In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained, the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses; which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favorites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, and eminent services, of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employment persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.
—Jonathan Swift (1667–1745) Irish Satirist
The old parties are husks, with no real soul within either, divided on artificial lines, boss-ridden and privilege-controlled, each a jumble of incongruous elements, and neither daring to speak out wisely and fearlessly on what should be said on the vital issues of the day.
—Theodore Roosevelt (1858–1919) American Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Explorer
I’m proud that I’m a politician. A politician is a man who understands government, and it takes a politician to run a government. A statesman is a politician whose been dead 10 or 15 years.
—Harry S. Truman (1884–1972) American Head of State
The proper memory for a politician is one that knows what to remember and what to forget.
—John Morley, 1st Viscount Morley of Blackburn (1838–1923) British Political Leader, Writer, Editor, Journalist
You are pitiful isolated individuals; you are bankrupts; your role is played out. Go where you belong from now on—into the dustbin of history!
—Leon Trotsky (1879–1940) Russian Marxist Revolutionary
I do not deny that there may be other well-founded causes for the hatred which various classes feel toward politicians, but the main one seems to me that politicians are symbols of the fact that every class must take every other class into account.
—Jose Ortega y. Gasset (1883–1955) Spanish Critic, Journalist, Philosopher
Politics are for foreigners with their endless wrongs and paltry rights. Politics are a lousy way to get things done. Politics are, like God’s infinite mercy, a last resort.
—P. J. O’Rourke (1947–2022) American Journalist, Political Satirist
Political correctness is the natural continuum from the party line. What we are seeing once again is a self-appointed group of vigilantes imposing their views on others. It is a heritage of communism, but they don’t seem to see this.
—Doris Lessing (1919–2013) British Novelist, Poet
A politician’s words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience.
—George Will (b.1941) American Columnist, Journalist, Writer
A politician divides mankind into two classes; tools and enemies.
—Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) German Philosopher, Scholar, Writer
It is silly to call fat people “gravitationally challenged”—a self-righteous fetishism of language which is no more than a symptom of political frustration.
Ignorance makes most men go into a political party, and shame keeps them from getting out of it.
—E. F. L. Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax (1881–1959) British Politician, Political leader
Resolved to ruin or to rule the state.
—John Dryden (1631–1700) English Poet, Literary Critic, Playwright
He knows very little of mankind who expects, by any facts or reasoning, to convince a determined party man.
—Johann Kaspar Lavater (1741–1801) Swiss Theologian, Poet
The Empress is legitimate, my cousin is Republican, Morny is Orleanist, I am a socialist; the only Bonapartist is Persigny, and he is mad.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) Emperor of France
The end of all political effort must be the well-being of the individual in the life of safety and freedom.
—Dag Hammarskjold (1905–61) Swedish Statesman, UN Diplomat
Republicans believe every day is the Fourth of July, but the democrats believe every day is April 15.
—Ronald Reagan (1911–2004) American Head of State
The two real political parties in America are the Winners and the Losers. The people don’t acknowledge this. They claim membership in two imaginary parties, the Republicans and the Democrats, instead.
—Kurt Vonnegut (1922–2007) American Novelist, Short Story Writer
Elected leaders who forget how they got there won’t the next time.
—Malcolm S. Forbes (1919–1990) American Publisher, Businessperson
All forms of consensus about “great” books and “perennial” problems, once stabilized, tend to deteriorate eventually into something philistine. The real life of the mind is always at the frontiers of “what is already known.” Those great books don’t only need custodians and transmitters. To stay alive, they also need adversaries. The most interesting ideas are heresies.
—Susan Sontag (1933–2004) American Writer, Philosopher
Any 20 year-old who isn’t a liberal doesn’t have a heart, and any 40 year-old who isn’t a conservative doesn’t have a brain.
—Winston Churchill (1874–1965) British Head of State, Political leader, Historian, Journalist, Author
The bright old day now dawns again; the cry runs through the land, in England there shall be dear bread—in Ireland, sword and brand; and poverty, and ignorance, shall swell the rich and grand, so rally round the rulers with the gentle iron hand, of the fine old English Tory days; hail to the coming time!
—Charles Dickens (1812–70) English Novelist
In politics, people give you what they think you deserve and deny you what they think you want.
—Cecil Parkinson (1931–2016) British Politician
If you allow a political catchword to go on and grow, you will awaken some day to find it standing over you, arbiter of your destiny, against which you are powerless.
—William Graham Sumner (1840–1910) American Polymath, Academic, Historian, Sociologist, Anthropologist
In politics stupidity is not a handicap.
—Napoleon I (1769–1821) Emperor of France
The essential ingredient in politics is timing.
—Pierre Trudeau (1919-2000) Canadian Statesman
You need to know that a member of Congress who refuses to allow the minimum wage to come up for a vote made more money during last year’s one-month government shutdown than a minimum wage worker makes in an entire year.
—Bill Clinton (b.1946) American Head of State, Lawyer, Public Speaker
We all know that Prime Ministers are wedded to the truth, but like other wedded couples they sometimes live apart.
—Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) (1870–1916) British Short Story Writer, Satirist, Historian
I get weary of the European habit of taking our money, resenting any slight hint as to what they should do, and then assuming, in addition, full right to criticize us as bitterly as they may desire.
—Dwight D. Eisenhower (1890–1969) American Head of State, Military Leader
A recent survey was said to prove that the people we Americans most admire are our politicians and doctors. I don’t believe it. They are simply the people we are most afraid of. And with the most reason.