R. A. Butler

“Politics is made up largely of irrelevancies.” Dalton Camp

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it whether it exists or not, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedy.” Ernest Benn

“Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important.” Eugene McCarthy

“Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.” John Kenneth Galbraith

“Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable.” John Kenneth Galbraith

“The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'.” Larry Hardiman

“Politics is the skilled use of blunt objects.” Lester B. Pearson

“Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed.” Mao Tse-Tung

“Nothing can so alienate a voter from the political system as backing a winning candidate.” Mark B. Cohen

“Politics is the art of the possible.” Otto Von Bismarck

“Politics is the art of preventing people from taking part in affairs which properly concern them. “ Paul Valery

“In politics you must always keep running with the pack. The moment that you falter and they sense that you are injured, the rest will turn on you like wolves.” R. A. Butler

“Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary.” Robert Louis Stevenson

“Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” Ronald Reagan

“The more you read and observe about this Politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other. The one that's out always looks the best.” Will Rogers

"They wouldn't be politicians if they knew what they were doing." Jim Rogers, Investment Guru

"Be a listener only, keep within yourself, and endeavor to establish with yourself the habit of silence, especially in politics." Thomas Jefferson

"Politics are a labyrinth without a clue." John Adams

"All great changes are irksome to the human mind, especially those which are attended with great dangers and uncertain effects. " John Adams

"They worry one another like mastiffs, scrambling for rank and pay like apes for nuts." John Adams

"Commitments the voters don't know about can't hurt you." Ogden Nash

"Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever." Napoleon Bonaparte

"In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant." Charles de Gaulle

"Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war." Maria Montessori

"Diplomacy --- the art of saying "Nice doggie" 'til you can find a stick." Wynn Catlin

"Politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds." Henry Adams

"Power always has to be kept in check; power exercised in secret, especially under the cloak of national security, is doubly dangerous." William Proxmire

"Lighthouse: A tall building on the seashore in which the government maintains a lamp and the friend of a politician." Anonymous

"No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making other bastards die for their country." George Smith Patton

"Nobody believes the official spokesman... but everybody trusts an unidentified source." Ron Nesen

"Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory." John Kenneth Galbraith

"Nothing would please the Kremlin more than to have the people of this country choose a second rate president." Richard M. Nixon

"Our elections are free--it's in the results where eventually we pay." Bill Stern

"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build bridges even when there are no rivers." Nikita Khruschev

"I've seen many politicians paralyzed in the legs as myself, but I've seen more of them who were paralyzed in the head." George Wallace

"If Communism goes, I've still got the U.S. House of Representatives." Robert Novak

"If one morning I walked on top of the water across the Potomac River, the headline that afternoon would read: PRESIDENT CAN'T SWIM." Lyndon B. Johnson

"In political discussion heat is in inverse proportion to knowledge." J. G. C. Minchin

"It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly American criminal class except Congress." Mark Twain

"I think it's about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we've been voting for boobs long enough." Clarie Sargent, Arizona senatorial candidate

"Politics is a game requiring great coolness." Sir John A Macdonald,
Canadian Prime Minister

"The decline of official discourse into cream of bleat has behind it reasons that go beyond the politician's genetic instinct for the median. There is, above all, the odd influence of television. The politicos prefer it to print because they don't get edited. But it's become comical to watch the TV people shooting one "tough" question after another at guests who bat them away like fruit flies on a steaming peach pie. The morning Sunday shows used to make news but rarely do in a big way anymore. " Daniel Hennigar, Wall Street Journal

"There will be no silence from Canada. Our friendship has no limit. Generation after generation we have traveled many difficult miles together side by side." Prime Minister Jean Chrétien

"We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right." Nelson Mandela

"Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often." Mark Twain

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything." Alexander Hamilton

"We have seen a growing mismatch between the command of media communication shown by the most talented politicians, and the halting, uneven progress which they can deliver through the machinery of government." Tom Bentley, Director of Demos, a British Think Tank

"The more successful a political party, the more winning its ways, the less of its time is spent casting about for policy or determining it principles. But, political parties with principles or even without them, have a common need for money; someone has to pay for the television commercials." Dalton Camp, Canadian political commentator

"In joining a political party, people shouldn't have to swear everlasting agreement with every jot and tittle of their party's policy manifesto. Debate, disagreement, argument, are good for democracy not bad." William Watson, Columnist & McGill University Professor

"Your job is to work as hard as you can in government, and to work as hard as you can in your ridings for the people you represent, because the time will come when you will not want me to come into your ridings. The time will come when I am so personally unpopular that you won't want help from me....and then at that moment, when I am not able to help, your chances of being re-elected are going to depend entirely on your own efforts." David Peterson, Former Ontario Premier

"The decline of official discourse into cream of bleat has behind it reasons that go beyond the politician's genetic instinct for the median. There is, above all, the odd influence of television. The politicos prefer it to print because they don't get edited. But it's become comical to watch the TV people shooting one "tough" question after another at guests who bat them away like fruit flies on a steaming peach pie. The morning Sunday shows used to make news but rarely do in a big way anymore. " Daniel Hennigar, Wall Street Journal

"Today's headlines are tomorrow's birdcage drop-sheets." Anonymous

"Noise proves nothing--often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she had laid an asteroid." Mark Twain

"I can think of nothing more boring for the American people than to have to sit in their living rooms for a whole half-hour looking at my face on their television screens." Dwight Eisenhower

"Experts are just trained dogs." Albert Einstein

"The way my luck is running, if I were a politician I would be an honest man." Rodney Dangerfield

"Politics is like football. If you see daylight, go through the hole." John F. Kennedy

"Great obstacles make great leaders." Cree leader, Billy Diamond

"We have two types of politicians-the incapable and those capable of anything." Slogan written on a wall in Paraguay, according to the Economist

"There will be no silence from Canada. Our friendship has no limit. Generation after generation we have traveled many difficult miles together side by side." Prime Minister Jean Chrétien

"We must use time wisely and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right." Nelson Mandela

"Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often." Mark Twain

"Those who stand for nothing fall for anything." Alexander Hamilton

"We have seen a growing mismatch between the command of media communication shown by the most talented politicians, and the halting, uneven progress which they can deliver through the machinery of government." Tom Bentley, Director of Demos, a British Think Tank

"The more successful a political party, the more winning its ways, the less of its time is spent casting about for policy or determining it principles. But, political parties with principles or even without them, have a common need for money; someone has to pay for the television commercials." Dalton Camp, Canadian political commentator

"In joining a political party, people shouldn't have to swear everlasting agreement with every jot and tittle of their party's policy manifesto. Debate, disagreement, argument, are good for democracy not bad." William Watson, Columnist & McGill University Professor

"Your job is to work as hard as you can in government, and to work as hard as you can in your ridings for the people you represent, because the time will come when you will not want me to come into your ridings. The time will come when I am so personally unpopular that you won't want help from me....and then at that moment, when I am not able to help, your chances of being re-elected are going to depend entirely on your own efforts." David Peterson, Former Ontario Premier

"There are two kinds of fool. One says, 'This is old, and therefore good.' And one says, 'This is new, and therefore better.'" Dean Inge

"We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience." George Bernard Shaw

"If politicians lived on praise and thanks they'd be forced into some other line of business." Edward Heath, British Prime Minister

"A week is a long time in politics." Harold Wilson, British Prime Minister

"There are two problems in my life. The political ones are insoluble and the economic ones are incomprehensible." Sir Alec Douglas-Home, British Prime Minister

"The empires of the future are the empires of the mind." Sir Winston Churchill

"The attainment of an ideal is often the beginning of a disillusion." Stanley Baldwin, British Prime Minister

"If I am a great man, then all great men are frauds." Andrew Bonar Law, British Prime Minister

"I am more or less happy when being praised, not very comfortable when being abused, but I have moments of uneasiness when being explained." Arthur James Balfour, British Prime Minister

"There seem to me to be very few facts, at least ascertainable facts, in politics." Sir Robert Peel, British Prime Minister

"All those men have their price." (His opinion of his fellow parliamentarians) Sir Robert Walpole , British Prime Minister

"Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it." Earl of Chatham, William Pitt, 'The Elder', British Prime Minister

"I hate liberality - nine times out of ten it is cowardice, and the tenth time lack of principle." Henry Addington, British Prime Minister

"Great men are very apt to have great faults; and the faults appear the greater by their contrast with their excellencies." Gerald J. Simmons

"Those of you who come in with me now will receive a big piece of the pie. Those of you who delay, and commit yourselves later, will receive a smaller piece of pie. Those of you who don't come in at all will receive – Good Government!" Huey Long

"If nominated by either party, I should peremptorily decline, and even if unanimously elected, I should decline to serve." General Tecumseh Sherman

"We'd all like to vote for the best man but he's never a candidate." Kim Hubbard

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Winston Churchill

"Politics is the art of choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." John Galbraith

"We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." Aesop

"Compare the emotional vocabulary available to a leader (confidence, satisfaction, indignation) with the emotions not permitted (regret, embarrassment, dread, angst, mortification, anger, surprise, wonder, doubt), and it becomes apparent why perfectly normal people, upon entering public life, transform into cartoons - because they are not free to express what a normal person would feel in their situation." John MacLachlan Gray, Canadian Playwright

"Until relatively recently, mass political movements were still about basic rights of food, shelter, education and self sufficiency. The reasons fewer people vote these days, or turn up for political meetings, is that for the vast majority of us those rights have been fulfilled. These days it’s in the adverts for mobile phones or foreign holidays where phrases like "Join the Revolution!" and "Cry Freedom!" are bandied about for a generation which knows nothing of their provenance. Just as now we have luxury illnesses to replace real ones, so now we have luxury politics." John Diamond, British Journalist

"The best time to listen to a politician is when he's on a stump on a street corner in the rain late at night when he's exhausted. Then he doesn't lie." Theodore H. White

"The world of politics is always twenty years behind the world of thought." John Jay Chapman

"Political work is the life-blood of all economic work. " Mao Tse-Tung

"We often repent of what we have said, but never, never, of that which we have not." Thomas Jefferson

"Becoming a politician is the only step down I could take from being a journalist." Jim Hightower

"A fanatic is one who won't change his mind and won't change the subject." Winston Churchill

"After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one." Cato the Elder

"I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have." Thomas Jefferson

"There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group; there is less competition there." Indira Gandhi

"Politics are, as it were, the market place and the price mechanism of all social demands - though there is no guarantee that a just price will be struck; and there is nothing spontaneous about politics- it depends on deliberate and continuous activity." Bernard Crick

"Finality is not the language of politics." Benjamin Disraeli

"There is no more independence in politics than there is in jail." Will Rogers

"When we win on an issue we call it leadership. When we lose, we call it politics. Practicing politics simply means increasing your options for effective results." John Eldred

"Never vote for the best candidate, vote for the one who will do the least harm." Frank Dane

"Office tends to confer a dreadful plausibility on even the most negligible of those who hold it." Mark Lawson

"It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them." Mark Twain

"Too bad ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation." Henry Kissinger

"When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property." Thomas Jefferson

"In politics as on a sickbed men toss from side to side in hope of lying more comfortably. "Goethe

"Party is the madness of many for the gain of a few." Jonathan Swift

"The political process is not tied to any particular doctrine. Genuine political doctrines, rather, are the attempt to find particular and workable solutions to this perpetual and shifty problem of conciliation." Bernard Crick

"Politics I take to be the activity of attending to the general arrangements of a set of people whom chance or choice have brought together. In this sense, families, clubs, and learned societies have their ‘politics’. But the communities in which this manner of activities is pre-eminent are the hereditary co-operative groups, many of them of ancient lineage, all of them aware of a past, a present and a future, which we call states. For most people, political activity is a secondary activity – that is to say, they have something else to do beside attending to these arrangements. But the activity is one which every member of the group who is not a child nor a lunatic has some part and some responsibility." Michael Oakshott

"There is no more great men; there is only great committees." Marshal McLuhan

"Politics, a strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles." Ambrose Pierce

"If somebody’s gonna stab me in the back, I wanna be there." Allan Lamport

"In politics the choice is constantly between two evils." John Morley

"Gratitude is not a normal feature of political life." Lord Kilmuir

"No political party has exclusive patent rights on prosperity." Franklin Roosevelt

"Politics deserves much praise. Politics is a preoccupations of free men, and its existences is a test of freedom." Bernard Crick

"Politics makes strange post-masters." Kin Hubbard

"Great and glorious events which dazzle the beholder are represented by politicians as the outcome of grand designs whereas they are usually products of temperaments and passions." La Rochefoucauld

"Politics is not like an ocean voyage or a military campaign… something which leaves off as soon as reached. It is not a public chore to be gotten over with. It is a way of life." Plutarch

"Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parkin’ meters." Bob Dylan

"Politics is a way of ruling in divided societies without undue violence…politics is not just a necessary evil; it is a realistic good." Bernard Crick

"The mystery of government is not how Washington works but how to make it stop." P. J. O’Rourke

"Some of you have money, while some are poor you know.
If you send me to Washington, I’ll just divide the dough." Betty Boop

"Now and then an innocent man is sent to the legislature." Kim Hubbard

"After long experience of politics, I have never found that there is any inhibition caused by ignorance as regards criticism." Harold Macmillan

"Practical politics consists in ignoring facts." Henry Brooke Adam

"All the president is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing, and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway." Harry Truman

"Legislators and revolutionaries who promise both equality and liberty are visionaries and charlatans." Goethe

"The plain truth is that what holds a free state together is neither general will nor a common interest, but simply politics itself." Bernard Crick

"I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow." Woodrow Wilson

"There is every reason to believe that our system will soon attain the highest degree of perfection of which human institutions are capable." President James Monroe





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