Political Quotes That Are Refreshingly Real

, Staff Writer
Updated July 29, 2021
George Washington Monument as Political Quotes
    George Washington Monument as Political Quotes
    Federica Grassi / Moment / Getty Images
    Used under Getty Images license

There are a lot of things to say about politics, so it's not surprising that there are a lot of political quotes from a wide variety of people. If you're tired of wading through tons of quotes about politics looking for any that speak to you, then you've come to the right place. Explore a selection of political sayings that tell it like it is.

Funny Political Quotes

Politics is no laughing matter, but a lot of the top political quotes that have been uttered over the centuries are quite funny. Some of these funny quotes are from comedians and other entertainers, while others are from real-world political leaders.

  • "In America, anyone can become president. That's the problem." - George Carlin
  • "You can lead a man to Congress, but you can't make him think." - Milton Berle
  • "The presidency has a funny way of making a person feel the need to pray." - Barack Obama
  • "I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U.S. Congress." - Ronald Reagan
  • "It's useless to hold a person to anything he says while he's in love, drunk, or running for office." - Shirley MacLaine
  • "Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." - P. J. O'Rourke
  • "People say satire is dead. It's not dead; it's alive and living in the White House." - Robin Williams
  • "Politics is like football; if you see daylight, go through the hole." - John F. Kennedy
  • "Reader, suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself." - Mark Twain
  • "Presidency: The greased pig in the field game of American politics." - Ambrose Bierce
  • "You can always count on Americans to do the right thing — after they've tried everything else." - Winston Churchill
  • "In politics stupidity is not a handicap." - Napoleon Bonaparte
  • "George Washington is the only president who didn't blame the previous administration for his troubles." - Unknown

Quotes About Politics, Government and Leadership

Moving on to the more serious side of politics, review a selection of interesting and insightful quotes about the world of government and politics, both of which represent key aspects of societal leadership.

  • "Liberty is not a means to a higher political end. It is itself the highest political end." - John Acton
  • "The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries." - James Madison
  • "Those who would treat politics and morality apart will never understand the one or the other." - John Morley
  • "A leader has to lead, or otherwise he has no business in politics." - Harry S. Truman
  • "There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full." - Henry Kissinger
  • "Russian communism is the illegitimate child of Karl Marx and Catherine the Great." - Clement Attlee
  • "We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle." - Winston Churchill
  • "A house divided against itself cannot stand." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "In politics ... never retreat, never retract ... never admit a mistake." - Napoleon Bonaparte
  • "Man is by nature a political animal." - Aristotle
Man voting Political Quotes Example
    Man voting Political Quotes Example
    Anton_Sokolov / iStock / Getty Images Plus
    Used under Getty Images license

Quotes on Political Participation and Change

A lot of political discourse focuses on the importance of participating in the political process if you want to see change. The quotes below are words of wisdom that relate to the topics of political participation and governmental change, both as individual topics and in terms of where they overlap.

  • "Vote! Voting's the best revenge." - Barack Obama
  • "The biggest party in America is neither Democrats nor Republicans. It’s the party of non-voters — a group that outnumbers the other two."- Robert Reich
  • "The punishment which the wise suffer who refuse to take part in the government is to live under the government of worse men." - Plato
  • "So democracy has never been for the faint of heart. And you’ve got to get involved and get engaged." - Barack Obama
  • "The most important political office is that of the private citizen." - Louis Dembitz Brandeis
  • "Vote for the man who promises least; he'll be the least disappointing." - Bernard Baruch
  • "Idealism is fine, but as it approaches reality, the costs become prohibitive." - William F. Buckley, Jr.
  • "A President cannot always be popular." - Harry S. Truman
  • "Finality is not the language of politics. - Benjamin Disraeli
  • "A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both." - Dwight Eisenhower
  • "Moral outrage is the most powerful motivating force in politics." - Morton C. Blackwell
  • "To refuse political equality is to rob the ostracized of all self-respect." - Elizabeth Cady Stanton
  • "It is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters who choose to vote, that constitute political power." - Abraham Lincoln
  • "One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors." - Plato

Dirty/Bad Politics Quotes

Politics isn't all fun and games, or even change and participation. There's an ugly side to the business of politics. Discover some quotes about the dark side of political life and the political process, which is often referred to as bad politics or dirty politics.

  • "Celebrity distorts democracy by giving the rich, beautiful, and famous more authority than they deserve." - Maureen Dowd
  • "There are checks and balances in government. The checks go to candidates and the balance to the people." - Unknown
  • "I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. 'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!'" - Bill Hicks
  • "Campaign promises are by long democratic tradition the least binding form of human commitment." - Antonin Scalia
  • "Have you ever seen a candidate talking to a rich person on television?" - Art Buchwald
  • "The collusion of big business, big labor, and big government threaten the spirit of small business that makes America great. Success should stem from entrepreneurial creativity, not political connectivity." - Foster Friess
  • "To err is human; to blame it on the other party is politics." - Unknown
  • "I think perhaps with time, instead of there being a politicization of humanitarian aid, there will be a humanization of politics." - Audrey Hepburn
  • "That mysterious independent variable of political calculation, Public Opinion." - Thomas Henry Huxley
  • "No man will ever carry out of the Presidency the reputation which carried him into it." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "All political parties die at last of swallowing their own lies." - John Arbuthnot
  • "Whenever a man has cast a longing eye on offices, a rottenness begins in his conduct." - Thomas Jefferson
  • "We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office." - Aesop

Take a Deeper Dive Into Government and Politics

Now that you've reviewed some quotes about government, maybe you're feeling inspired to get involved with the political process. Start by learning more about the different types of government around the world. Then, develop a strong sense of digital literacy. That will help you combat misinformation and fake news that keeps people from being well-informed about important political issues of the day. If you just want more quotes, check out some noteworthy words from former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson.