Quotations about   liberal

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Why is it that right-wing bastards always stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity, while liberals fall out among themselves?

Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Yevgeny Yevtushenko (1933-2017) Russian poet, writer, film director, academic [Евге́ний Евтуше́нко, Evgenij Evtušenko]
In The Observer (15 Dec 1991)
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Added on 19-Sep-22 | Last updated 19-Sep-22
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The principle of Toryism is mistrust of the people, qualified by fear; the principle of Liberalism is trust in the people, qualified by prudence.

William Gladstone
William Gladstone (1809-1898) English Liberal politician, Prime Minister (1868-74, 1880-85, 1886, 1892-94)
Inscription on bust, National Liberal Club, London
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This quotation, or versions of it, are certainly associated to Gladstone, but with enough variants to make concrete attribution difficult. Sometimes given with "Conservatism" substituted for "Toryism." Sometimes quoted in the opposite order. Some renditions use "tempered" rather than "qualified" for one or the other clause, e.g.,:

Liberalism is trust of the people, tempered by prudence; Conservatism, distrust of the people, tempered by fear.

The principle of Liberalism is trust in the people, qualified by prudence. The principle of Conservatism is mistrust of the people qualified by fear.

One party is influenced by trust of the people tempered by prudence, the other by distrust of the people tempered by fear.

The phrase has been attributed to speeches given in Oxford and Chester and in disparate dates from 1866, to 1872, to 1877. It is altogether likely he used different variations at multiple times. Two uses where I could find decent citations:

I think that the principle of the Conservative Party is jealousy of liberty and of the people, only qualified by fear; but I think the principle of the Liberal Party is trust in the people, only qualified by prudence.
[Speech, Opening of the Palmerston Club, Oxford (Dec 1878)]

[His policy of] trust in the people, tempered by prudence, and averse to violent and hasty change.
[Manifesto to the Electors of South-West Lancashire (1866)]

 
Added on 30-Aug-22 | Last updated 30-Aug-22
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The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003) American politician, diplomat, sociologist
Godkin Lecture, Harvard (1985)
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As reprinted in his book, Family and Nation (1986).
 
Added on 19-Feb-21 | Last updated 19-Feb-21
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Long ago, there was a noble word, “liberal,” which derives from the word “free.” Now a strange thing happened to that word. A man named Hitler made it a term of abuse, a matter of suspicion, because those who were not with him were against him, and liberals had no use for Hitler. And then another man named McCarthy cast the same opprobrium on the word. Indeed, there was a time — a short but dismaying time — when many Americans began to distrust the word which derived from “free.”

One thing we must all do. We must cherish and honor the word “free” or it will cease to apply to us. And that would be an inconceivable situation.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) First Lady of the US (1933-45), politician, diplomat, activist
Tomorrow is Now (1963)
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Added on 2-Nov-20 | Last updated 2-Nov-20
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I believe in human dignity as the source of national purpose, in human liberty as the source of national action, and the human heart as the source of national compassion, and in the human mind as the source of our invention and our ideas. It is, I believe, this faith in our fellow citizens as individuals and as people that lies at the heart of the liberal faith, for liberalism is not so much a party creed or a set of fixed platform promises as it is an attitude of mind and heart, a faith in man’s ability through the experiences of his reason and judgment to increase for himself and his fellow men the amount of justice and freedom and brotherhood which all human life deserves.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Liberal Party Nomination, New York (14 Sep 1960)
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Added on 30-Oct-20 | Last updated 30-Oct-20
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To anger a conservative, lie to him. To anger a liberal, tell him the truth.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
(Spurious)

Frequently attributed to Roosevelt but unsourced; first appears in the 2000s. See here for more discussion.
 
Added on 22-Nov-16 | Last updated 12-Mar-19
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For Liberalism, the individual is the end and society the means; nor is it conceivable that the individual, considered in the dignity of an ultimate finality, be lowered to mere instrumentality. For Fascism, society is the end, individuals the means, and its whole life consists in using individuals as instruments for its social ends.

Alfredo Rocco (1875-1935) Italian politician, jurist, economic theorist
The Political Doctrine of Fascism (1926)
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Added on 8-Sep-15 | Last updated 8-Sep-15
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We believe in only the government we need, but we insist on all the government we need. We believe in a government that is characterized by fairness and reasonableness, a reasonableness that goes beyond labels, that doesn’t distort or promise to do things that we know we can’t do. We believe in a government strong enough to use words like “love” and “compassion” and smart enough to convert our noblest aspirations into practical realities. We believe in encouraging the talented, but we believe that while survival of the fittest may be a good working description of the process of evolution, a government of humans should elevate itself to a higher order.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
Keynote Address, Democratic National Convention (16 Jul 1984)
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Added on 29-Jun-15 | Last updated 24-Jun-15
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We believe in a single fundamental idea that describes better than most textbooks and any speech that I could write what a proper government should be: the idea of family, mutuality, the sharing of benefits and burdens for the good of all, feeling one another’s pain, sharing one another’s blessings — reasonably, honestly, fairly, without respect to race, or sex, or geography, or political affiliation.

Mario Cuomo (1932-2015) American politician
Commencement Address, Iona College (3 Jun 1984)
 
Added on 22-Jun-15 | Last updated 22-Jun-15
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Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.

Tony Kushner (b. 1956) American playwright and screenwriter
Interview with Ben Greenman, “Tony Kushner, Radical Pragmatist,” Mother Jones (Nov/Dec 2003)
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Added on 14-Aug-14 | Last updated 14-Aug-14
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“Liberal” comes from the Latin liberalis, which means pertaining to a free man. In politics, to be liberal is to want to extend democracy through change and reform. One can see why the word had to be erased from our political lexicon.

Gore Vidal (1925-2012) American novelist, dramatist, critic
“America First? America Last? America at Last?,” Lowell Lecture, Harvard University (20 Apr 1992)
 
Added on 9-Oct-12 | Last updated 28-Jan-20
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If you’re not a liberal when you’re 25, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative by the time you’re 35, you have no brain.

Winston Churchill (1874-1965) British statesman and author
(Spurious)

This hasn't been found in Churchill's writings, and is generally believed by researchers (and the Churchill Centre) to be spurious. It's also misaligned with the ideological cycle of Churchill's own career.

See Clemenceau for more discussion about this general quotation form.
 
Added on 11-May-11 | Last updated 8-Dec-21
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Conservatism stands on man’s incontestable limitations; reform on his indisputable infinitiude.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
“The Conservative,” lecture, Boston (9 Dec 1841)
 
Added on 14-Apr-09 | Last updated 19-Feb-22
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The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out, the conservative adopts them.

Mark Twain (1835-1910) American writer [pseud. of Samuel Clemens]
Mark Twain’s Notebook, 1898 [ed. Paine (1935)]
 
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 26-Jan-19
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