Quotes on Government, Governing, Politicians and Politics

“If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.” Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience, 1849
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“In dealing with the state, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every law and usage was a man’s expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable, all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better.” Ralph Raldo Emerson (1803-1882), Essays, Second Series (1844)
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“In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese monk, activist and writer
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“In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happened, you can bet it was planned that way.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt
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“In the councils of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex.. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together.” President Eisenhower, January 1961
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“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.” Josef Stalin
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“In the country of the blind the one-eyed man is king.” Erasmus (c.1469-1536)
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“It is a government of the people by the people for the people no longer it is a government of corporations by corporations for corporations.” Rutherford. B. Hayes
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“Hierarchies make some people dependent on others, blame the dependent for their dependency, and then use that dependency as a justification for further exercise of authority.” Martha Ackelsberg
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“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” Harry S Truman
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“It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” Voltaire
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“The government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that the end justifies the means—to declare that the government may commit crimes—would bring terrible retribution.” Justice Louis D. Brandeis
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“A general dissolution of the principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy… While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but once they lose their virtue, they will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader… If virtue and knowledge are diffused among the people, they will never be enslaved. This will be their great security.” John Adams
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“It is the utmost folly—it is just short of suicide—to take the position that citizens of any country should hold their tongues for fear of causing distress to the immediate and sometimes tortuous policies of their leaders.” Wendell Lewis Willkie
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“There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life—happiness, freedom, and peace of mind—are always attained by giving them to someone else.” Peyton Conway March (1864-1955), US Army General
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“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), 7th US President 1832
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“Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like.” Justice William O. Douglas (1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice, Points of Rebellion, 1969
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“It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes.” Andrew Jackson
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“It should be no surprise that when rich men take control of the government, they pass laws that are favorable to themselves. The surprise is that those who are not rich vote for such people, even though they should know from bitter experience that the rich will continue to rip off the rest of us. Perhaps the reason is that rich men are very clever at covering up what they do.” Andrew Greeley (Chicago Sun-Times, February 18, 2001)
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“It will be the duty of the Executive, with sufficient appropriations for the purpose, to prosecute unsparingly all who have been engaged in depriving citizens of the rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution.” Rutherford B. Hayes, 19th President of the United States

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Index to Quotes


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