Political parties

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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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There is no Democratic or Republican way of cleaning the streets.
    • Attributed to Fiorello LaGuardia, mayor of New York City, by Murray W. Stand in Charles Garrett, The La Guardia Years, Machine and Reform Politics in New York City (1961), p. 274.
  • 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 been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends…. That if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them.
    • Adlai Stevenson, governor of Illinois, campaign remark, Fresno, California (September 10, 1952), in John Bartlow Martin, Adlai Stevenson of Illinois (1976), p. 673–74. Martin called this remark a favorite of Stevenson's, but it is not original with him. It was attributed to Senator Chauncey Depew, but in reverse, in John F. Parker's "If Elected, I Promise…," Stories and Gems of Wisdom by and About Politicians (1969), p. 41: "If you will refrain from telling any lies about the Republican party, I'll promise not to tell the truth about the Democrats." Depew was a senator 1899–1911.
  • 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.

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