Opinion: The Humor—and Deadly Seriousness—of Democratic Elections

Share This Article:
A polling place in San Diego. Courtesy County News Center

By Colleen O'Connor

Californians will go the polls on Tuesday, with a record percentage of eligible voters registered to make a democracy’s most important decision.

Support Times of San Diego's growth
with a small monthly contribution

As you head out to vote, here are nine famous quotations. They’re mostly humorous, but the last is deadly serious. Many have died for a right that too many of us take for granted.

“Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with nowadays.”

— Humorist Will Rogers

“Don’t buy a single vote more than necessary. I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay for a landslide.” 

— Politician Joseph P. Kennedy

“I never voted for anyone. I always vote against.”

— Comedian W. C. Fields

“In politics women type the letters, lick the stamps, distribute the pamphlets and get out the vote. Men get elected.” 

— Republican Congresswoman, author and ambassador Clare Boothe Luce, 1940s

“The regular Democratic Party and its organization was run by men who looked on women as little more than machine parts.”

—  Governor of Texas Ann Richards

“Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.”

— President Richard M. Nixon

“In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.”

— Comedian George Carlin

“I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.”

— Politician and diplomat Adlai Stevenson

“If you don’t vote. You don’t count.”

— Carved on the gravestone of Mississippi civil rights leader Vernon Dahmer

Dahmer died protecting his family from a Ku Klux Klan firebombing of his house—a vigilante response to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and Dahmer’s offer that day to pay the poll tax for anyone who couldn’t afford it.


Colleen O’Connor is a native San Diegan and a retired college professor.

Follow Us: