A Reminder That Elections Matter and Every Vote Does Count

Witty Quotations on Elections, Politicians and Voters — and You

Theodore Roosevelt
Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Unknown / Wikimedia

The midterms are now less than 100 days away. They will be a crucial referendum on whether the American people want to place a check on President Donald Trump.

Democrats are trying to overcome obstacles, such as gerrymandering and new voter suppression laws, and hope to ride a “blue wave” to a majority in the House of Representatives. In the Senate, they face even more of an uphill battle as only a handful of the seats that are in play are held by the GOP.  

There is no clearer sign that these midterms will be of historical importance than the unprecedented amounts of money being spent this year. For Americans in competitive House districts and in swing states, this will primarily mean that they will soon be once again bombarded with TV ads, phone calls, and volunteers knocking on their doors.

Those who want to participate, and we urge all voters to do so, have to make sure they are registered and will be able to vote where they live.

For most Americans, casting a ballot is the most direct involvement in the political process. While many may feel that their votes do not matter, WhoWhatWhy has shown that this is patently false. Many races for national office often come down to a few hundred votes and local races are much closer still.

For example, the majority of Virginia’s House of Delegates last year came down to a single vote in the state’s 94th district.

In addition, Americans need to understand that being able to cast votes remains a privilege in this world. Although the American systems has its flaws, which we are routinely pointing out in our Election Integrity section, billions of people never get to vote in free and fair elections.

And those who try to exercise that right often do so at their own peril. Just last week, dozens were killed on election day in Pakistan.

These are just some of the reasons why no American should sit out this election. To provide more food for thought on this important issue, we thought it would be worthwhile to again take a look at some witty quotations on elections.

Please enjoy — and then register to vote or make sure that your registration is up to date.

Introduction by Klaus Marre


1. The problem with political jokes is they get elected. —Henry Cate, VII

2. I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. —Adlai Stevenson

3. Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for you. —Author Unknown

George Washington

Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Brooklyn Museum / Gilbert Stuart Painting / Wikimedia

4. George Washington is the only president who didn’t blame the previous administration for his troubles. —Author Unknown

5. If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it. —Attributed to Mark Twain

6. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. —Joseph Stalin

Boss Tweed

Photo credit: Cartoon by Thomas Nast from Harper’s Weekly / Wikimedia

7. Bipartisan usually means that a larger-than-usual deception is being carried out. —George Carlin

8.The oppressed are allowed once every few years to decide which particular representatives of the oppressing class are to represent and repress them. —Karl Marx

9. There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough US congressmen. —Author Unknown

10. We stand today at a crossroads: One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other leads to total extinction. Let us hope we have the wisdom to make the right choice. —Woody Allen

11. If you put your politicians up for sale, as the US does … then someone will buy them — and it won’t be you; you can’t afford them. —Juan Cole

12. Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide. —Joseph P. Kennedy

Hundred Dollar Bill


Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Andrew Magrill / Flickr

13. By the time a man gets to be presidential material, he’s been bought ten times over. —Gore Vidal

14. When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators. —P.J. O’Rourke

15. In a society governed passively by free markets and free elections, organized greed always defeats disorganized democracy. —Matt Taibbi

16. In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem. —George Carlin

17. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. —Winston Churchill

18. Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.Isaac Asimov

19. Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half. —Gore Vidal

My Vote

(Though this image shows two servicemen voting by absentee ballot from Vietnam in 1968.) Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from USMC Archives / Flickr

20. A citizen of America will cross the ocean to fight for democracy, but won’t cross the street to vote in a national election. —Bill Vaughan

21. If pigs could vote, the man with the slop bucket would be elected swineherd every time, no matter how much slaughtering he did on the side. —Orson Scott Card

22. President Bush remained undeterred by the massive display of American opposition, even though much of it came from the hundreds of thousands of voters who supported him by voting for Nader.—Jon Stewart

23. A politician thinks of the next election; a statesman thinks of the next generation. —James Freeman Clarke 

24. Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters. —Abraham Lincoln

25. A vote is like a rifle: its usefulness depends upon the character of the user. —Theodore Roosevelt

26.  Every election is determined by the people who show up. —Larry J. Sabato


Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Stalin (Segunda Guerra Mundial / Flickr).

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