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Vote Books! 13 Literary Quotes to Take to the Polls

Edd McCracken

Staff Writer

Edd McCracken lives in Scotland, dislikes book spine breakers and loves when small words harmonise to make big ideas. Follow him on Twitter:  @EddMcCracken

Dear America,

Has it really been four years? Has it been that long since you were here, hands wavering over the ballot box, deciding whether blue or red is your favourite colour? But here you are again. Back for more. Wondering whether to back a donkey or an elephant. Wondering about hope. Wondering about how goes Ohio. Wondering why, if every election is ‘the most important in a generation’, who decided a generation now lasts four years?

Amongst all the whirligig of election day, take a moment to wonder. Elections are dramatic, exciting things. You get to play a part in writing the script. And just like all dramatic, exciting things, books have a lot to say. So, as you head to your polling station today, here are some choice quotes from literary minds to take with you. Some to inspire, some to challenge, some to depress, some to shout from the rooftops. They cover the gamut of emotions that elections bring out.

And remember, no matter who wins or loses, your country will still be here come November 7. The handcarts marked for hell will remain still. America will still be a country full of wonder and wondering. Because it will still be a country full of books and readers.

Happy election day.

Now go vote.

On why you should vote

“Thinking is not to agree or disagree. That’s voting.” – Robert Frost

On why you should really vote

“In reality, there is no such thing as not voting: you either vote by voting, or you vote by staying home and tacitly doubling the value of some Diehard’s vote.” – David Foster Wallace

On why, no joking this time, you should definitely, absolutely vote

“Those who stay away from the election think that one vote will do no good. ‘Tis but one step more to think one vote will do no harm.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

On one of the efficiencies of a dictatorship

“The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting.” – Charles Burkowski

On the flexibility of democracy’s maxims

One man one vote. Lord Vetinari is the man and he had the vote.” – Terry Pratchett

On why politicians salivate at rallies

“An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.” – George Eliot

On why everyone should read more

“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'” – Isaac Asimov

On why the losers should suck it up

“It is difficult to understand these people who democratically take part in elections and a referendum, but are then incapable of democratically accepting the will of the people.” – Jose Saramago

On why there should never be elections in hospitals

“In politics we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill we do not ask for the handsomest physician, or the most eloquent one.” – Plato

On democracy’s Achilles heel

“‘White men tell us: Vote! They tell us: ‘You do not all have to agree, ce n’est pas necessaire! If two men vote yes and one says no, the matter is finished.’ Even a child can see how that will end. It takes three stones in the fire to hold up the pot. Take one away, leave the other two, and what? The pot will spill into the fire.” – Barbara Kingsolver

On the paradox of Presidential candidates

“One of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.” – Douglas Adams

On why election day should keep you regular of spirit and bowel

“I know nothing grander, better exercise, better digestion, more positive proof of the past, the triumphant result of faith in human kind, than a well-contested American national election” – Walt Whitman

And finally, a gratuitous but spot-on Calvin and Hobbes quote

Calvin: When I grow up, I’m not going to read the newspaper and I’m not going to follow complex issues and I’m not going to vote. That way I can complain that the government doesn’t represent me. Then, when everything goes down the tubes, I can say the system doesn’t work and justify my further lack of participation.

Hobbes: An ingeniously self-fulfilling plan.

Calvin: It’s a lot more fun to blame things than to fix them.