Yesterday Pennsylvania held primary elections. I take voting seriously! I am also curious. So I decided to ask Google and Alexa what people have said about politics. I found myself on a website that offered a section with literally hundreds of politically-themed quotes from the past!
Here is a limited, random, somewhat light-hearted sampling covering a span of outsiders, insiders, philosophers, revered icons, etc. They are in no particular order. I wonder what thoughts they trigger in you.
“I always voted at my party’s call, and I never thought of thinking for myself at all. “William Gilbert
“I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.” Will Rogers
“A half-truth is the most cowardly of lies.”Mark Twain
“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” Ernest Benn
“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} Joseph Stalin
“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” A. J. Liebling
“he whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” H. L. Mencken
“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future” John F. Kennedy
Pope Francis offers his share of quotes
This past weekend the always quotable Pope offered some substantive quotes on politics from the Christian perspective. He draws especially on his first major writing as Pope, “The Joy of the Gospel”.
Pope Francis believes “the genuine meaning of politics, especially for Christians… is encounter, reflection, action.”
- For Christians, … the Gospel demands that we love our enemies (cf. Mt 5:44), we cannot rest content with superficial and formal dialogue, along the lines of the often hostile negotiations between political parties. Instead, we are called to see political encounters as fraternal encounters, especially with people who disagree with us.
- That means regarding our dialogue partner as a true brother or sister, a beloved son or daughter of God.
- The art of encounter, begins with changing the way we look at others, with showing them unconditional acceptance and respect.
- Without such a change of heart, politics often risks turning into a violent confrontation, where people try to impose their own ideas and pursue particular interests over the common good, contrary to the principle that “unity prevails over conflict” (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 226-230).
- As Christians, we recognize that politics is practiced not only through encounter, but also through shared reflection in the pursuit of this general good, not simply through the clash of differing and often opposed interests. In a word, “the whole is greater than the part” (cf. ibid., 234-237).
- Our own compass for advancing this common project is the Gospel, which brings to the world a profoundly positive vision of humanity as loved by God.
- Finally, politics is also action.
- We must not be satisfied to be merely a forum for discussion and exchange, but also directing you to concrete forms of commitment.
- As Christians, we must always be realistic, confronting our ideas with hard reality, lest we build on sands that sooner or later end up shifting. Let us not forget that “realities are more important than ideas” (cf. ibid., 231-233).
What can we and political leaders learn from Pope Francis?
Click below for an early version of this Vincentian Mindwalk