Famous Quotes That Reveal the True Face of Politics

country flags in front of a building

wenbin / Getty Images

Here are 20 famous people who have made especially astute, witty, or informative statements about politics. Some have been in a position of power, others have had a bird's eye view of the drama that goes on within hallowed halls. Their opinions carry a wealth of wisdom.

Dalton Camp

Canadian politician Dalton Camp was a supporter of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada and was one of the foremost voices of Red Toryism. Camp made this comment to mean that politics often concentrates on unimportant things instead of paying attention to bigger issues. 

"Politics is made up largely of irrelevancies."

Will Durant

American philosopher and historian Will Durant was well known for The History of Civilization. His words basically sum up what governments actually do. 

"The political machine triumphs because it is united minority acting against a divided majority."

Nikita Khrushchev

Nikita Khrushchev was a Russian politician and served as the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He made this comment on 22 August 1963 to Chicago Tribune in the context of the construction of a bridge in Belgrade, to emphasize that a politician's word is completely redundant. 

"Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river."

Texas Guinan

Texas Guinan was an American actress. Her clever use of irony express the shrewdness of a politician who can use anyone for the benefit of one's country.

"A politician is a fellow who will lay down your life for his country."

Napoleon Bonaparte

One of the greatest military leaders of the world, Napoleon Bonaparte was a master strategist and a consummate politician. Bonaparte's words carry a wealth of wisdom when he says that irrationality is a welcome quality in politics. 

   "In politics, an absurdity is not a handicap."

Saul Bellow

Saul Bellow was a Canadian-born American writer, who won the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes. His words belie a sense of disdain for politicians who seem like amateurs.

"Take our politicians: they're a bunch of yo-yos. The presidency is now a cross between a popularity contest and a high school debate, with an encyclopedia of clichés the first prize."

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon was an English philosopher and his quote here means that politicians find it tough to remain absolutely true to their calling, just like it is difficult to be completely moral.

"It is as hard and severe a thing to be a true politician as to be truly moral."

Albert Einstein

Famous scientist Albert Einstein urges citizens to be involved in politics. But he also concedes that politics is more complex than science. 

"Politics is more difficult than physics."

Mao Tse-Tung

Mao Tse-Tung was the founder of the People’s Republic of China. He explains that politics and war are almost the same except that in the former there isn't actual bloodshed involved. 

"Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed."

Otto Von Bismarck

These words by conservative Prussian Otto Von Bismarck mean that politics can make anything happen. 

"Politics is the art of the possible."

Henry David Thoreau

American writer Henry David Thoreau opines that no country can be completely free and unshackled unless it accepts that the individual is supreme. 

"There will never be a really free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power."

William Shakespeare

English playwright William Shakespeare tells us that a politician would always try to avoid God, as the politician is not truthful.

A politician… one that would circumvent God.

Tom Wolfe

American author and journalist Tom Wolfe expresses that there are no true liberals in this world. 

"A liberal is a conservative who has been arrested."

Marianne Thieme

Dutch politician Marianne Thieme says that politicians have given more importance to money rather than to nature. She said this to the "International Press Association" members during a speech in The Hague.

"Politicians and corporations have always placed economic interests above moral interests. This is now hurting the entire planet."


Greek philosopher, and the father of politics, Aristotle reveals the sad truth about politicians who have no free time as they are always aiming for something. 

"Politicians also have no leisure, because they are always aiming at something beyond political life itself, power and glory, or happiness."

Charles de Gaulle

French President Charles de Gaulle talked about how politicians pretend to serve the people, but their ulterior motive is to always rule them.

"In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant."

John Fitzgerald Kennedy

US President JFK reveals the irony of life. His own illustrious career, as a politician and a president, is testimonial to this.

"Mothers all want their sons to grow up to be president but they don't want them to become politicians in the process."

Abraham Lincoln

American President Abraham Lincoln was a man of democratic views. He believed in the power of the people, in the truest sense. This quote was made during his speech at the first Republican State Convention of Illinois on May 29, 1856.

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet."

H. L. Mencken

Liberal thinker American journalist H. L. Mencken reveals the dirt beneath the rock. He expresses that politics is mostly about parties trying to bring each other down. 

"Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule -- and both commonly succeed, and are right."

Eugene McCarthy 

American Senator Eugene McCarthy says it with a straight face. He does not mince words. Through this quote, he reveals that politics takes a lot of shrewdness to understand, not to mention bravado to think that it is important enough to be involved in. 

"Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be smart enough to understand the game, and dumb enough to think it's important."