In our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible.
He had the misleading air of openhearted simplicity that people have come to demand of their politicians.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
To be able to destroy with good conscience, to be able to behave badly and call your bad behavior “righteous indignation” — this is the height of psychological luxury, the most delicious of moral treats.
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
When someone behaves like a beast, he says, “After all, one is only human.” But when he is treated like a beast, he says, “After all, one is human.”
The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
I went to the store the other day to buy a bolt for our front door, for, as I told the storekeeper, the governor was coming here. “Aye,” said he, “and the legislature too.” “Then I will take two bolts,” said I.
Twaddle, rubbish, and gossip is what people want, not action. . . . The secret of life is to chatter freely about all one wishes to do and how one is always being prevented — and then do nothing.
If the truth doesn’t save us, what does that say about us?
The ingenuities we practice in order to appear admirable to ourselves would suffice to invent the telephone twice over on a rainy summer morning.
He who cannot dance claims the floor is uneven.
In a virtuous community, men of sense and of principle will always be placed at the head of affairs. In a declining state of public morals, men will be so blinded to their true interests as to put the incapable and unworthy at the helm. It is therefore vain to complain of the follies or crimes of a government. We must lay our hands on our own hearts and say, “Here is the sin that makes the public sin.”
Politics is how you live your life, not whom you vote for.
Let us not paralyze our capacity for good by brooding over man’s capacity for evil.
I realize that if I wait until I am no longer afraid to act, write, speak, be, I’ll be sending messages on a ouija board, cryptic complaints from the other side.
So many objections may be made to everything, that nothing can overcome them but the necessity of doing something.
So act that your principle of action might safely be made a law for the whole world.
I attribute my success to this: I never gave or took an excuse.
Most of our platitudes notwithstanding, self-deception remains the most difficult deception. The tricks that work on others count for nothing in that very well-lit back alley where one keeps assignations with oneself.
I lie to myself all the time. But I never believe me.