Bhaskar Parichha 

We, in India, are in the throes of a political churning all through. No one knows who the real victor and who the vanquished will be. But, politics – and obviously elections- in India are as multi-hued as they are rancid.

Adore it or loathe it, politics has its own share of quotable quotes. From the funniest quotes to the dumbest one, here is an uplifting list of famous lines said by equally famous people.

Niccolo Machiavelli has a very pertinent line for present day politics. He said, ‘Politics have no relation to morals.’ Charles de Gaulle’s take on politicians is so sensible! ‘In order to become the master, the politician poses as the servant.’ Two other famous figures- George Bernard Shaw and George Orwell- too were scornful of politicians. Shaw said, ‘He knows nothing and thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.’

Orwell remarked, ‘In our age, there is no such thing as keeping out of politics. All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.’

American comedian George Carlin had a terse remark on that country’s politicians:  ‘Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out.’

American Comedian George Carlin

There is so much coaxing and wheedling to take part in elections. Plato, the great Greek philosopher, observed, ‘one of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.’ Elections in India have become so expensive that ordinary mortals like you and me can’t think of fighting them even in our dreams. Will Rogers said, ‘Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated. ‘Gore Vidal has a different take on this issue: ‘Apparently, a democracy is a place where numerous elections are held at great cost without issues and with interchangeable candidates.’

US President Calvin Coolidge once said, ‘Politics is not an end, but a means. It is not a product, but a process. It is the art of government. Like other values it has its counterfeits. So much emphasis has been placed upon the false that the significance of the true has been obscured and politics has come to convey the meaning of crafty and cunning selfishness, instead of candid and sincere service.’

US President Calvin Coolidge

What New York City writer Christian Nestell Bovee who relished the intimate friendship of Washington Irving, Longfellow, Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes believed politics is interesting: ‘Political aspirants make too much of the people before election, and, if successful, too much of themselves after it. They use the people when they want to rise, as we treat a spirited horse when we want to mount him; – for a time we pat the animal upon the neck, and speak to him softly; but once in the saddle, then come the whip and spur.’

Finding the right candidate in elections is next to impossible. Kin Hubbard too had the same dilemma when he said, ‘We would all like to vote for the best man but he is never a candidate.’ Edmund Burke’s caution on gentlemen despising politics is worth the while. Burke said, ‘When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.’NOTA (None of the above) has been added to the preference for voters in the EVMs these elections. WC Fields once said, ‘Hell, I never vote for anybody, I always vote against.’

Why there is widespread abhorrence in politics is easy to fathom. According to Cal Thomas, ‘One of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politician’s aim. Election and power are.’ Lord Acton’s famous quote hardly needs mention. He said, ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.’   It was Henry A. Kissinger who rather pithily observed: ‘Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.’ Groucho Marx said, ‘Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.’

What essentially should a political party have? According to Dwight D. Eisenhower, ‘if a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.’

Winston Churchill’s famous take is worth remembering today ever than before: ‘Politics are almost as exciting as war, and quite as dangerous … In war, you can only be killed once. But in politics many times. ‘American Novelist Edgar Watson Howe thought, ‘If you have sense enough to realize why flies gather around a restaurant, you should be able to appreciate why men run for office.’

According to the former US president Barack Obama, ‘We’ve come to be consumed by a 24-hour, slash-and-burn, negative ad, bickering, small-minded politics that doesn’t move us forward. Sometimes one side is up and the other side is down. But there’s no sense that they are coming together in a common-sense, practical, non-ideological way to solve the problems that we face.’

And, finally, Columnist and Editor Doug Larson has this warning against the political class:   ‘Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city, it might be better to change the locks.’

(The author is a Bhubaneswar based senior journalist and columnist. Views are personal)