The Theory and Reality of Government

In spite of the learned tomes written by political philosophers and other thinkers, government throughout history has been something of a series of experiments. Some person or group gets into power and stays there until some other person or group replaces them.

It is the form of this replacement which, along with how much say the citizenry has in the whole process, determines the form of government. When the process of replacement changes radically, we call it a revolution, especially if the former leaders end up guillotined or something similar.

In many countries, radical changes in government are something which occur rather regularly. In France, where the populace never could make up its mind about anything except food or wine, they change their system of government the way some people change their shoes. They have gone through monarchies, republics, and empires several times in the last few hundred years. Others, such as Britain, maintain remarkable stability, although there may be a gradual evolution in the actual dispersion of power.

It is customary in the United States today to think of the evolution of governmental form as an upward process with democracy as the ultimate manisfestation of government. Americans like to point to the great age of their government, forgetting that almost nowhere but in America is an age of a couple hundred years anything to get greatly excited about. Democracy has yet to demonstrate that it has any long-term stability. Until it does so, a hereditary monarchy is the preferred form of government for it offers the greatest long-term stability while not excluding personal economic freedoms.

The official language of the State of Illinois shall be known hereafter as the American language, and not the English language.
Act of Illinois state legislature, 1923

I can only assume that a "Do Not File" document is filed in a "Do Not File" file.
Sen. Frank Church, on government bureaucracy

Draco wrote his laws in blood; the Senate writes its laws in wind.
Tom Connally, U.S. senator

When Congress talks of tax reform, grab your wallet and run for cover.
Steven Symms

Where is the politician who has not promised to fight to the death for lower taxes -- and who has not proceeded to vote for the very spending projects that make tax cuts impossible?
Barry Goldwater

Left to its own devices, the State Department machinery tends toward inertia rather than creativity; it is always on the verge of turning itself into an enormous cable machine.
Henry Kissinger

Government regulators are a lot like brand new boy scouts -- they help you across the street even if you don't want to go.
The Comedy Center

Public servants like Mr. McLaughlin [registrar of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles] raise serious questions about the whole subject of evolution, which apparently hasn't worked as well for some of us as for others.
David E. Davis Jr.

To campaign against colonialism is like barking up a tree that has already been cut down.
Sir Andrew Cohen

Tradition is only democracy extended through time; it may be defined as an extension of the franchise. Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead. Tradition refuses to submit to the small and arrogant oligarchy of those who are merely walking about. All democrats object to men being disqualified by accident of birth; tradition objects to their being disqualified by accident of death. Democracy tells us not to neglect a good man's opinion, even if he is our father.
G.K. Chesterton

I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality.
John Randolph

Democracy is that form of government where everybody gets what the majority deserves.
James Davidson

Democracy means government by the uneducated, while aristocracy means government by the badly educated.
G.K. Chesterton

In a democracy sovereignity is vested in a majority; and a majority is not only, at best, an ignorant, foolish and emotional mob, but shifts continually and alters from year to year.
Jean Bodin

The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy.

Democracy means doing whatever you want without asking permission of anybody but your boss, your doctor, your lawyer, your landlord, your bank, your city, your state and federal authorities, and your wife and children.
Sam Levenson

Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.
H.L. Mencken

Under democracy, one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule - and both commonly suceed, and are right.
H.L. Mencken

Democracy is a form of religion. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
H.L. Mencken

Democracy demands that all of its citizens begin the race even. Egalitarianism insists they all finish even.
Roger Price

Universal suffrage is the government of a house by its nursery.
Otto von Bismark

Democracy: A government of the masses. Authority derived through mass meeting or any other form of direct expression. Results in mobocracy. Attitude toward property is communistic...Attitude toward law is that the will of the majority shall regulate, whether it is based on deliberation or governed by passion, prejudice, or impulse, without restraint or regard to the consequences. Result is demagogism, license, agitation, discontent, anarchy.
U.S. Army training manual No. 2000-25 (1928-1932)

Would that the Roman populus had but one neck.

The will of a majority is the will of a rabble. Progressive democracy is incompatable with liberty.
John C. Calhoun

England can never be ruined except by a parliament.
Lord William Burghley

Britain cherishes her eccentrics and wisely holds that the function of government is to build a walled garden in which anarchy can flourish.
Quentin Crisp

A bloody good thing, but too late.
Noel Coward, on the assassination of Ghandi

People are beginning to wish that the voters had been given breathometer tests when they voted in the present government.
William F. Buckley Jr., on England, 1967

Virtually everything is under federal control nowadays except the federal budget.
Herman Talmadge

Government expands to absorb revenue -- and then some.
Tom Wicker

Complete disarmament would require some form of world government that would deter actions of one nation against another...But any world government capable of preventing world conflict could also become a world dictatorship.
The Harvard Nuclear Study Group

Sometimes it seems that we might have been happier if we had once had an aristocracy to blame everything on.
Anatole Broyard

A welfare state is one that assumes responsibility for the health, happiness, and general well-being of all its citizens except the taxpayers.
Boyle's Observation

Alabama judge: One who is about to declare the United States unconstitutional.
The Boston Globe

He is almost a statesman. He lies well.
Napoleon Bonaparte, of Prince Metternich

We will never have Fascism in England; no Englishman will dress up, not even for a revolution.
William Bolitho

Don't crucify mankind upon a cross of gold, the old populist cried. But the cross of paper has proved much more painful.
Eugene A. Birnbaum

You can't repeal human nature by an Act of Congress.
Bernard Baruch

It's nice to keep in touch -- besides, it's the only place in London where you can park a car.
Lord Aitlee, on why he attends the House of Lords

When voting on the confirmation of a Presidential apointment, it's always safer to vote against the son of a bitch, because if he's confirmed, it won't be long before he proves how wise you were.
James Abourezk

Governments seem to work under the principle that once any government, anywhere, has done something, it is proper for other governments to do the same. Moreover, once any government starts to do something, it takes the equivalent of an earthquake to stop it.
Paul Feldman

The idea that central planning is responsible for Japan's success is a myth...The real explanation for the Japanese economic miracle is the country's laissez-faire policies on taxes, anti-trust, banking, and labor. Japan teaches a lesson not about the value of economic planning, but about the vitality of the free market.
David R. Henderson

If the president finds time to help the mentally retarded, what are you doing that's so important?
[Written underneath:] Working to get them out of Washington.
Poster from Graffiti by Robert Reisner

The only way that a government can provide for jobs for all citizens is by deciding what every man should do.
H.L. Mencken

Political liberty is only good insofar as it produces private liberty.
Samuel Johnson

More and more Congressmen now stay in Washington all year-round because they can't stay at home under the laws they've passed.
Sam Levenson

The chaplain of the Senate does not pray for the Senate. He watches the Senate and prays for the country.
Sam Levenson

If you owe fifty dollars you're a piker; if you owe fifty thousand dollars you're a businessman; if you owe fifty million dollars you're a tycoon; if you owe fifty billion dollars you're the government.
Sam Levenson

Nine out of ten Americans are actually monarchists at bottom. The fact is proved by their high suseptibility to political claims by president`s sons and other relatives, usually nonentities.
H.L. Mencken

It would be useless to bomb Washington. If you destroy one building, they already have two other buildings completely staffed with people doing exactly the same thing.
Sam Levenson

How can anyone govern a nation that has two hundred and forty-six different kinds on cheese?
Charles de Gaulle

If the government were put in charge of the Sahara Desert, within five years we'd have a shortage of sand.
Milton Friedman

At the U.N., any nation that fights back is censored as an "aggressor."
Sam Levenson

The United Nations is an organization that actively supports the violent overthrow of sovereign states by revolutionary movements. But not all states and not all movements. It is highly selective. To qualify, a movement must be radical and Marxist, and, of course, terrorists are welcome.
Richard Grenier

The United Nations has become, in short, a third-world club. It is a glass house filled with elegantly turned-out and inordinately highly-paid delegates from impoverished, nondemocratic countries who on every public occassion pour the most vitriolic abuse on the Western democratic nations that gave the organization birth.
Richard Grenier

[The UN should remain in New York] because every country needs a cesspool. And the UN is always interesting as a theater of the absurd.
Ed Koch, New York mayor

[The American position at the UN is] essentially impotent, without influence, heavily outvoted, and isolated.
Jeane J. Kirkpatrick

There is a growing sense that the United Nations has become repetitive, rhetorical, extremist and antidemocratic, a place where the United States is attacked with apparent immunity even by countries with which it maintains cordial bilateral relations.
Richard Bernstein

The U.N. is an American-based bastion of foreign spies. Russia has more spies in the U.S. than there are members of the F.B.I.
Meldrim Thomson, former New Hampshire governor

It is the tendency of Government to grow, for practices and programs to become the nearest thing to eternal life we'll see on this earth.
Ronald Reagan

A camel is a horse designed by a committee and a committee's a sweet running piece of machinery compared to any government.
Gordon R. Dickson

In politics experiments means revolutions.
Benjamin Disraeli

Look at government programs for the past fifty years. Every single one -- except warfare -- achieved the exact opposite of its announced goal.
Peter Drucker

Government is actually the worse failure of modern man. There has never been a really good one, and even those that are most tolerable are arbitrary, cruel, grasping, and unintelligent. Indeed, it would not be far wrong to describe the best as the common enemy of all decent citizens.
H.L. Mencken

DOE should contract with Sears for the equipment instead of NASA -- the former has a much longer and successful history in the windmill business, much better prices, and a vastly better feel for what's practical.
R.W. Scott, In reference to the Department of Energy's $30 million windpower flop

The best view of big government is in a rear-view mirror as we leave it behind.
Ronald Reagan

If the government hasn't taxed, licensed, or regulated it, it probably isn't worth anything.
Donald C. Loewe

Tax reform means, "Don't tax you, don't tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree."
Russell Long, Senator (D-La.)

If there isn't a law, there will be.
Harold Faber

There will soon be only five kings left: the Kings of England, Diamonds, Hearts, Spades, and Clubs.
King Farouk, deposed as Egyptian monarch in 1952

My people and I have come to an agreement which satisfies us both. They are to say what they please, and I am to do what I please.
Frederick the Great

If I wished to punish a province, I would have it governed by philosophers.
Frederick the Great

Hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned.
Milton Friedman

How did we make the transition from using wood to using coal, from using coal to using oil, from using oil to using natural gas? How in God's name did we make that transition without a Federal Energy Agency?
Milton Friedman

Worker, examining his paycheck: "Well, I see the government got another raise."
David Gerard

We (British) have reached the state where the private sector is that part of the economy the government controls and the public sector is that part that nobody controls.
James Goldsmith

A government that is big enough to give you all you want is big enough to take it all away.
Barry Goldwater

No true reform has ever come to pass Unchallenged by a liar and an ass.
Arthur Guiterman

Congress should know how to levy taxes, and if it doesn't know how to collect them, then a man is a fool to pay the taxes.
J.P. Morgan

In Europe democracy is a falsehood. I do not know where it will end, but it cannot end in a quiet old age.
Prince Clemens von Metternich

I know of no existing nation that deserves to live, and I know of very few individuals.
H.L. Mencken

I am going to introduce a resolution to have the Postmaster General stop reading dirty books and deliver the mail.
Gale McGee

For every action there is an equal and opposite government program.
Michael Main

It is legal because I wish it.
King Louis XIV

Every so often, we pass laws repealing human nature.
Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse

I have been told I was on the road to hell, but I had no idea it was just a mile down the road with a Dome on it.
Abraham Lincoln

If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back the soonest is the most progressive man.
C.S. Lewis

What country is stabler than Iran? Where else in the world would an assassinated prime minister be so quickly replaced?
Ayatollah Khomeini

Political liberty is good only so far as it produces private liberty.
Samuel Johnson

The city of Washington D.C. has legalized sodomy and other sex acts between consenting adults. Now if they'd only legalize capitalism between consenting adults for the rest of us.
National Review

The Weather Bureau has changed its name to Environmental Science Services Administration -- and we still get six inches of snow when the forecast says partly cloudy.
Jack Wilson

Democracy substitutes selection by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few.
George Bernard Shaw

The Secretary of Labor is in charge of finding you a job, the Secretary of the Treasury is in charge of taking half the money you make away from you, and the Attorney General is in charge of suing you for the other half.
Lyndon Johnson

The nearest thing to immortality in this world is a government bureau.
Hugh S. Johnson

The mobs of great cities add just so much to the support of pure government as sores do to the strength of the human body.
Thomas Jefferson

A billion seconds ago it was 1951. A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive and walking in Galilee. A billion hours ago no one walked on two feet on earth. And a billion dollars ago was 10.3 hours in Washington, D.C.
Alexander Trowbridge

The Universe never did make sense. I suspect it was built on government contract.
Robert Heinlein

Don't just stand there -- undo something.
Murray Weidenbaum, on Government regulation

Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish; do not overdo it.

Don't overestimate the decency of the human race.
H.L. Mencken

There are even more fatalities from cirrhoses of the liver [than automobiles], yet Congress has not once mentioned outfitting us all with anti- alcohol equipment.
Patrick Bedard, of auto regulation

Our forefathers made one mistake. What they should have fought for was representation without taxation.
Fletcher Knebel

The practice of democracy does not require giving in to the tantrums of every minority group. There are occasions when democracy survives only by resisting minority pressures.
James W. Michael, Editor of Forbes

America is still a free country -- nobody is saying it isn't -- but we accept that, in the face of discernible risk, or even imaginable risk, the government has an obligation to step in and save us.
Patrick Bedard, writing of automobile safety regulation

Other countries may triumph at global conferences where world representatives vote with their hands. But America seems to win whenever the world's people have an opportunity to vote with their feet.
Franklin A. Thomas, Ford Foundation President

Americans complain a lot about the government and they voice a generalized suspicion of the government, but they constantly clammer for more of it.
George Will

Morley Safer and company may wring their collective hands over discovering bureaucrats who do no work; the rest of us should rejoice since "no work" means "no damage."
Benjamin Zycher

The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donation, and benefits.

I always say, if it moves tax it..if it moves too quickly, regulate it..and if it doesn't move, bail it out.
Thaves cartoon

The ideal committee is one with me as chairman, and two other members in bed with flu.
Lord Milverton

Taxes are not levied for the benefit of the taxed.
Robert Heinlein

I sleep so much better at night, knowing that America is protected from thin pickles and fast ketchup.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, on government regulations about hamburger condiments

When I first read about the French Revolution, my reaction was "I am against it."
Jeffrey Hart

..."the white man's burden," more demurely referred to as foreign aid these days.
Jeffrey Hart

People criticize the British Empire, but look at Africa. The only country doing halfway well is South Africa, and you know their policies. In fact, the prosperity of an African nation is directly proportional to the number of Europeans that are left running the place.
I. Mee

As a means of subsidizing lawyers the present nuclear regulation system is well designed -- but is there not perhaps a cheaper way of rewarding legal diligence? It would probably be cheaper to give each law school graduate a guaranteed salary of $50,000 a year on the condition that he (or she) not practice law.
Jerry Pournelle

We adore titles and heredities in our hearts and ridicule them with our mouths. That is our democratic privilege.
Mark Twain

Aristocracy is that form of government in which education and discipline are qualifications for suffrage and office holding.

If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise in a body to which the people send 150 lawyers?
Thomas Jefferson

Why are congressmen called public servants? You never see servants that anxious to keep their jobs.
Robert Quillen

Public servants like Mr. McLaughlin [registrar of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles] raise serious questions about the whole subject of evolution, which apparently hasn't worked as well for some of us as for others.
David E. Davis Jr.

Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.
Alexis de Tocqueville

The office of government is not to confer happiness, but to give men opportunity to find happiness for themselves.
William Ellery Channing

The best government is a benevolent tyranny tempered by an occasional assassination.

The Vice-Presidency is sort of like the last cookie on the plate. Everybody insists he won't take it, but somebody always does.
Bill Vaughan

What is the ballot? It is neither more nor less than a paper representative of the bayonet, the billy, and the bullet. It is a labor-saving device for ascertaining on which side force lies and bowing to the inevitable. The voice of the majority saves bloodshed, but it is no less the abitrament than is the decree of the most absolute of despots backed by the most powerful of armies.
Benjamin R. Tucker

The key decision for a statesman is whether to commit his nation or not. There is no middle course. Once a great nation commits itself, it must prevail. It will acquire no kudos for translating its inner doubts into hesitation.
Henry Kissinger

No man's life, liberty or property are safe while the legislature is in session.

It would not be true to say that bureaucrats are like guinea pigs. Bureaucrats reproduce faster.

Why was I condemned to live in a democracy where every fool's vote is equal to a sensible man's?
John Wyndham

A diplomat is a person who can tell you to go to hell in such a way that you actually look forward to the trip.
Caskie Stinnet

Diplomacy is the art of saying, "Nice doggie," until you can find a stone.

Babies in silk hats playing with dynamite.
Alexander Woollcott

The history of liberty is the history of the limitation of government, not its increase.
Woodrow Wilson

Kelvil: May I ask, Lord Illingworth, if you regard the House of Lords as a better institution than the House of Commons?
Lord Illingworth: A much better institution of course. We in the House of Lords are never in touch with public opinion. That makes us a civilized body.
Oscar Wilde

The fact is, that civilization requires slaves. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible.
Oscar Wilde

In Switzerland they had brotherly love, five hundred years of democracy and what did they produce? The cuckoo clock!
Orson Welles, in the film, The Third Man

Our supreme governors, the mob.
Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford

Political economy -- two words that should be divorced on grounds of incompatibility.
The Wall Street Journal

There is nothing to be ashamed of. This country has a long, glorious history of graft, corruption, and exploitation.
Field Marshall von Pinelli

You can have economic freedom without political freedom, but you cannot have political freedom without economic freedom.
Friedrich von Hayek

The less people know about how sausages and laws are made, the better they'll sleep at night.
Otto von Bismark

In general the cut of government consists in taking as much money as possible from one class of citizens to give to the other.

The important thing is not what thy think of me, it is what I think of them.
Queen Victoria

A real patriot is the fellow who gets a parking ticket and rejoices that the system works.
Bill Vaughan

If it doesn't work, isn't likely to, and would be of no use anyway, then it's good for government funding.
John Timson

There is no such thing as government money -- there is only taxpayers' money.
Sid Taylor

I know why the sun never sets on the British Empire: God wouldn't trust an Englishman in the dark.
Duncan Spaeth

Americans do not get all the government they pay for -- fortunately.
William Simon

Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.
George Bernard Shaw

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.
George Bernard Shaw

I figured why Uncle Sam wears such a tall hat. It comes in handy when he passes it around.
Soupy Sales

If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.
Bertrand Russell

Undoubtedly, the desire for food has been, and still is, one of the main causes of great political events.
Bertrand Russell

Nine tenths of the activities of modern government are harmful. Therefore the worse they are performed the better.
Bertrand Russell

Kings and such are just as funny as politicians.
Theodore Roosevelt

In Washington, a confidential assistant is someone who, if you don't want to know something, you go and ask him and he won't tell you.
Andy Rooney

Lord, the money we spend on Government and it's not one bit better than the government we got for one third the money twenty years ago.
Will Rogers

A federal bureaucracy is the closest thing to eternal life that I know of.
Ronald Reagan

I thought the function of the government was to promote the general welfare, not to provide it.
Ronald Reagan, while Governor of California, 1970

A balanced budget is like protecting your virtue: you have to learn to say no.
Ronald Reagan

The taxpayer -- that's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination.
Ronald Reagan

In the country of the blind, the one-eyed king can still goof up.
Laurence J. Peter

A bureaucrat's idea of cleaning up his files is to make a copy of every paper before he destroys it.
Laurence J. Peter

No country run by 2,000 cousins can be called stable.
Sen. Claiborne Pell, on Saudi Arabia

I feel that if God had really wanted us to have enough oil, he would never have given us a Department of Energy.
Robert Orben

Do you ever get the feeling that the only reason we have elections is to find out if the polls were right?
Robert Orben

I do not rule Russia; ten thousand clerks do.
Tsar Nicholas I

The Social Security Administration has found a way to send out $20 million worth of checks each year that are not cashed, and we don't even want to think about how they do it.
National Review

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President; I am beginning to believe it.
Clarence Darrow

Calvin Coolidge -- the greatest man who ever came out of Plymouth Corner, Vermont.
Clarence Darrow

When an upstart dictator in the United States succeeds in making this a one-party form of government, I shall have the courage to stand up and advocate the use of bullets.
Charles E. Coughlin, on FDR

The boys are in such a mood that if someone introduced the Ten Commandments, they'd cut them down to eight.
Sen. Norris Cotton

I think the American public wants a solemn ass as a President. And I think I'll go along with them.
Calvin Coolidge

The final solution for unemployment is work.
Calvin Coolidge

When more and more people are thrown out of work, unemployment tends to result.
Calvin Coolidge

He [Calvin Coolidge] is the first president to discover that what the American people want is to be left alone.
Will Rogers

How could they tell?
Dorothy Parker, on the death of Calvin Coolidge

He is denouncing me? That's strange. I never did him a favor.
John Randolph

By God, Mr. Chairman, at this moment I stand astonished at my own modesty.
Lord Robert Clive

Bessie Braddock, M.P.: Winston, you're drunk!
Churchill: Bessie, you're ugly. And tomorrow morning I shall be sober.
Winston Churchill

Lady Astor: Winston, if you were my husband, I should flavour your coffee with poison.
Churchill: Madam, if I were your husband, I should drink it.
Winston Churchill

Winston [Churchill] has written four volumes about himself and called it "World in Crisis."
Arthur Balfour

He [Clement Attlee] is a sheep in sheep's clothing.
Winston Churchill

Mr. Attlee is a very modest man. But then he has much to be modest about.
Winston Churchill

He [Lord Attlee] brings to the fierce struggle of politics the tepid enthusiasm of a lazy summer afternoon at a cricket match.
Aneurin Bevan

He [Stanley Baldwin] occassionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
Winston Churchill

Churchill was fundamentally what the English call unstable -- by which they mean anybody who has that touch of genius which is inconvenient in normal times.
Harold MacMillan, British Prime Minister

English experience indicates that when the two great political parties agree about something it is generally wrong.
G.K. Chesterton

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

...following Mrs. Roosevelt in search of irrationality was like following a burning fuse in search of an explosive.
William F. Buckley Jr.

Earlier this month the State Department gave the umpteenth performance of its popular play, Please Tread on Me, with Ceylon as guest star, and the usual cast.
William F. Buckley Jr., May 1956

It sometimes seems that when an American politician opens his mouth out come not words -- still less ideas -- but yard upon yard of polysyllabic flannel, warp of cliche, weft of euphemism, double knit with double talk.
The Economist

For six years profound silence was mistaken for profound wisdom.
Alben W. Barkley, on the Coolidge administration

Following are some translations into English from that strange tongue, Politigabble:
"My fellow Americans" -- Anybody who switches to the channel showing the movie is unpatriotic.
"It's wonderful to be back here in the American heartland" -- What's the name of this dump?
"Peace with honor" -- War
Russell Baker

The dirty work at political conventions is almost always done in the grim hours between midnight and dawn. Hangmen and politicians work best when the human spirit is at its lowest ebb.
Russell Baker

A group of politicians deciding to dump a president because his morals are bad is like the Mafia getting together to bump off the Godfather for not going to church on Sunday.
Russell Baker

Politics is the gentle art of getting votes from the poor and campaign funds from the rich, by promising to protect each from the other.
Oscar Ameringer

If you want to curry favor with a politician, give him credit for something someone else did.
James Abourezk

He is too illiterate, unread, unlearned for his station and reputation.
John Adams, on George Washington

The effect of every sort of New Deal is to increase and prosper the criminal class. It teaches precisely what all professional criminals believe, to wit, that, it is neither virtuous nor necessary to suffer and to do without.
H.L. Mencken

When I am right, I get angry. Churchill gets angry when he is wrong. So we are often angry at each other.
Charles de Gaulle

These people really aim very badly.
Charles de Gaulle, after 120 bullets were fired at his car in an assassination attempt

My decision on this matter is as certain and final as death and the staggering New Deal taxes.
Thomas E. Dewey

There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment [Prohibition] as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail.
Sen. Morris Sheppard

Now I know what a statesman is; he's a dead politician. We need more statesmen.
Bob Edwards

If Gladstone fell into the Thames, that would be a misfortune, and if somebody pulled him out that, I suppose, would be a calamity.
Benjamin Disraeli

Gladstone: Mr. Disraeli, you will probably die by the hangman's noose or a vile disease.
Disraeli: Sir, that depends upon whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.
Benjamin Disraeli

WHEREAS, it has become obvious that three minutes is ample time for any member to speak to the record to impress the Folks Back Home, and WHEREAS, it is equally obvious that no member of this House can speak for longer than three minutes without repeating himself, ORDERED, that any member who speaks for longer than three minutes shall, at the sole discretion of the Speaker, be shot, stuffed and displayed in the State Museum -- bearing around his neck the legend --
Here am I, for E'er enshrined,
My mouth is open, teeth are shined;
My colleagues' treatment less than kind,
I talked them all deaf, dumb and blind.
James S. Erwin, of the Maine House of Representatives proposed in that assembly May 19, 1965

We bought the s.o.b. but he didn't stay bought.
Henry Clay Frick, American industrialist, on Teddy Roosevelt

Anybody who says he isn't going to resign, four times, definitely will.
John Kenneth Galbraith

Idealism increases in direct proportion to one's distance from the problem.
John Galsworthy

There is just one rule for politicians all over the world: Don't say in power what you say in Opposition; if you do, you only have to carry out what the other fellows have found impossible.
John Galsworthy

He has every attribute of a dog except loyalty.
Sen. Thomas Gore

Over the years, he [Everett Dirksen] developed a style of infinitely subtle fustian, whose effect can still be remotely approximated by sipping twelve-year-old bourbon, straight, while reading Dickens aloud, in a sort of sepulchral purr.
Lance Morrow

Once there were two brothers: one ran away to sea, the other was elected vice-president -- and nothing was ever heard from either of them again.
Thomas Marshall

Politics have no relation to Morals.
Niccolo Machiavelli

NRA -- Nuts Running America.
Huey P. Long, on FDR's National Recovery Act

In a political fight, when you've got nothing in favor on your side, start a row in the opposition camp.
Huey P. Long

He can compress the most words into the smallest ideas better than any man I ever met.
Abraham Lincoln

The Billy Carter of the British monarchy.
Robert Lacey on Princess Margaret

The politician's promises of yesterday are the taxes of today.
W.L. MacKenzie King

A press campaign of four months will convince the German people of the rightness of any idiocy you like to suggest.
Alfred von Kiderlen-Waechter

After eight years as President, I have only two regrets: that I have not shot Henry Clay or hanged John C. Calhoun.
Andrew Jackson

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

Not only did he [Dean Acheson] not suffer fools gladly, he did not suffer them at all.
Lester Pearson

When I took the oath as governor, I didn't take any vows of poverty.
Richard Leche, Louisina governor before going to jail for taking bribes

A politician ought to be born a foundling and remain a bachelor.
Claudia Johnson

A person with a compulsion to lie...has two choices: He can run to a psychiatrist or he can run for office.
John Murtaugh

When you play a slot machine, you have a chance of winning. That's the difference between a slot machine and a voting machine.
John Murtaugh

The worst thing that can happen to a good cause is not to be skillfully attacked but ineptly defended.
Fredrick Bastiat

The barefoot boy from Wall Street.
Harold Ickes describing Wendell Wilkie

Why doesn't the fellow who says, "I'm no speechmaker," let it go at that instead of giving a demonstration?"
Kin Hubbard

Hon Editor Cale Fluhart was a power politically fer years, but he never got prominent enough t' have his speeches garbled.
Kin Hubbard

Don't any of you realize there's only one life between that madman and the Presidency?
Mark Hanna, Republican National Chairman, on Teddy Roosevelt's nomination as Vice-President

Now look! That damned cowboy is president of the United States!
Mark Hanna, on Teddy Roosevelt after McKinley's assassination

[Madame Nhu was] the Sandra Dee of South Vietnam. If I were cast on a desert island with her, I would quickly make friends with the natives.
Oscar Levant

A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country.
Texas Guinan

He sprang from the grass roots of the country clubs of America.
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, of Wendell Willkie

I have discovered the art of fooling diplomats: I speak the truth and they never believe me.
Camillo di Cavour

A national campaign is better than the best circus ever heard of, with a mass baptism and a couple of hangings thrown in. It is better, even, than war.
H.L. Mencken

Professional politicians like to talk about the value of experience in government. Nuts! The only experience you gain in politics is how to be political.
Ronald Reagan

Once upon a time my political opponents honored me as possessing the fabulous intellectual and economic power by which I created a worldwide depression all by myself.
Herbert Hoover

The Republicans have a habit of having three bad years and one good one, and the good one always happens to be election years.
Will Rogers

I sometimes marvel at the extraordinary docility with which Americans submit to speeches.
Adlai Stevenson

The Right Honorable Gentleman has sat so long on the fence that the iron has entered his soul.
David Lloyd George, on English politician John Simon

What can a mere French minister do when associated with Lloyd George, who thinks he is Napoleon, and Woodrow Wilson, who thinks he is Jesus Christ?
Georges Clemenceau

If forced to choose between the penitentiary and the White House for four years, I would say the penetentiary, thank you.
William Sherman

[1930 will be] a splendid employment year.
U.S. Department of Labor, 1930

I do not consider Hitler to be as bad as he is depicted. He is showing an ability which is amazing and he seems to be gaining his victories without much bloodshed.
Mohandas K. Gandhi, May 1940

To err is human; to blame it on the other party is politics.

I do wear a size 13, and I want you to know that size is hard, but not impossible, to get in your mouth.
W. Willard Wirtz, Former Secretary of Labor

Everytime Europe looks across the Atlantic to see the American Eagle, it observes only the rear end of an ostrich.
H.G. Wells

No thank you, I do not propose to be buried until I am really dead and in my coffin.
Daniel Webster, in response to a suggestion that he run for vice-president

Senator Joseph McCarthy was one of the greatest Americans who ever lived.
John Wayne

He speaks to me as if I were a public meeting.
Queen Victoria, of Prime Minister Gladstone

A statesman is any politician it's considered safe to name a school after.
Bill Vaughan

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

George Washington, as a boy, was ignorant of the commonest accomplishments of youth. He could not even lie.
Mark Twain

Whenever a fellow tells me he's bipartisan, I know he's going to vote against me.
Harry S Truman

If I'd known how much packing I'd have to do, I'd have run again.
Harry S Truman, on leaving the White House

Herbert Hoover once ran on the slogan, "Two cars in every garage." Apparently the Republican candidate this year is running on the slogan, "Two families in every garage."
Harry S Truman

The Republicans favor a minimum wage -- the smaller the minimum the better.
Harry S Truman

We are not without accomplishment. We have managed to distribute poverty equally.
Nguyen Co Thach, Vietnamese minister

In America any boy may become president and I suppose it's just one of the risks he takes.
Adalai Stevenson

A candidate has a hard life -- he has to shave twice a day.
Adalai Stevenson

I shall not argue that it is necessarily fatal to change horses in midstream. But I doubt if it is wise to jump on a struggling two-headed elephant trying to swim in both directions at the same time in very rough water.
Adalai Stevenson

Liberal Republicans are like opera singers; when they are stabbed they don't die; they sing.
Adalai Stevenson

You must always remember that the President [Teddy Roosevelt] is about six.
Cecil Spring-Rice, British ambassador

The Right Honourable Gentleman is indebted to his memory for his jests and to his imagination for his facts.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan

He knows nothing; he thinks he knows everything - that clearly points to a political career.
George Bernard Shaw

In debate, one of my favorite words is "pismire." Everyone thinks it's a dirty word. Actually, it's a little red ant.
Senator Hugh Scott

A button collector is probably the only living person who can name every losing Vice Persidential candidate.
Robert Rouse

McKinley shows all the background of a chocolate eclair.
Theodore Roosevelt

I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

The first twelve years are the hardest.
Franklin D. Roosevelt on the presidency

Dealing with the State Department is like watching an elephant become pregnant.
Franklin D. Roosevelt

If you eliminate the names of Lincoln, Washington, Roosevelt, Jackson and Wilson, both conventions would get out three days earlier.
Will Rogers

Conferences are just like the poor and the Democrats, they will always be with us.
Will Rogers

The best thing about this group of candidates is that only one of them can win.
Will Rogers

I'm not a member of any organized party, I'm a Democrat.
Will Rogers

The South is dry and will vote dry. That is, everybody that is sober enough to stagger to the polls will.
Will Rogers

They [Congress] never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge.
Thomas Reed

If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in the American flag and talk about the constitution.
Matt Quay

Some people want to impeach Earl Warren. Hanging would be more deserved.
Colonel Mitchell Paige

Both sides cheat; it is simply the Democrats, having more experience, are more artful about it.
Len O'Connor

He is denouncing me? That's strange. I never did him a favor.
John Randolph

I hear you have abolitionists here. We have a few in Illinois, but we shot one the other day.
Abraham Lincoln, Speech at Worcester, MA 1848

Why would we have different races if God meant us to be alike and associate with each other?
Lester Maddox

I expect to fight that proposition until hell freezes over. Then I propose to start fighting on the ice.
Russell Long, Louisiana Senator on a JFK proposal to cutoff funds to areas practicing segregation

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