Saturday, October 11, 2008

Adlai's Prescience

Been reading about former Illinois Governor and two-time presidential hopeful Adlai Stephenson a bit, and had some really interesting quotes from him that seem to really be relevant today.
  • The whole notion of loyalty inquisitions is a national characteristic of the police state, not of democracy. The history of Soviet Russia is a modern example of this ancient practice. I must, in good conscience, protest against any unnecessary suppression of our rights as free men. We must not burn down the house to kill the rats. (1950)

  • What counts now is not just what we are against, but what we are for. Who leads us is less important than what leads us — what convictions, what courage, what faith — win or lose. A man doesn't save a century, or a civilization, but a militant party wedded to a principle can. (1952)

  • True Patriotism, it seems to me, is based on tolerance and a large measure of humility. ... Men who have offered their lives for their country know that patriotism is not the fear of something; it is the love of something. (1952)
  • A wise man does not try to hurry history. Many wars have been avoided by patience and many have been precipitated by reckless haste. (1952)

  • In matters of national security emotion is no substitute for intelligence, nor rigidity for prudence. To act coolly, intelligently and prudently in perilous circumstances is the test of a man — and also a nation. (1955)

  • Unreason and anti-intellectualism abominate thought. Thinking implies disagreement; and disagreement implies nonconformity; and nonconformity implies heresy; and heresy implies disloyalty — so, obviously, thinking must be stopped. But shouting is not a substitute for thinking and reason is not the subversion but the salvation of freedom. (1954)

  • You can tell the size of a man by the size of the thing that makes him mad. (1956)

  • Giving advice to a young politician: "Never run against a war hero." (Year unknown)

    ...and my favorite, and the one that resonates the most with me in today's climate:

  • When a woman said to him during his 1956 presidential campaign, "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!" Stevenson replied, "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

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