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Quotations about Government


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The way people in democracies think of the government as something different from themselves is a real handicap. And, of course, sometimes the government confirms their opinion. ~Lewis Mumford, in Anne Chisholm, Philosophers of the Earth: Conversations with Ecologists, 1972


It might be more worthwhile if we stopped wringing our hands and started ringing our congressmen. ~Author Unknown


The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. ~Winston Churchill


If people behaved like governments, you'd call the cops. ~Kelvin Throop


We are imperfect. We cannot expect perfect government. ~William Howard Taft


Democracy gives every man the right to be his own oppressor. ~James Russell Lowell


Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few. ~George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, "Maxims: Education," 1905


The government, which was designed for the people, has got into the hands of the bosses and their employers, the special interests. An invisible empire has been set up above the forms of democracy. ~Woodrow Wilson


In the absence of justice, what is sovereignty but organized robbery? ~St. Augustine


Democracy: The state of affairs in which you consent to having your pocket picked, and elect the best man to do it. ~Benjamin Lichtenberg


Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. ~P.J. O'Rourke


If all the economists were laid end to end, they'd never reach a conclusion. ~George Bernard Shaw


No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent. ~Abraham Lincoln


Under capitalism man exploits man; under socialism the reverse is true. ~Polish Proverb


The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them. ~Karl Marx


Governments should not possess instruments of coercion and violence denied to their citizens. ~Edgar A. Suter


Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. ~Louis Brandeis


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


Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except all those others that have been tried from time to time. ~Winston Churchill


Democracy is a government where you can say what you think even if you don't think. ~Author Unknown


The cure for capitalism's failing would require that a government would have to rise above the interests of one class alone. ~Robert L. Heilbroner


Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb. ~Author unknown, commonly misattributed to Benjamin Franklin (Thanks, Art)


Majority rule only works if you're also considering individual rights. Because you can't have five wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper. ~Attributed to Larry Flynt


Christmas is the time when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it. Deficits are when adults tell government what they want and their kids pay for it. ~Richard Lamm


Ancient Rome declined because it had a Senate, now what's going to happen to us with both a House and a Senate? ~Will Rogers


Ohio claims they are due a president as they haven't had one since Taft. Look at the United States, they have not had one since Lincoln. ~Will Rogers


If you want to understand your government, don't begin by reading the Constitution. (It conveys precious little of the flavor of today's statecraft.) Instead, read selected portions of the Washington telephone directory containing listings for all the organizations with titles beginning with the word National. ~George Will


This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer. ~Will Rogers


Congress is so strange. A man gets up to speak and says nothing. Nobody listens and then everybody disagrees. ~Boris Marshalov


Our political institutions work remarkably well. They are designed to clang against each other. The noise is democracy at work. ~Michael Novak


I'm tired of hearing it said that democracy doesn't work. Of course it doesn't work. We are supposed to work it. ~Alexander Woollcott


The worst thing in this world, next to anarchy, is government. ~Henry Ward Beecher, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit, 1887


People come to Washington believing it's the center of power. I know I did. It was only much later that I learned that Washington is a steering wheel that's not connected to the engine. ~Richard Goodwin


Democracy is the only system that persists in asking the powers that be whether they are the powers that ought to be. ~Sydney J. Harris


A civil servant is sometimes like a broken cannon it won't work and you can't fire it. ~George S. Patton


Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt. ~Herbert Hoover, attributed


It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting. ~Tom Stoppard, Jumpers


Talk is cheap except when Congress does it. ~Cullen Hightower


The most important political office is that of the private citizen. ~Louis Brandeis


 
 
People often say that, in a democracy, decisions are made by a majority of the people. Of course, that is not true. Decisions are made by a majority of those who make themselves heard and who vote a very different thing. ~Walter H. Judd


How can one conceive of a one-party system in a country that has over two hundred varieties of cheese? ~Charles de Gaulle, about France


Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds. ~John Perry Barlow


A survey says that American workers work the first three hours every day just to pay their taxes. So that's why we can't get anything done in the morning: We're government workers. ~Jay Leno


In a state-run society the government promises you security. But it's a false promise predicated on the idea that the opposite of security is risk. Nothing could be further from the truth. The opposite of security is insecurity, and the only way to overcome insecurity is to take risks. The gentle government that promises to hold your hand as you cross the street refuses to let go on the other side. ~Theodore Forstmann


Treaties are like roses and young girls they last while they last. ~Charles de Gaulle


The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment. ~Robert M. Hutchins, Great Books, 1954


It is hard to feel individually responsible with respect to the invisible processes of a huge and distant government. ~John Gardner


Washington is a place where politicians don't know which way is up and taxes don't know which way is down. ~Robert Orben


Everybody wants to eat at the government's table, but nobody wants to do the dishes. ~Werner Finck


When government accepts responsibility for people, then people no longer take responsibility for themselves. ~George Pataki


Morphine and state relief are the same. You go dopey, feel better and are worse off. ~Martin H. Fischer


If con is the opposite of pro, is Congress the opposite of progress? ~Author Unknown


Democracy is an abuse of statistics. ~Jorge Luis Borges


The mistakes made by Congress wouldn't be so bad if the next Congress didn't keep trying to correct them. ~Cullen Hightower


The plague of government is senile delinquency. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


Our government has become too responsive to trivial or ephemeral concerns, often at the expense of more important concerns or an erosion of our liberty, and it has made policy priorities more dependent on where TV journalists happen to point their cameras.... As a nation we have lost our sense of tragedy, a recognition that bad things happen to good people. A nation that expects the government to prevent churches from burning, to control the price of bread or gasoline, to secure every job, and to find some villain for every dramatic accident, risks an even larger loss of life and liberty. ~William A. Niskanen, "For a Less Responsive Government," Cato Policy Report, 1996


No nation is fit to sit in judgment upon any other nation. ~Woodrow Wilson


It's every American's duty to support his government, but not necessarily in the style to which it has become accustomed. ~Quoted by Thomas Clifford


Information is the currency of democracy. ~Thomas Jefferson


Democracy is like a raft: It won't sink, but you will always have your feet wet. ~Russell B. Long


It is error alone which needs the support of government. Truth can stand by itself. ~Thomas Jefferson, Notes on Virginia


The government deficit is the difference between the amount of money the government spends and the amount it has the nerve to collect. ~Sam Ewing


Better the occasional faults of a government that lives in a spirit of charity than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt


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


A Conservative government is an organised hypocrisy. ~Benjamin Disraeli, 1845


Let the people think they govern, and they will be governed. ~William Penn, Some Fruits of Solitude, 1693


In the infancy of societies, the chiefs of the state shape its institutions; later the institutions shape the chiefs of state. ~Baron de Montesquieu


The marvel of all history is the patience with which men and women submit to burdens unnecessarily laid upon them by their governments. ~William E. Borah


The happiest thing that can be said about democracy... is that it is one of the few systems that has been willing to risk a long period of confusion and mixed purposes for the sake of giving man a chance to grow up in mind and responsibility. ~H.A. Overstreet


Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice, without constraint. ~Alexander Hamilton


Democracy cannot flourish half rich and half poor, any more than it can flourish half free and half slave. ~Felix G. Rohatyn, New York Times, 3 June 1987


You know why there are so many whitefish in the Yellowstone River? Because the Fish and Game people have never done anything to help them. ~Russell Chatham, Silent Seasons, 1978


Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~Reinhold Niebuhr


The People, though we think of a great entity when we use the word, means nothing more than so many millions of individual men. ~James Bryce


To hear some men talk of the government, you would suppose that Congress was the law of gravitation, and kept the planets in their places. ~Wendell Phillips, Orations, Speeches, Lectures and Letters


For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery. ~Jonathan Swift, The Drapier's Letter


Democracy is an experiment, and the right of the majority to rule is no more inherent than the right of the minority to rule; and unless the majority represents sane, righteous, unselfish public sentiment, it has no inherent right. ~William Allen White (Thanks, Bob)


Many people say that government is necessary because some men cannot be trusted to look after themselves, but anarchists say that government is harmful because no men can be trusted to look after anyone else. ~Nicolas Walter, About Anarchism


Government is an unnecessary evil. Human beings, when accustomed to taking responsibility for their own behavior, can cooperate on a basis of mutual trust and helpfulness. ~Fred Woodworth, The Match!, No.79


If human beings are fundamentally good, no government is necessary; if they are fundamentally bad, any government, being composed of human beings, would be bad also. ~Fred Woodworth, The Match!, No.79


The danger is not that a particular class is unfit to govern. Every class is unfit to govern. ~Lord Acton, letter to Mary Gladstone, 24 April 1881


If Columbus had an advisory committee he would probably still be at the dock. ~Arthur Goldberg


Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. ~John Kenneth Galbraith


Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


To rule is easy, to govern difficult. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Democracy consists of choosing your dictators, after they've told you what you think it is you want to hear. ~Alan Coren


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


Applause, mingled with boos and hisses, is about all that the average voter is able or willing to contribute to public life. ~Elmer Davis


Here is my first principle of foreign policy: good government at home. ~William Ewart Gladstone


Because of our Congressional committee system, our government is closer to a gerontocracy than a democracy. ~Charles Frankel


Fire, water, and government know nothing of mercy. ~Proverb


I never would believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden. ~Richard Rumbold, 1685


Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy, the whores are us. ~P.J. O'Rourke


The Lord's Prayer is 66 words, the Gettysburg Address is 286 words, there are 1,322 words in the Declaration of Independence, but government regulations on the sale of cabbage total 26,911 words. ~National Review


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



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