Thursday, August 27, 2009

Quoting Adlai Stevenson

Famous photo of Stevenson, showing the bottom of his show with the sole worn through from walkingAs a person born in the very late 1950s, I am the wrong age to know anything much about Adlai Stevenson, who ran for president twice just before I was born and died when I was not yet 6 years old.

But every time I stumble across a quote from Stevenson, I'm enthralled. I recently saw this one in a newsletter:

"Some people approach every problem with an open mouth."

It got me wondering about who this man was, and what else he had to say.

One thing I didn't know about Stevenson was that before he was a lawyer and a politician, he was a journalist. From reading his early biography, it's clear his first love was words.

Here are a few more great Adlaisms.

"Change is inevitable. Change for the better is a full-time job."

Stevenson speaking at a microphone while campaigning"I'm not an old, experienced hand at politics. But I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning."

"Journalists do not live by words alone, although sometimes they have to eat them."

After an anti-United Nations demonstrator hit Stevenson in the head with her sign, and a man spat on him, Stevenson was quoted as saying "I don't want to send them to jail. I want to send them to school."

When a campaign supporter said he was sure Stevenson would "get the vote of every thinking man," Stevenson replied, "Thank you, but I need a majority to win."

"The tragedy of our day is the climate of fear in which we live, and fear breeds repression. Too often sinister threats to the Bill of Rights, to the freedom of the mind, are concealed under the patriotic cloak of anti-communism." [Updatable to anti-terrorism, as pointed out on the television show Boston Legal.]

"Patriotism is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime."

Time magazine cover with expressionist line drawing of Stevenson"Public confidence in the integrity of the government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for."

"The idea that you can merchandise candidates for high office like breakfast cereal -- that you can gather votes like box tops -- is, I think, the ultimate indignity to the democratic process."

"We have confused the free with the free and easy."


elena said...

My parents were big Adlai fans, and I've always been intrigued by him. These quotes are wonderful – thanks.

Ms Sparrow said...

Wow! Thanks for a timely salute to a great man. Some say that his intellectualism and his baldness were his defeat. What a pity!