Words, Advertising, and Politicians


I believe in the power of the perfect word at the perfect time.  And I also believe as  George Will tells us that   “A politician’s words reveal less about what he thinks about his subject than what he thinks about his audience.” It is evident to me from their patronizing choice of words and facts that our current politicians have little respect for the thinking ability of those who elect them.    I was interested in how writers  have depicted politicians and their words through history.

I like quotations  because I  often find that others have used words more perfectly and succinctly than I ever will  What follows is a compendium of quotes about words and politics.   As you look through them you will find that politics have not changed much through history.

“One ought to recognize that the present political chaos is connected with the decay of language, and that one can probably bring about some improvement by starting at the verbal end. If you simplify your English, you are freed from the worst follies of orthodoxy. You cannot speak any of the necessary dialects, and when you make a stupid remark, its stupidity will be obvious, even to yourself. Political language – and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists – is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time, one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase – some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse – into the dustbin where it belongs.”…George Orwell

“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.”…H.L. Mencken

“The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal – that you can gather votes like box tops – is… the ultimate indignity to the democratic process.”…Adlai Stevenson,

“If a politician murders his mother, the first response of the press or of his opponents will likely be not that it was a terrible thing to do, but rather that in a statement made six years before he had gone on record as being opposed to matricide.”…Meg Greenfield

“Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.”…Charles De Gaulle

“If we go one-tenth  of what was promised to us in these acceptance speeches there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.”…Will Rogers

“In the good old days, an honest politician was one who lied only when he had to. But now lies are becoming the accepted language of government at the highest levels, the theory being that sooner or later the people of the country will become so confused and disillusioned that they will just mind their own business, and leave governing to well-placed liars.”…Richard Reeves

“The most successful politician is he who says what the people are thinking most often in the loudest voice.”…Theodore Roosevelt

“A politician is a statesman who approaches every question with an open mouth.”…Adlai E. Stevenson

“A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.”…Michael Kinsley

“The one word that no politician will ever speak, is ‘enough.’ Enough.”…Carl Hiaasen

The politicians were talking themselves red, white and blue in the face. ….Clare Booth Luce

And my two favorites along with the Orwell quote at the beginning which seem to sum up the problem are:

“Politics will eventually be replaced by imagery. The politician will be only too happy to abdicate in favor of his image, because the image will be much more powerful than he could ever be.”…Marshall McLuhan

“Every two years the American politics industry fills the airwaves with the most virulent, scurrilous, wall-to-wall character assassination of nearly every political practitioner in the country – and then declares itself puzzled that America has lost trust in its politicians.”…Charles Krauthammer

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About safrisri

I have been a teacher since 1971 and have taught at all educational levels from pre-school to college. My college degree is general science which I arrived at after 5 years and 5 different majors. A degree as it turns out, almost as valuable and in demand as one in Neo-Bulgarian Mythology. I have been around education for around 40 years and can remember when teaching was a pleasant, happy and creative job and our schools were the same. My writings will reflect on my past mistakes and successes and what my students have taught me about education.
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