Political parties

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The cadres of our Party and state are ordinary workers and not overlords sitting on the backs of the people. By taking part in collective productive labour, the cadres maintain extensive, constant and close ties with the working people. ~ Mao Zedong

Political parties are political organizations that typically seek to influence, or entirely control, government policy, usually by nominating candidates with aligned political views and trying to seat them in political office. Parties participate in electoral campaigns and educational outreach or protest actions. Parties often espouse an ideology or vision, expressed in a party program, bolstered by a written platform with specific goals, forming a coalition among disparate interests.


  • It's a damned good thing to remember in politics to stick to your party and never attempt to buy the favor of your enemies at the expense of your friends.
  • Anyone can rat, but it takes a certain amount of ingenuity to re-rat.
    • Winston Churchill, remark in 1923 after rejoining the Conservatives, having left them earlier to join the Liberals; reported in Kay Halle, Irrepressible Churchill (1966), p. 52–53. Other sources say this remark was made in 1924.
  • Party honesty is party expediency.
  • It is necessary to have party organization if we are to have effective and efficient government. The only difference between a mob and a trained army is organization, and the only difference between a disorganized country and one that has the advantage of a wise and sound government is fundamentally a question of organization.
    • Calvin Coolidge, address to women, reported in Eward Elwell Whiting, Calvin Coolidge (1924), p. 154.
  • The two great political parties of the nation have existed for the purpose, each in accordance with its own principles, of undertaking to serve the interests of the whole nation. Their members of the Congress are chosen with that great end in view.
    • Calvin Coolidge, Memorial Day address, Northampton, Massachusetts (May 30, 1923); republished by Coolidge in The Price of Freedom (1925), p. 348.
  • You cannot choose between party government and Parliamentary government. I say you can have no Parliamentary government if you have no party government; and therefore when gentlemen denounce party government, they strike at the scheme of government which, in my opinion, has made this country great, and which, I hope, will keep it great.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, speech in the House of Commons (August 30, 1848), in T. E. Kebbel, ed., Selected Speeches of the Late Right Honourable the Earl of Beaconsfield (1882), vol. 2, p. 455. The editor notes, p. 415, "this particular speech enjoys a special and superlative distinction above all its fellows: as I am authorised to state that, in Mr. Disraeli's own opinion, it made him leader of the Conservative Party in the House of Commons".
  • There can be but two great political parties in this country.
    • Stephen A. Douglas, speech delivered at Bloomington, Illinois (July 16, 1858), in John G. Nicolay and John Hay, eds., Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, new and enl. ed. (1905), vol. 3, p. 66.
  • The two parties which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The Conservative," lecture delivered at the Masonic Temple, Boston, Massachusetts (December 9, 1841), Nature, Addresses and Lectures (vol. 3 of The Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1906), p. 273.
  • I always voted at my party's call,
    And I never thought of thinking for myself at all.
    • W. S. Gilbert, H. M. S. Pinafore, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922)
  • The President of the United States of necessity owes his election to office to the suffrage and zealous labors of a political party, the members of which cherish with ardor and regard as of essential importance the principles of their party organization; but he should strive to be always mindful of the fact that he serves his party best who serves the country best.
    • Rutherford B. Hayes, inaugural address (March 5, 1877), in Inaugural Addresses of the Presidents of the United States from George Washington, 1789, to Richard Milhous Nixon, 1973 (1974), p. 138; House Doc. 93–208.
  • A political party—it’s like a sausage grinder; it grinds all the heads up together into one mash, and then it turns them out, link by link, into fatheads and meatheads!
  • If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.
  • Of course, both major parties today seek to serve the national interest. They would do so in order to obtain the broadest base of support, if for no nobler reason. But when party and officeholder differ as to how the national interest is to be served, we must place first the responsibility we owe not to our party or even to our constituents but to our individual consciences.
  • Sometimes party loyalty asks too much.
    • John F. Kennedy, in Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House (1979), p. 26.
  • Potential demagogues exist in all democracies, and occasionally, one or more of them strike a public chord. But in some democracies, political leaders heed the warning signs and take steps to ensure that authoritarians remain on the fringes, far from the centers of power. When faced with the rise of extremists or demagogues, they make a concerted effort to isolate and defeat them. Although mass responses to extremist appeals matter, what matters more is whether political elites, and especially parties, serve as filters. Put simply, political parties are democracy’s gatekeepers.
    • Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt (2018) How Democracies Die. New York: Crown.
  • I learned by close study that it made no difference what fair promises a political party, out of power might make to the people in order to secure their confidence, when once securely established in control of the affairs of society that they were after all but human with all the human attributes of the politician. Among these are: First, to remain in power at all hazards; if not individually, then those holding essentially the same views as the administration must be kept in control. Second, in order to keep in power, it is necessary to build up a powerful machine; one strong enough to crush all opposition and silence all vigorous murmurs of discontent, or the party machine might be smashed and the party thereby lose control. When I came to realize the faults, failings, shortcomings, aspirations and ambitions of fallible man, I concluded that it would not be the safest nor best policy for society, as a whole, to entrust the management of all its affairs, with all their manifold deviations and ramifications in the hands of finite man, to be managed by the party which happened to come into power, and therefore was the majority party, nor did it ten, nor does it now make one particle of difference to me what a party, out of power may promise; it does not tend to allay my fears of a party, when entrenched and securely seated in power might do to crush opposition, and silence the voice of the minority, and thus retard the onward step of progress.
  • My mind is appalled at the thought of a political party having control of all the details that go to make up the sum total of our lives. Think of it for an instant, that the party in power shall have all authority to dictate the kind of books that shall be used in our schools and universities, government officials editing, printing, and circulating our literature, histories, magazines and press, to say nothing of the thousand and one activities of life that a people engage in, in a civilized society.
  • Party-spirit, which at best is but the madness of many, for the gain of a few.
  • We're the party that wants to see an America in which people can still get rich.
    • Ronald Reagan, remarks at a Republican congressional dinner saluting him, Washington, D.C. (May 4, 1982), in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, 1982, p. 558.
  • I have no Politics. I am for the Party that is out of Power, no matter which one it is. But I will give you my word that, in case of my appointment, I will not be a Republican; I will do my best to pull with you, and not embarrass you. In fact, my views on European affairs are so in accord with You, Mr. President, that I might almost be suspected of being a Democrat.
    • Will Rogers, letter to President Warren Harding offering to replace the American ambassador to the Court of St. James's in England, republished by Rogers in The Illiterate Digest (1924), p. 172.
  • I don't care to be involved in the crash-landing unless I can be in on the take-off.
    • Harold Stassen, comment on bipartisanship, attributed to him by Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg. "Once again, it was the procedure of a hurried call to senators and a last-minute meeting to inform them of an impending development or of the execution of a policy, and not to consult on the formation of policy. Vandenberg then and thereafter insisted that real bipartisanship meant consultation in advance and not a perfunctory reading to legislators of an impending press announcement or policy statement…. Stassen's comment, the Senator used to say, was such a good statement of the Republican case that he wished it were his"; in Arthur H. Vandenberg, Jr., ed., The Private Papers of Senator Vandenberg (1952), p. 230.
  • I have already intimated to you the danger of parties in the state, with particular reference to the founding of them on geographical discriminations. Let me now take a more comprehensive view, and warn you in the most solemn manner against the baneful effects of the spirit of party, generally.
  • The cadres of our Party and state are ordinary workers and not overlords sitting on the backs of the people. By taking part in collective productive labour, the cadres maintain extensive, constant and close ties with the working people. This is a major measure of fundamental importance for a socialist system; it helps to overcome bureaucracy and to prevent revisionism and dogmatism.
  • Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the party.
    • Author unknown. Sentence devised to test the speed of the first typewriter, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, fall of 1867, during "an exciting political campaign"; reported in Charles E. Weller, The Early History of the Typewriter (1918), p. 21. Other sources credit Weller as author of the famous sentence, but he does not claim the credit in his book. The sentence is still in use, though it is often written as "their" party.
  • Only an unabashed acceptance of the similarities between the Nazi and Soviet systems permits an understanding of their differences. Both ideologies opposed liberalism and democracy. In both political systems, the significance of the word party was inverted: rather than being a group among others competing for power according to accepted rules, it became the group that determined the rules. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were both one-party states. In both the Nazi and Soviet polities the party played a leading role in matters of ideology and social discipline. Its political logic demanded exclusion of outsiders, and its economic elite believed that certain groups were superfluous or harmful. In both administrations, economic planners assumed that more people existed in the countryside than was really necessary. Stalinist collectivization would remove superfluous peasants from the countryside and send them to the cities or the Gulag to work. If they starved, that was of little consequence. Hitlerian colonization projected the starvation and deportation of tens of millions of people.

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