Quotations about   representation

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The right of voting for representatives is the primary right by which other rights are protected. To take away this right is to reduce a man to slavery, for slavery consists in being subject to the will of another, and he that has not a vote in the election of representatives is in this case.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
“Dissertation on First-Principles of Government” (1795)
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Added on 2-Aug-22 | Last updated 2-Aug-22
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No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election of those who make the laws under which, as good citizens, we must live. Other rights, even the most basic, are illusory if the right to vote is undermined. Our Constitution leaves no room for classification of people in a way that unnecessarily abridges this right.

Black - No right is more precious in a free country than that of having a voice in the election - wist.info quote

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
Wesberry v. Sanders, 376 U.S. 17 (1964) – majority opinion
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The ruling held that congressional districts must have roughly equal populations if possible, such that "one man's vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another's."
Added on 7-Dec-21 | Last updated 7-Dec-21
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Representing the voices of all those whose existence has shaped and formed the world in which we live provides an essential protection against the fascist myth.

Jason Stanley (b. 1969) American philosopher, epistemologist, academic
How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, ch. 4 (2018)
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Added on 3-Dec-21 | Last updated 3-Dec-21
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Since the objects of imitation are men in action, and these men must be either of a higher or lower type (for moral character mainly answers to these divisions, goodness and badness being the distinguishing marks of moral differences), it follows that we must represent men as either better than in real life, or as worse, or as they are.

[ἐπεὶ δὲ μιμοῦνται οἱ μιμούμενοι πράττοντας, ἀνάγκη δὲ τούτους ἢ σπουδαίους ἢ φαύλους εἶναι τὰ γὰρ ἤθη σχεδὸν ἀεὶ τούτοις ἀκολουθεῖ μόνοις, κακίᾳ γὰρ καὶ ἀρετῇ τὰ ἤθη διαφέρουσι πάντες, ἤτοι βελτίονας ἢ καθ᾽ ἡμᾶς ἢ χείρονας ἢ καὶ τοιούτους.]

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Poetics [Περὶ ποιητικῆς, De Poetica], ch. 2, sec. 1 / 1448a.1 (c. 335 BC) [tr. Butcher (1895)]
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Original Greek. Alternate translations:

The objects the imitator represents are actions, with agents who are necessarily either good men or bad -- the diversities of human character being nearly always derivative from this primary distinction, since the line between virtue and vice is one dividing the whole of mankind. It follows, therefore, that the agents represented must be either above our own level of goodness, or beneath it, or just such as we are.
[tr. Bywater (1909)]

Inasmuch as those who portray persons -- who must be relatively good or bad, since thus only can character regularly be classified, for the difference between any characters is relative badness and goodness -- portray such as are better than, worse than, or on a level with ourselves.
[tr. Margoliouth (1911)]

Since living persons are the objects of representation, these must necessarily be either good men or inferior -- thus only are characters normally distinguished, since ethical differences depend upon vice and virtue -- that is to say either better than ourselves or worse or much what we are.
[tr. Fyfe (1932)]

Since those who represent represent people in action, these people are necessarily either good or inferior. For characters almost always follow from these [qualities] alone; everyone differs in character because of vice and virtue. So they are either (i) better than we are, or (ii) worse, or (iii) such [as we are].
[tr. Janko (1987), sec. 1.3]

Since those doing the imitating imitate people acting, and it is necessary that the latter be people either of serious moral stature or of a low sort (for states of character pretty much always follow these sorts alone, since all people differentiate states of character by vice and virtue), they imitate either those better than we are or worse, or else of our sort.
[tr. Sachs (2006)]

The thing that representative artists represent are the actions of people and if people are represented they are necessarily either superior or inferior, better or worse, than we are. (Differences in character you see derive from these categories, since it is by virtue and vice that people are ethically distinct from each other.)
[tr. Kenny (2013)]

Added on 21-May-21 | Last updated 26-Jul-22
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There is that great proverb — that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013) Nigerian novelist, poet, professor, critic [Albert Chinualumogu Achebe]
Interview by Jerome Brooks, “The Art of Fiction,” #139, The Paris Review (Winter 1994)
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Referring to an African proverb, usually rendered, "Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter."
Added on 30-Nov-20 | Last updated 30-Nov-20
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If you aren’t at the table, you’re on the menu.

Ann Richards (1933-2006) American politician [Dorothy Ann Willis Richards]
(Attributed)

Richards regularly used the phrase, but it's unclear if she originated it. See here for more discussion.
Added on 5-Nov-20 | Last updated 15-Nov-20
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Although in our country the Chief Magistrate must almost of necessity be chosen by a party and stand pledged to its principles and measures, yet in his official action he should not be the President of a part only, but of the whole people of the United States. While he executes the laws with an impartial hand, shrinks from no proper responsibility, and faithfully carries out in the executive department of the Government the principles and policy of those who have chosen him, he should not be unmindful that our fellow-citizens who have differed with him in opinion are entitled to the full and free exercise of their opinions and judgments, and that the rights of all are entitled to respect and regard.

James K. Polk (1795-1849) American lawyer, politician, US President (1845-1849)
Inaugural Address (4 Mar 1845)
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Added on 14-Oct-20 | Last updated 28-Oct-20
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Because a body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody, ought not to be trusted by anybody.

Thomas Paine (1737-1809) American political philosopher and writer
The Rights of Man (1791)
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Added on 14-Jan-20 | Last updated 14-Jan-20
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Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.

The Bible (14th C BC - 2nd C AD) Christian sacred scripture
Proverbs 31:8-9 [NRSV]
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  • KJV: "Open thy mouth for the dumb in the cause of all such as are appointed to destruction. Open thy mouth, judge righteously, and plead the cause of the poor and needy."
  • GNT: "Speak up for people who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless. Speak for them and be a righteous judge. Protect the rights of the poor and needy."
Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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Every defendant is entitled to a trial in which his interests are vigorously and conscientiously advocated by an able lawyer. A proceeding in which the defendant does not receive meaningful assistance in meeting the forces of the state does not, in my opinion, constitute due process.

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1967-1991)
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984) [Dissenting]
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Added on 22-Oct-15 | Last updated 22-Oct-15
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Them as can do has to do for them as can’t. And someone has to speak up for them as has no voices.

Terry Pratchett (1948-2015) English author
The Wee Free Men (2003)
Added on 3-Jun-15 | Last updated 3-Jun-15
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The right to be heard would be, in many cases, of little avail if it did not comprehend the right to be heard by counsel. Even the intelligent and educated layman has small and sometimes no skill in the science of law. If charged with crime, he is incapable, generally, of determining for himself whether the indictment is good or bad. He is unfamiliar with the rules of evidence. Left without the aid of counsel he may be put on trial without a proper charge, and convicted upon incompetent evidence, or evidence irrelevant to the issue or otherwise inadmissible. He lacks both the skill and knowledge adequately to prepare his defense, even though he have a perfect one. He requires the guiding hand of counsel at every step in the proceedings against him. Without it, though he be not guilty, he faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence. If that be true of men of intelligence, how much more true is it of the ignorant and illiterate, or those of feeble intellect.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Powell v. Alabama, 287 U.S. 45, 53 (1932) [majority opinion]
Added on 27-Aug-14 | Last updated 27-Aug-14
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Finally, I believe in an America with a government of men devoted solely to the public interests — men of ability and dedication, free from conflict or corruption or other commitment — a responsible government that is efficient and economical, with a balanced budget over the years of the cycle, reducing its debt in prosperous times — a government willing to entrust the people with the facts that they have — not a businessman’s government, with business in the saddle, as the late Secretary McKay described this administration of which he was a member — not a labor government, not a farmer’s government, not a government of one section of the country or another, but a government of, for and by the people.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Speech, Philadelphia (31 Oct 1960)
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Added on 9-Jun-14 | Last updated 9-Jun-14
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The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people — faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but will also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment — faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956; 1964 ed.)
Added on 3-Mar-14 | Last updated 3-Mar-14
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The voters selected us, in short, because they had confidence in our judgement and our ability to exercise that judgement from a position where we could determine what were their own best interest, as a part of the nation’s interest.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage (1956)
Added on 24-Feb-14 | Last updated 24-Feb-14
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The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.

Robert M. Hutchins (1899-1977) American educator and educational philosopher
Great Books: The Foundation of a Liberal Education (1954)
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Added on 13-Dec-13 | Last updated 15-Jul-20
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The true democracy, living and growing and inspiring, puts its faith in the people — faith that the people will not simply elect men who will represent their views ably and faithfully, but also elect men who will exercise their conscientious judgment — faith that the people will not condemn those whose devotion to principle leads them to unpopular courses, but will reward courage, respect honor, and ultimately recognize right.

John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) US President (1961-63)
Profiles in Courage, ch. 11 (1956; 1964 ed.)
Added on 13-Aug-09 | Last updated 2-Jan-14
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I am here to represent humanity: it is by no means necessary that I should live, but it is by all means necessary that I should act rightly.

Incorporated into “Essential Principles of Religion,” Lecture, Congregational Society, Boston (16 Mar 1862).

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American essayist, lecturer, poet
Journal (May 1854)
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Added on 26-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Mar-20
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We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth, at least the truth that is given us to understand.

[Todos sabemos que el arte no es verdad. El arte es una mentira que no acerca a la verdad, al menos, a aquella verdad que se nos da para entendar.]

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) Spanish painter and sculptor
“Picasso Speaks: A Statement by the Artist,” interview with Marius de Zayas, The Arts (May 1923)
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Discussing cubism. Translated in Quote Magazine (21 Sep 1958) as "Art is not truth; art is the lie which makes us see the truth."
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 10-Apr-20
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