Elections Voting Quotes

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Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half.
Gore Vidal (Screening History)
Elections belong to the people. It's their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.
Abraham Lincoln
A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user.
Theodore Roosevelt
As societies grow decadent, the language grows decadent, too. Words are used to disguise, not to illuminate, action: you liberate a city by destroying it. Words are to confuse, so that at election time people will solemnly vote against their own interests.
Gore Vidal
Politics: the art of using euphemisms, lies, emotionalism and fear-mongering to dupe average people into accepting--or even demanding--their own enslavement.
Larken Rose
Presidents are selected, not elected.
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Listen, Peaches, trickery is what humans are all about," said the voice of Maurice. "They're so keen on tricking one another all the time that they elect governments to do it for them.
Terry Pratchett (The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (Discworld, #28))
Every election is determined by the people who show up.
Larry J. Sabato (Pendulum Swing)
On Undecided Voter​s: "To put them in perspective, I think​ of being​ on an airplane.​ The flight attendant comes​ down the aisle​ with her food cart and, eventually,​ parks​ it beside my seat.​ “Can I inter​est you in the chick​en?​” she asks.​ “Or would​ you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broke​n glass​ in it?” To be undecided in this elect​ion is to pause​ for a moment and then ask how the chick​en is cooked.
David Sedaris
When widely followed public figures feel free to say anything, without any fact-checking, it becomes impossible for a democracy to think intelligently about big issues.
Thomas L. Friedman
The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots.
H.L. Mencken
The Ephebians believed that every man should have the vote (provided that he wasn't poor, foreign, nor disqualified by reason of being mad, frivolous, or a woman). Every five years someone was elected to be Tyrant, provided he could prove that he was honest, intelligent, sensible, and trustworthy. Immediately after he was elected, of course, it was obvious to everyone that he was a criminal madman and totally out of touch with the view of the ordinary philosopher in the street looking for a towel. And then five years later they elected another one just like him, and really it was amazing how intelligent people kept on making the same mistakes.
Terry Pratchett (Small Gods (Discworld, #13))
October 6, 1774 I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them 1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy 2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and 3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.
John Wesley (Journal of John Wesley)
Voting is not a right. It is a method used to determine which politician was most able to brainwash you.
Dennis E. Adonis
Pops added,"you know, they say if you don't vote, you get the government you deserve." "And if you do, you never get the results you expected," (Katherine) replied.
E.A. Bucchianeri (Brushstrokes of a Gadfly, (Gadfly Saga, #1))
...they say if you don't vote, you get the government you deserve, and if you do, you never get the results you expected.
E.A. Bucchianeri (Brushstrokes of a Gadfly, (Gadfly Saga, #1))
The ruling power is always faced with the question, ‘In such and such circumstances, what would you do?’, whereas the opposition is not obliged to take responsibility or make any real decisions.
George Orwell
Boys are idiots. Girls are idiots, too, of course, but boys are a special kind of idiot. A girl, for instance, will vote for a boy in an election, or go to a movie that's about a boy, or buy a book that features a boy hero (or villain). Boys are much less likely to return the favor. They can't wrap their feeble minds around the idea that this girl might have anything in common with them. It's like they can't recognize girls as human beings.
Josh Lieb (I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President)
If I were to vote, I would intentionally vote for the goofiest candidate. It is my theory that when the people can outwit the leader, the more respected their voices will be.
Criss Jami (Killosophy)
Elections are won by men and women chiefly because most people vote against somebody rather than for somebody.
Franklin P. Adams
Democracy is not simply a license to indulge individual whims and proclivities. It is also holding oneself accountable to some reasonable degree for the conditions of peace and chaos that impact the lives of those who inhabit one’s beloved extended community.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good. 'Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
People who think with their epidermis or their genitalia or their clan are the problem to begin with. One does not banish this specter by invoking it. If I would not vote against someone on the grounds of 'race' or 'gender' alone, then by the exact same token I would not cast a vote in his or her favor for the identical reason. Yet see how this obvious question makes fairly intelligent people say the most alarmingly stupid things.
Christopher Hitchens
Our freedoms are vanishing. If you do not get active to take a stand now against all that is wrong while we still can, then maybe one of your children may elect to do so in the future, when it will be far more riskier — and much, much harder.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
How many more of these stinking, double-downer sideshows will we have to go through before we can get ourselves straight enough to put together some kind of national election that will give me and the at least 20 million people I tend to agree with a chance to vote FOR something, instead of always being faced with that old familiar choice between the lesser of two evils?
Hunter S. Thompson (Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72)
Do the unexpected. Take 20 minutes out of your day, do what young people all over the world are dying to do: vote.
Rick Mercer
I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute - where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote - where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference - and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him. I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish - where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source - where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials - and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all. [Remarks to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, September 12 1960]
John F. Kennedy
[The American President] has to take all sorts of abuse from liars and demagogues.… The people can never understand why the President does not use his supposedly great power to make ’em behave. Well, 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
In the next election, I'm voting for your mom to be the next God.
David Levithan
I felt free and chained at the same time - like one feels just before election, when all the crooks have been nominated and you are beseeched to vote for the right man.
Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer (Tropic, #1))
Now that everyone could vote from home, via the OASIS, the only people who could get elected were movie stars, reality TV personalities, or radical televangelists..
Ernest Cline (Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1))
Since Jimmy Carter, religious fundamentalists play a major role in elections. He was the first president who made a point of exhibiting himself as a born again Christian. That sparked a little light in the minds of political campaign managers: Pretend to be a religious fanatic and you can pick up a third of the vote right away. Nobody asked whether Lyndon Johnson went to church every day. Bill Clinton is probably about as religious as I am, meaning zero, but his managers made a point of making sure that every Sunday morning he was in the Baptist church singing hymns.
Noam Chomsky
Krista asks,"What is it about society that disappoints you so much?" Elliot thinks, "Oh I don't know, is it that we collectively thought Steve Jobs was a great man even when we knew he made billions off the backs of children? Or maybe it's that it feels like all our heroes are counterfeit; the world itself's just one big hoax. Spamming each other with our burning commentary of bullshit masquerading as insight, our social media faking as intimacy. Or is it that we voted for this? Not with our rigged elections, but with our things, our property, our money. I'm not saying anything new. We all know why we do this, not because Hunger Games books makes us happy but because we wanna be sedated. Because it's painful not to pretend, because we're cowards. Fuck Society." "Mr. Robot" season 1 episode 1, 'ohellofriend.mov
Sam Esmail
After all, your chances of winning a lottery and of affecting an election are pretty similar. From a financial perspective, playing the lottery is a bad investment. But it's fun and relatively cheap: for the price of a ticket, you buy the right to fantasize how you'd spend the winnings - much as you get to fantasize that your vote will have some impact on policy.
Steven D. Levitt (Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything)
Discourse and critical thinking are essential tools when it comes to securing progress in a democratic society. But in the end, unity and engaged participation are what make it happen.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
General Motors, General Mills, General Foods, general ignorance, general apathy, and general cussedness elect presidents and Congressmen and maintain them in power.
Herbert M. Shelton
When picking a leader, choose a peacemaker. One who unites, not divides. A cultured leader who supports the arts and true freedom of speech, not censorship.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Always vote for principle, though you may vote alone, and you may cherish the sweetest reflection that your vote is never lost.
John Quincy Adams
The job facing American voters… in the days and years to come is to determine which hearts, minds and souls command those qualities best suited to unify a country rather than further divide it, to heal the wounds of a nation as opposed to aggravate its injuries, and to secure for the next generation a legacy of choices based on informed awareness rather than one of reactions based on unknowing fear.
Aberjhani (Illuminated Corners: Collected Essays and Articles Volume I.)
That we have the vote means nothing. That we use it in the right way means everything.
Lou Henry Hoover
THERE'S NO MONKEY BUSINESS ABOUT THIS ELECTION,' he told the voters. 'IF YOU'RE ENOUGH OF AN ASSHOLE TO VOTE FOR NIXON, YOUR DUMB VOTE WILL BE COUNTED––JUST LIKE ANYBODY ELSE!
John Irving (A Prayer for Owen Meany)
I have an idea about voting, how about on every ballot we include "None of the above". People may laugh at that, but what that is, it is a vote of no confidence in your government and I'm willing to bet that in some elections, 'None of the Above' would win. Imagine if you won the election but lost to 'None of the Above'. Wouldn't that make you re-think your positions?
Jesse Ventura
We all play a role in this democracy. We need to remember the power of every vote. I continue, too, to keep myself connected to a force that’s larger and more potent than any one election, or leader, or news story—and that’s optimism. For me, this is a form of faith, an antidote to fear.
Michelle Obama (Becoming)
No man will ever bring out of that office the reputation which carries him into it. The honeymoon would be as short in that case as in any other, and its moments of ecstasy would be ransomed by years of torment and hatred.
Thomas Jefferson
When a stupid government is elected in a democratic country, the best thing about this is that you learn the number of stupid people in that country!
Mehmet Murat ildan
We are not born to accommodate tyranny over our hearts, minds, bodies, or souls. We are here to confirm an abundance of love-inspired possibilities greater than such restrictions.
Aberjhani (Splendid Literarium: A Treasury of Stories, Aphorisms, Poems, and Essays)
A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won't cross the street to vote in a national election.
Bill Vaughan
Pick a leader who will make their citizens proud. One who will stir the hearts of the people, so that the sons and daughters of a given nation strive to emulate their leader's greatness. Only then will a nation be truly great, when a leader inspires and produces citizens worthy of becoming future leaders, honorable decision makers and peacemakers. And in these times, a great leader must be extremely brave. Their leadership must be steered only by their conscience, not a bribe.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
I am an ambassador," Akretenesh warned me, anger bringing his confidence back. "You cannot shoot." "I don't mean to," I reassured him, still smiling. I adopted his soothing tones. "Indeed, you are the only man I won't shoot. But if I aimed at anyone else, it might give others a dangerously mistaken sense of their own safety." I raised my voice a trifle, though it wasn't really necessary. "We will have another vote, Xorcheus." They elected me Sounis. It was unanimous.
Megan Whalen Turner (A Conspiracy of Kings (The Queen's Thief, #4))
Pick a leader who is strong and confident, yet humble. Intelligent, but not sly. A leader who encourages diversity, not racism. One who understands the needs of the farmer, the teacher, the welder, the doctor, and the environmentalist -- not only the banker, the oil tycoon, the weapons developer, or the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyist.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Pick a leader who will keep jobs in your country by offering companies incentives to hire only within their borders, not one who allows corporations to outsource jobs for cheaper labor when there is a national employment crisis. Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
The heart of democracy is violence, Miss Tagwynn,” Esterbrook said. “In order to decide what to do, we take a count of everyone for and against it, and then do whatever the larger side wishes to do. We’re having a symbolic battle, its outcome decided by simple numbers. It saves us time and no end of trouble counting actual bodies—but don’t mistake it for anything but ritualized violence. And every few years, if the person we elected doesn’t do the job we wanted, we vote him out of office—we symbolically behead him and replace him with someone else. Again, without the actual pain and bloodshed, but acting out the ritual of violence nonetheless. It’s actually a very practical way of getting things done.
Jim Butcher (The Aeronaut's Windlass (The Cinder Spires, #1))
Russians who voted in 1990 did not think that this would be the last free and fair election in their country’s history, which (thus far) it has been.
Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)
[Slitscan's audience] is best visualized as a vicious, lazy, profoundly ignorant, perpetually hungry organism craving the warm god-flesh of the anointed. Personally I like to imagine something the size of a baby hippo, the color of a week-old boiled potato, that lives by itself, in the dark, in a double-wide on the outskirts of Topeka. It's covered with eyes and it sweats constantly. The sweat runs into those eyes and makes them sting. It has no mouth, Laney, no genitals, and can only express its mute extremes of murderous rage and infantile desire by changing the channels on a universal remote. Or by voting in presidential elections.
William Gibson (Idoru (Bridge, #2))
Can't wait for tomorrow when I get to exercise my patriotic duty as an American: Complaining about how long it's taking to VOTE.
Stephen Colbert
The changes that take place when liberal Democrats replace not so liberal or compassionate Republicans (or Democrats) are merely cosmetic.
David T. Dellinger
There's no such thing as a vote that doesn't matter.
Barack Obama
Capitalism is not just an economic system but an entire social order. Once it takes hold, it is not voted out of existence by electing socialists or communists.
Michael Parenti (Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism)
There are also those who delusively if not enthusiastically surrender their liberty for the mastermind’s false promises of human and societal perfectibility. He hooks them with financial bribes in the form of ‘entitlements.’ And he makes incredible claims about indefectible health, safety, educational, and environmental policies, the success of which is to be measured not in the here and now but in the distant future. For these reasons and more, some become fanatics for the cause. They take to the streets and, ironically, demand their own demise as they protest against their own self-determination and for ever more autocracy and authoritarianism. When they vote, they vote to enchain not only their fellow citizens but, unwittingly, themselves. Paradoxically, as the utopia metastasizes and the society ossifies, elections become less relevant. More and more decisions are made by the masterminds and their experts, who substitute their self-serving and dogmatic judgments — which are proclaimed righteous and compassionate — for the the individual’s self-interests and best interests.
Mark R. Levin (Ameritopia: The Unmaking of America)
The dirty secret of the neoliberal era is that these ideas were never defeated in a great battle of ideas, nor were they voted down in elections. They were shocked out of the way at key political junctures.
Naomi Klein (The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism)
Most likely they told her a whole lot of damned things she wasn't allowed to do, for a range of different reasons. But she damned well did them all the same. A few years after she was born they were still telling girls they couldn't vote in the bleeding elections, but now the girls do it all the same. That's damned well how you stand up to bastards who tell you what you can and and't do. You bloody do those things all the bloody same.
Fredrik Backman (My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry)
America is a land where a citizen will cross the ocean to fight for democracy - and wont cross the street to vote in a national election.
Bill Vaughn
It is perhaps a sign of the strength of our republic that so few people feel the need to participate. That must be the reason.
Jon Stewart (America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction)
Ballot papers do not define leaders. Leadership is defined by conviction, vision, passion and inspiration.
Israelmore Ayivor
Authority confined in you does not make you a leader. It is the authority created by you that makes you influence people with your purpose.
Israelmore Ayivor
Democracy's fatal flaw: There are more dumb people than smart people. Welcome to the new Dark Ages!
Oliver Gaspirtz
members of labor unions, and un-organized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers - themselves desparately afraid of being downsized - are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else. At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for - someone willing to assure them that once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen and post modernist professors will no longer be calling the shots... One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion... All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet pp89-90
Richard Rorty
To vastly improve your country and truly make it great again, start by choosing a better leader. Do not let the media or the establishment make you pick from the people they choose, but instead choose from those they do not pick.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
Passionate people are always ready to stand for their dreams even if no one stand with them. They vote and vote alone for their dreams but never loss their nomination for excellent leadership!
Israelmore Ayivor (The Great Hand Book of Quotes)
When we support or vote for candidates outside the two major political parties we are immediately lectured about wasting our vote or making it easier for the less desirable of the two major candidates to claim victory. These lies are repeated every election and they must be ignored. You never waste your vote if you vote your conscience.
Glenn Beck (Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine)
The hero of a David Lodge novel says that you don’t know, when you make love for the last time, that you are making love for the last time. Voting is like that. Some of the Germans who voted for the Nazi Party in 1932 no doubt understood that this might be the last meaningfully free election for some time, but most did not. Some of the Czechs and Slovaks who voted for the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1946 probably realized that they were voting for the end of democracy, but most assumed they would have another chance. No doubt the Russians who voted in 1990 did not think that this would be the last free and fair election in their country’s history, which (thus far) it has been. Any election can be the last, or at least the last in the lifetime of the person casting the vote.
Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)
Voting, we might even say, is the next to last refuge of the politically impotent. The last refuge is, of course, giving your opinion to a pollster, who will get a version of it through a desiccated question, and then will submerge it in a Niagara of similar opinions, and convert them into--what else?--another piece of news. Thus we have here a great loop of impotence: The news elicits from you a variety of opinions about which you can do nothing except to offer them as more news, about which you can do nothing.
Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business)
But did you know that during the past quarter century, no presidential election has been won by more than ten million ballots cast? Yet every federal election during the same time period had at least one hundred million people of voting age who did not bother to vote!
Andy Andrews (How Do You Kill 11 Million People? Why The Truth Matters More Than You Think)
In proportion as the mass of citizens who possess political rights increases, and the number of elected ruler’s increases, the actual power is concentrated and becomes the monopoly of a smaller and smaller group of individuals.
Paul Lafargue
You can lead if you can serve. You can serve when you can love. You can love when you are graced. The truth is that God knows love will be needed in volumes, this is why he made his grace abundant. Leaders are lovers. Misleaders are haters!
Israelmore Ayivor
Try to roll with the punches. Keep your chin up. Don’t take any wooden nickels. Vote Democrat in every election. Ride your bike in the park. Dream about my perfect, golden body. Take your vitamins. Drink eight glasses of water a day. Pull for the Mets. Watch a lot of movies. Don’t work too hard at your job. Take a trip to Paris with me. Come to the hospital when Rachel has her baby and hold my grandchild in your arms. Brush your teeth after every meal. Don’t cross the street on a red light. Defend the little guy. Stick up for yourself. Remember how beautiful you are. Remember how much I love you. Drink one Scotch on the rocks every day. Breathe deeply. Keep your eyes open. Stay away from fatty foods. Sleep the sleep of the just. Remember how much I love you.
Paul Auster (The Brooklyn Follies)
Life is political, not because the world cares about how you feel, but because the world reacts to what you do. The minor choices we make are a kind of vote, making it more or less likely that free and fair elections will be held in the future. In the politics of the everyday, our words and gestures, or their absence, count very much.
Timothy Snyder (On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century)
There is a great new work before us, which is to replace with true knowledge the ignorance that has destroyed human minds. We will construct unity in a world [which] has been brutally torn apart by false divisions of race, religion, gender, nationality, and age. We will heal with unconditional love those souls whose hearts have been disfigured by hatred and loneliness.
Aberjhani (Songs from the Black Skylark zPed Music Player)
Elect the king or queen—what a funny concept. Everyone knew that elections only worked for judges and Congress. Making the executive branch pander to the people, go out begging for votes—that could only end in disaster. That structure would attract the wrong sort of people: power-hungry people with twisted agendas.
Katharine McGee (American Royals (American Royals, #1))
Well, anyway, by the time it got ready to vote, it looked like a fella wouldn’t be able to have no fun at all anymore, if my opponents were elected. About all a fella would be able to do, without getting arrested, was to drink sody-pop and maybe kiss his wife. And no one liked the idea very much, the wives included.
Jim Thompson (Pop. 1280)
In the natural sciences, some checks exist on the prolonged acceptance of nutty ideas, which do not hold up well under experimental and observational tests and cannot readily be shown to give rise to useful working technologies. But in economics and the other social studies, nutty ideas may hang around for centuries. Today, leading presidential candidates and tens of millions of voters in the USA embrace ideas that might have been drawn from a 17th-century book on the theory and practice of mercantilism, and multitudes of politicians and ordinary people espouse notions that Adam Smith, David Ricardo, and others exploded more than two centuries ago. In these realms, nearly everyone simply believes whatever he feels good about believing.
Robert Higgs
If I could remove one thing from the world and replace it with something else, I would erase politics and put art in its place. That way, art teachers would rule the world. And since art is the most supreme form of love, beautiful colors and imagery would weave bridges for peace wherever there are walls. Artists, who are naturally heart-driven, would decorate the world with their love, and in that love — poverty, hunger, lines of division, and wars would vanish from the earth forever. Children of the earth would then be free to play, imagine, create, build and grow without bloodshed, terror and fear.
Suzy Kassem (Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem)
I shall not vote for Sen. Obama and it will not be because he—like me and like all of us—carries African genes. And I shall not be voting for Mrs. Clinton, who has the gall to inform me after a career of overweening entitlement that there is 'a double standard' at work for women in politics; and I assure you now that this decision of mine has only to do with the content of her character. We will know that we have put this behind us when [...] we have outgrown and forgotten the original prejudice.
Christopher Hitchens
At the federal level, this problem could be greatly alleviated by abolishing the Electoral College system. It's the winner-take-all mathematics from state to state that delivers so much power to a relative handful of voters. It's as if in politics, as in economics, we have a privileged 1 percent. And the money from the financial 1 percent underwrites the microtargeting to secure the votes of the political 1 percent. Without the Electoral College, by contrast, every vote would be worth exactly the same. That would be a step toward democracy.
Cathy O'Neil (Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy)
At least two important conservative thinkers, Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss, were unbelievers or nonbelievers and in any case contemptuous of Christianity. I have my own differences with both of these savants, but is the Republican Party really prepared to disown such modern intellectuals as it can claim, in favor of a shallow, demagogic and above all sectarian religiosity? Perhaps one could phrase the same question in two further ways. At the last election, the GOP succeeded in increasing its vote among American Jews by an estimated five percentage points. Does it propose to welcome these new adherents or sympathizers by yelling in the tones of that great Democrat bigmouth William Jennings Bryan? By insisting that evolution is 'only a theory'? By demanding biblical literalism and by proclaiming that the Messiah has already shown himself? If so, it will deserve the punishment for hubris that is already coming its way. (The punishment, in other words, that Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson believed had struck America on Sept. 11, 2001. How can it be that such grotesque characters, calling down divine revenge on the workers in the World Trade Center, are allowed a respectful hearing, or a hearing at all, among patriotic Republicans?). [. . . And Why I'm Most Certainly Not! -- The Wall Street Journal, Commentary Column. May 5, 2005]
Christopher Hitchens
This toy of voting was almost as pleasing as the conch. Jack started to protest but the clamor changed from the general wish for a chief to an election by acclaim of Ralph himself. None of the boys could have found good reason for this; what intelligence had been shown was traceable to Piggy while the most obvious leader was Jack. But there was a stillness about Ralph as he sat that marked him out: there was his size, and attractive appearance; and most obscurely, yet most powerfully, there was the conch. The being that had blown that, had sat waiting for them on the platform with the delicate thing balanced on his knees, was set apart.
William Golding (Lord of the Flies)
When I talk about a political revolution, what I am referring to is the need to do more than just win the next election. It's about creating a situation where we are involving millions of people in the process who are not now involved, and changing the nature of media so they are talking about issues that reflect the needs and the pains that so many of our people are currently feeling. A campaign has got to be much more than just getting votes and getting elected. It has got to be helping to educate people, organize people. If we can do that, we can change the dynamic of politics for years and years to come. If 80 to 90 percent of the people in this country vote, if they know what the issues are (and make demands based on that knowledge), Washington and Congress will look very, very different from the Congress currently dominated by big money and dealing only with the issues that big money wants them to deal with.
Bernie Sanders (Outsider in the White House)
At present, the successful office-seeker is a good deal like the center of the earth; he weighs nothing himself, but draws everything else to him. There are so many societies, so many churches, so many isms, that it is almost impossible for an independent man to succeed in a political career. Candidates are forced to pretend that they are catholics with protestant proclivities, or christians with liberal tendencies, or temperance men who now and then take a glass of wine, or, that although not members of any church their wives are, and that they subscribe liberally to all. The result of all this is that we reward hypocrisy and elect men entirely destitute of real principle; and this will never change until the people become grand enough to allow each other to do their own thinking. Our government should be entirely and purely secular. The religious views of a candidate should be kept entirely out of sight. He should not be compelled to give his opinion as to the inspiration of the bible, the propriety of infant baptism, or the immaculate conception. All these things are private and personal. The people ought to be wise enough to select as their officers men who know something of political affairs, who comprehend the present greatness, and clearly perceive the future grandeur of our country. If we were in a storm at sea, with deck wave-washed and masts strained and bent with storm, and it was necessary to reef the top sail, we certainly would not ask the brave sailor who volunteered to go aloft, what his opinion was on the five points of Calvinism. Our government has nothing to do with religion. It is neither christian nor pagan; it is secular. But as long as the people persist in voting for or against men on account of their religious views, just so long will hypocrisy hold place and power. Just so long will the candidates crawl in the dust—hide their opinions, flatter those with whom they differ, pretend to agree with those whom they despise; and just so long will honest men be trampled under foot.
Robert G. Ingersoll (Some Mistakes of Moses)
Meaning is created when many people weave together a common network of stories. Why does a particular action – such as getting married in church, fasting on Ramadan or voting on election day – seem meaningful to me? Because my parents also think it is meaningful, as do my brothers, my neighbours, people in nearby cities and even the residents of far-off countries. And why do all these people think it is meaningful? Because their friends and neighbours also share the same view. People constantly reinforce each other’s beliefs in a self-perpetuating loop. Each round of mutual confirmation tightens the web of meaning further, until you have little choice but to believe what everyone else believes.
Yuval Noah Harari (Homo Deus: ‘An intoxicating brew of science, philosophy and futurism’ Mail on Sunday)
Once upon a time, my government turned my city into a police state, kidnapped me, and tortured me. When I got free, I decided that the problem wasn’t the system, but who was running it. Bad guys had gotten into places of high office. We needed good apples. I worked my butt off to get people to vote for good apples. We had elections. We installed the kind of apples everyone agreed would be the kind of apples we could be proud of. They said good things. A few real dirtbags like Carrie Johnstone lost their jobs. And then, well, the good apples turned out to act pretty much exactly like the bad apples. Oh, they had reasons. There were emergencies. Circumstances. It was all really regrettable. But there were always emergencies, weren’t there?
Cory Doctorow (Homeland (Little Brother, #2))
But too many of Trump’s core supporters do hold views that I find—there’s no other word for it—deplorable. And while I’m sure a lot of Trump supporters had fair and legitimate reasons for their choice, it is an uncomfortable and unavoidable fact that everyone who voted for Donald Trump—all 62,984,825 of them—made the decision to elect a man who bragged about sexual assault, attacked a federal judge for being Mexican and grieving Gold Star parents who were Muslim, and has a long and well-documented history of racial discrimination in his businesses. That doesn’t mean every Trump voter approved of those things, but at a minimum they accepted or overlooked them. And they did it without demanding the basics that Americans used to expect from all presidential candidates, from releasing tax returns to offering substantive policy proposals to upholding common standards of decency.
Hillary Rodham Clinton (What Happened)
People aren’t really needed for anything else in the Griftopia, but since Americans require the illusion of self-government, we have elections. To make sure those elections are effectively meaningless as far as Wall Street is concerned, two things end up being true. One is that voters on both sides of the aisle are gradually weaned off that habit of having real expectations for their politicians, consuming the voting process entirely as culture-war entertainment. The other is that millions of tenuously middle-class voters are conned into pushing Wall Street’s own twisted greed ethos as though it were their own. The Tea Party, with its weirdly binary view of society as being split up cleanly into competing groups of producers and parasites—that’s just a cultural echo of the insane greed-is-good belief system on Wall Street that’s provided the foundation/excuse for a generation of brilliantly complex thievery. Those beliefs have trickled down to the ex-middle-class suckers struggling to stay on top of their mortgages and their credit card bills, and the real joke is that these voters listen to CNBC and Fox and they genuinely believe they’re the producers in this binary narrative. They don’t get that somewhere way up above, there’s a group of people who’ve been living the Atlas dream for real—and building a self-dealing financial bureaucracy in their own insane image.
Matt Taibbi (Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America)
With a century and change between the 1880 convention and now, I’ll admit I rolled my eyes at the ideological hairsplitting, wondering how a group of people who more or less agreed with one another about most issues could summon forth such stark animosity. Thankfully, we Americans have evolved, our hearts made larger, our minds more open, welcoming the negligible differences among our fellows with compassion and respect. As a Democrat who voted for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, an election suspiciously tipped to tragic Republican victory because of a handful of contested ballots in the state of Florida, I, for one, would never dream of complaining about the votes siphoned in that state by my fellow liberal Ralph Nader, who convinced citizens whose hopes for the country differ little from my own to vote for him, even though had those votes gone to Gore, perhaps those citizens might have spent their free time in the years to come more pleasurably pursuing leisure activities, such as researching the sacrifice of Family Garfield, instead of attending rallies and protests against wars they find objectionable, not to mention the money saved on aspirin alone considering they’ll have to pop a couple every time they read the newspaper, wondering if the tap water with which they wash down the pills is safe enough to drink considering the corporate polluter lobbyists now employed at the EPA.
Sarah Vowell (Assassination Vacation)
The political merchandisers appeal only to the weak­nesses of voters, never to their potential strength. They make no attempt to educate the masses into becoming fit for self-government; they are content merely to manipulate and exploit them. For this pur­pose all the resources of psychology and the social sciences are mobilized and set to work. Carefully se­lected samples of the electorate are given "interviews in depth." These interviews in depth reveal the uncon­scious fears and wishes most prevalent in a given so­ciety at the time of an election. Phrases and images aimed at allaying or, if necessary, enhancing these fears, at satisfying these wishes, at least symbolically, are then chosen by the experts, tried out on readers and audiences, changed or improved in the light of the information thus obtained. After which the political campaign is ready for the mass communicators. All that is now needed is money and a candidate who can be coached to look "sincere." Under the new dispen­sation, political principles and plans for specific action have come to lose most of their importance. The person­ality of the candidate and the way he is projected by the advertising experts are the things that really mat­ter. In one way or another, as vigorous he-man or kindly father, the candidate must be glamorous. He must also be an entertainer who never bores his audience. Inured to television and radio, that audience is accustomed to being distracted and does not like to be asked to con­centrate or make a prolonged intellectual effort. All speeches by the entertainer-candidate must therefore be short and snappy. The great issues of the day must be dealt with in five minutes at the most -- and prefera­bly (since the audience will be eager to pass on to something a little livelier than inflation or the H-bomb) in sixty seconds flat. The nature of oratory is such that there has always been a tendency among politicians and clergymen to over-simplify complex is­sues. From a pulpit or a platform even the most con­scientious of speakers finds it very difficult to tell the whole truth. The methods now being used to merchan­dise the political candidate as though he were a deo­dorant positively guarantee the electorate against ever hearing the truth about anything.
Aldous Huxley
Among us English-speaking peoples especially do the praises of poverty need once more to be boldly sung. We have grown literally afraid to be poor. We despise any one who elects to be poor in order to simplify and save his inner life. If he does not join the general scramble and pant with the money-making street, we deem him spiritless and lacking in ambition. We have lost the power even of imagining what the ancient idealization of poverty could have meant: the liberation from material attachments, the unbribed soul, the manlier indifference, the paying our way by what we are or do and not by what we have, the right to fling away our life at any moment irresponsibly—the more athletic trim, in short, the moral fighting shape. When we of the so-called better classes are scared as men were never scared in history at material ugliness and hardship; when we put off marriage until our house can be artistic, and quake at the thought of having a child without a bank-account and doomed to manual labor, it is time for thinking men to protest against so unmanly and irreligious a state of opinion. It is true that so far as wealth gives time for ideal ends and exercise to ideal energies, wealth is better than poverty and ought to be chosen. But wealth does this in only a portion of the actual cases. Elsewhere the desire to gain wealth and the fear to lose it are our chief breeders of cowardice and propagators of corruption. There are thousands of conjunctures in which a wealth-bound man must be a slave, whilst a man for whom poverty has no terrors becomes a freeman. Think of the strength which personal indifference to poverty would give us if we were devoted to unpopular causes. We need no longer hold our tongues or fear to vote the revolutionary or reformatory ticket. Our stocks might fall, our hopes of promotion vanish, our salaries stop, our club doors close in our faces; yet, while we lived, we would imperturbably bear witness to the spirit, and our example would help to set free our generation. The cause would need its funds, but we its servants would be potent in proportion as we personally were contented with our poverty. I recommend this matter to your serious pondering, for it is certain that the prevalent fear of poverty among the educated classes is the worst moral disease from which our civilization suffers.
William James (Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature)
As it is not a settled question, you must clear your mind of the fancy with which we all begin as children, that the institutions under which we live, including our legal ways of distributing income and allowing people to own things, are natural, like the weather. They are not. Because they exist everywhere in our little world, we take it for granted that they have always existed and must always exist, and that they are self-acting. That is a dangerous mistake. They are in fact transient makeshifts; and many of them would not be obeyed, even by well-meaning people, if there were not a policeman within call and a prison within reach. They are being changed continually by Parliament, because we are never satisfied with them.... At the elections some candidates get votes by promising to make new laws or to get rid of old ones, and others by promising to keep things just as they are. This is impossible. Things will not stay as they are. Changes that nobody ever believed possible take place in a few generations. Children nowadays think that spending nine years in school, oldage and widows’ pensions, votes for women, and short-skirted ladies in Parliament or pleading in barristers’ wigs in the courts are part of the order of Nature, and always were and ever shall be; but their great-grandmothers would have set down anyone who told them that such things were coming as mad, and anyone who wanted them to come as wicked.
George Bernard Shaw (The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism)
[R]esitance is by nature reactive; it is not forward-looking. And anti-Trumpism is not a politics. My worry is that liberals will get so caught up in countering his every move, essentially playing his game, that they will fail to seize -- or even recognize -- the opportunity he has given them. Now that he has destroyed conventional Republicanism and what was left of principled conservatism, the playing field is empty. For the first time in living memory, we liberals have no ideological adversary worthy of the name. So it is crucial that we look beyond Trump. The only adversary left is ourselves. And we have mastered the art of self-sabotage. At a time when we liberals need to speak in a way that convinces people from very different walks of life, in every part of the country, that they share a common destiny and need to stand together, our rhetoric encourages self-righteous narcissism. At a moment when political consciousness and strategizing need to be developed, we are expending our energies on symbolic drama over identity. At a time when it is crucial to direct our efforts into seizing institutional power by winning elections, we dissipate them in expressive movements indifferent to the effects they may have on the voting public. In an age when we need to educate young people to think of themselves as citizens with duties toward each other, we encourage them instead to descend into the rabbit hole of the self. The frustrating truth is that we have no political vision to offer the nation, and we are thinking and speaking and acting in ways guaranteed to prevent one from emerging.
Mark Lilla (The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics)
My concern with democracy is highly specific. It begins in observing the remarkable fact that, while democracy means a government accountable to the electorate, our rulers now make us accountable to them. Most Western governments hate me smoking, or eating the wrong kind of food, or hunting foxes, or drinking too much, and these are merely the surface disapprovals, the ones that provoke legislation or public campaigns. We also borrow too much money for our personal pleasures, and many of us are very bad parents. Ministers of state have been known to instruct us in elementary matters, such as the importance of reading stories to our children. Again, many of us have unsound views about people of other races, cultures, or religions, and the distribution of our friends does not always correspond, as governments think that it ought, to the cultural diversity of our society. We must face up to the grim fact that the rulers we elect are losing patience with us. No philosopher can contemplate this interesting situation without beginning to reflect on what it can mean. The gap between political realities and their public face is so great that the term “paradox” tends to crop up from sentence to sentence. Our rulers are theoretically “our” representatives, but they are busy turning us into the instruments of the projects they keep dreaming up. The business of governments, one might think, is to supply the framework of law within which we may pursue happiness on our own account. Instead, we are constantly being summoned to reform ourselves. Debt, intemperance, and incompetence in rearing our children are no doubt regrettable, but they are vices, and left alone, they will soon lead to the pain that corrects. Life is a better teacher of virtue than politicians, and most sensible governments in the past left moral faults to the churches. But democratic citizenship in the twenty-first century means receiving a stream of improving “messages” from politicians. Some may forgive these intrusions because they are so well intentioned. Who would defend prejudice, debt, or excessive drinking? The point, however, is that our rulers have no business telling us how to live. They are tiresome enough in their exercise of authority—they are intolerable when they mount the pulpit. Nor should we be in any doubt that nationalizing the moral life is the first step towards totalitarianism. We might perhaps be more tolerant of rulers turning preachers if they were moral giants. But what citizen looks at the government today thinking how wise and virtuous it is? Public respect for politicians has long been declining, even as the population at large has been seduced into demanding political solutions to social problems. To demand help from officials we rather despise argues for a notable lack of logic in the demos. The statesmen of eras past have been replaced by a set of barely competent social workers eager to take over the risks of our everyday life. The electorates of earlier times would have responded to politicians seeking to bribe us with such promises with derision. Today, the demos votes for them.
Kenneth Minogue (The Servile Mind: How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life (Encounter Broadsides))
A mood of constructive criticism being upon me, I propose forthwith that the method of choosing legislators now prevailing in the United States be abandoned and that the method used in choosing juries be substituted. That is to say, I propose that the men who make our laws be chosen by chance and against their will, instead of by fraud and against the will of all the rest of us, as now... ...that the names of all the men eligible in each assembly district be put into a hat (or, if no hat can be found that is large enough, into a bathtub), and that a blind moron, preferably of tender years, be delegated to draw out one... The advantages that this system would offer are so vast and obvious that I hesitate to venture into the banality of rehearsing them. It would in the first place, save the commonwealth the present excessive cost of elections, and make political campaigns unnecessary. It would in the second place, get rid of all the heart-burnings that now flow out of every contest at the polls, and block the reprisals and charges of fraud that now issue from the heart-burnings. It would, in the third place, fill all the State Legislatures with men of a peculiar and unprecedented cast of mind – men actually convinced that public service is a public burden, and not merely a private snap. And it would, in the fourth and most important place, completely dispose of the present degrading knee-bending and trading in votes, for nine-tenths of the legislators, having got into office unwillingly, would be eager only to finish their duties and go home, and even those who acquired a taste for the life would be unable to increase the probability, even by one chance in a million, of their reelection. The disadvantages of the plan are very few, and most of them, I believe, yield readily to analysis. Do I hear argument that a miscellaneous gang of tin-roofers, delicatessen dealers and retired bookkeepers, chosen by hazard, would lack the vast knowledge of public affairs needed by makers of laws? Then I can only answer (a) that no such knowledge is actually necessary, and (b) that few, if any, of the existing legislators possess it... Would that be a disservice to the state? Certainly not. On the contrary, it would be a service of the first magnitude, for the worst curse of democracy, as we suffer under it today, is that it makes public office a monopoly of a palpably inferior and ignoble group of men. They have to abase themselves to get it, and they have to keep on abasing themselves in order to hold it. The fact reflects in their general character, which is obviously low. They are men congenitally capable of cringing and dishonorable acts, else they would not have got into public life at all. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule among them, but how many? What I contend is simply that the number of such exceptions is bound to be smaller in the class of professional job-seekers than it is in any other class, or in the population in general. What I contend, second, is that choosing legislators from that populations, by chance, would reduce immensely the proportion of such slimy men in the halls of legislation, and that the effects would be instantly visible in a great improvement in the justice and reasonableness of the laws.
H.L. Mencken (A Mencken Chrestomathy)