The Presidents of the United States have been in office during the successful years and the difficult times. There are websites devoted to the men who served in the office and what words they have spoken while occupying the position. The following are the most intriguing quotes from these men and what I think they wanted to say to the American people. This post is a subjective exercise. I am listing the ones that impress me.
1.”Few men have virtue to withstand the highest bidder. “
He was pointing out that most men have a price. When someone is prepared to give the highest bounty you have asked, few men or women can say “no.” The historical record is littered with people who have compromised their integrity for money, power and influence. Most have paid a price of some kind in either loss of reputations, loss of wealth or loss of freedom and sometimes all three.
2. “A government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have. “
This is perfect quote that demonstrates how government can take on a human dynamic. A government that is big enough to provide you with everything you need or desire can also use power to take those things away and then some. Most communist or socialist governments try to provide their citizens what they need but in exchange the society is forced to relinquish freedoms, like free press, free movement within boundaries, rights to privacy and slanted judgments within the judicial system.
3. “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. “
Harry S Truman
Every program manager and leader in America should have this hanging on the wall somewhere. If one person decides that their ego is above a certain goal, then accomplishing a goal just got that much more difficult. The tough part is getting a team to “buy in” to that idea. It is fine to deliver kudos and credit afterwards. That is what capitalism is all about. However, if you want to get somewhere fast, then build a team with one thought in mind and that is delivering an excellent product on time and within budget. Today’s congress, state and local governments should take a lesson from this.
4. “As man draws nearer to the stars, why should he not also draw nearer to his neighbors?”
Despite President Johnson’s intentions it seems that technology has pulled us away from each other. He is right. Just because we have all of this technology for our benefit doesn’t mean we as American’s can’t take time to get to know neighbors at home or strangers on the subway. He also might be speaking about getting to know America’s neighbors in the world, as in making an effort to know other countries cultures.
5. “Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man. “
President Reagan nailed it. Democracy in action may have its faults but it is the most effective and successful form of government produced by people. There are many forms of democracy but any shade of it is much more effective than an autocracy, theocracy, monarchy or oligarchy.
6.”The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
This piece of wisdom is perfect for today’s political climate. Extremes are where nothing ever gets done. There has to be some compromise so people can move forward and not let their goals end up stalled in a ditch somewhere. It’s easy to be inflexible. It is much more difficult to find common ground with your ideological opposite.
7. “True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made. “
Franklin D. Roosevelt
If you want capitalism and democracy, you have to make it work. As the late, former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neal used to say “All politics is local.” A politician can deliver and distribute many loft ideas about how government should operate. To most people striving to make a living and take care of their families, the measure of success is: Do I have a JOB? How much am I paying for gas? Can I afford groceries this month? Can I live comfortably and can I retire? If you don’t have these, then you have people willing to change the system to something else, like a dictatorship.
8. “Our problems are man-made; therefore they may be solved by man. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. “
John F. Kennedy
President Kennedy had one trait that makes great leaders, “A can do spirit.” He was saying, what we destroy we can rebuild. What we break, we can fix. What problems we create, we can solve. Everything that is around us was built, engineered, and invented by man. So with this in mind, he states, that man can solve these problems through the continuing ingenuity of man.
9. “People ask the difference in a leader and a boss. The leader leads and the boss drives. “
President Roosevelt states here that real leaders motivate people. A boss drives or “works” his people through fear or intimidation. Leading and motivating people will get you to your goal a lot sooner. This, of course, is a lot more difficult to put into practice. Some people learn it, some just have it, and others never learn the lesson.
What quote do you like? Leave a suggestion and tell me why?