Quotes on Politics

The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.

— Thomas Sowell

There is no virtue in compulsory government charity, and there is no virtue in advocating it. A politician who portrays himself as “caring” and “sensitive” because he wants to expand the government’s charitable programs is merely saying that he’s willing to try to do good with other people’s money. Well, who isn’t? And a voter who takes pride in supporting such programs is telling us that he’ll do good with his own money – if a gun is held to his head.

— P.J. O’Rourke

Politics are a lousy way for a free man to get things done.

— P.J. O’Rourke

Politics is the business of getting power and privilege without possessing merit. A politician is anyone who asks individuals to surrender part of their liberty — their power and privilege — to State, Masses, Mankind, Planet Earth, or whatever. This state, those masses, that mankind, and the planet will then be run by … politicians.

— P.J. O’Rourke

Whether it is exerted by ten men or by ten billion, political authority is force.

— Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers

I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.

— John Adams

Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you.

— Pericles (430 B.C)

It is a general popular error to imagine the loudest complainers for the public to be the most anxious for its welfare.

— Edmund Burke

Life, faculties, production — in other words, individuality, liberty, property — this is man. And in spite of the cunning of artful political leaders, these three gifts from God precede all human legislation, and are superior to it. Life, liberty, and property do not exist because men have made laws. On the contrary, it was the fact that life, liberty, and property existed beforehand that caused men to make laws in the first place.

— Frederic Bastiat, The Law

You can’t put your finger on a problem when you’ve got it to the wind.

— Dick Armey

No one will really understand politics until they understand that politicians are not trying to solve our problems. They are trying to solve their own problems – of which getting elected and re-elected are number one and number two. Whatever is number three is far behind.

— Thomas Sowell

Nature intended me for the tranquil pursuits of science, by rendering them my supreme delight. But the enormities of the times in which I have lived have forced me to commit myself on the boisterous ocean of political passions.

— Thomas Jefferson

A nation without means of reform is without means of survival.

— Edmund Burke

What this country needs is more unemployed politicians.

— Edward Langley

For my own part I have always felt that a politician is to be judged by the animosities which he excites among his opponents. I have always set myself not merely to relish but to deserve thoroughly their censure.

— Winston Churchill, Institute of Journalists Dinner, London (17 November, 1906)

You can talk about “social justice” all you want. But what death taxes boil down to is letting politicians take money from widows and orphans to pay for goodies that they will hand out to others, in order to buy votes to get reelected. That is not social justice or any other kind of justice.

— Thomas Sowell

Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end.

— Lord Acton

I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire.

— Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons (7 July, 1926)

If a politician can hold his job by lying, he will hold it by lying; if lying peters out, he will try to hold it by embracing new truths.

— H. L. Mencken

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

There are two sides to every issue: one side is right and the other is wrong, but the middle is always evil.

— Ayn Rand

One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.

— Plato

Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen.

— Dwight Eisenhower

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

The American Constitution, one of the few modern political documents drawn up by men who were forced by the sternest circumstances to think out what they really had to face, instead of chopping logic in a university classroom.

— George Bernard Shaw

If you have been voting for politicians who promise to give you goodies at someone else’s expense, then you have no right to complain when they take your money and give it to someone else, including themselves.

— Thomas Sowell

Life has many good things. The problem is that most of these good things can be gotten only by sacrificing other good things. We all recognize this in our daily lives. It is only in politics that this simple, common sense fact is routinely ignored.

— Thomas Sowell

Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises; for never intending to go beyond promises, it costs nothing.

— Edmund Burke

The twentieth century was one in which limits on state power were removed in order to let the intellectuals run with the ball, and they screwed everything up and turned the century into an abattoir? We Americans are the only ones who didn’t get creamed at some point during all of this. We are free and prosperous because we have inherited political and value systems fabricated by a particular set of eighteenth-century intellectuals who happened to get it right. But we have lost touch with those intellectuals.

— Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning Was the Command Line, p. 53

[Lobbying] is the result and creation of a mixed economy-of government by pressure groups.

— Ayn Rand

When politics are used to allocate resources, the resources all end up being allocated to politics.

— P.J. O’Rourke

The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of Patriotism…. It should be the highest ambition of every American to extend his views beyond himself, and to bear in mind that his conduct will not only affect himself, his country, and his immediate posterity; but that its influence may be co-extensive with the world, and stamp political happiness or misery on ages yet unborn.

— George Washington

Political freedom means the absence of coercion of a man by his fellow men. The fundamental threat to freedom is power to coerce, be it in the hands of a monarch, a dictator, an oligarchy, or a momentary majority. The preservation of freedom requires the elimination of such concentration of power to the fullest possible extent and the dispersal and distribution of whatever power cannot be eliminated – a system of checks and balances.

— Milton Friedman