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Entry from December 02, 2010
“Bad politicians are elected by good citizens who don’t vote”

"Bad politicians are elected by good citizens who don’t vote” has been attributed to drama critic George Jean Nathan (1882-1958), but there’s no evidence that he said it first (in the 1920s). The saying has also been attributed to storyteller John Henry Faulk (1913-1990), but he couldn’t have popularized the saying as early as the 1920s.

“Bad men are elected by good women who do not vote” was a slogan (cited in print since at least 1924) used by women’s groups; women had recently won the right to vote in the United States, but mostly men ran for public office. The city of Chicago had signs in 1928: “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.” The authorship of the saying is not known. One variation of the saying is: “‘’Bad leaders are elected by good people who don’t vote.”


Google News Archive
10 April 1924, Lewiston (ME) Evening Journal, pg. 1, col. 4:
BAD MEN ARE ELECTED BY
GOOD WOMEN WHO DO NOT
VOTE, DECLARES HAYNES
Calls for Second Crusade for Prohibition
-- Sec. Hughes Urges Respect for All Law

WASHINGTON, Apr. 10—The women for America were called upon “to enter upon a second crusade” for prohibition by Roy A. Haynes, Federal Prohibition Commissioner at the opening session today of the annual convention of the Women’s National committee for Law Enforcement.

9 April 1928, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “Go to Polls! Pastors Urge” by Arthur Evans, pg. 1:
A sign, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote,” greeted the Easter congregation at the Argyle Community church.

Google Books
The Golden Book Magazine
Volume 9
1929
Pg. 50:
CHICAGO GOVERNMENT POSTER:
“Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

1 September 1934, Baltimore (MD) Sun, “Jocko Declines To Be Impressed By Flood of Political Eloguence,” pg. 4:
Bad officials elected by good citizens who do not vote.

3 July 1938, Florence (SC) Morning News, “Editorial Comments” by J. A. Zeigler, pg. 4, col. 1:
The first thing to do is to register and the next thing to do is to vote, for after all “bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

Google News Archive
28 July 1944, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, “Walter Winchell on Broadway,” pg. 14, col. 2:
It has often been said that poor leaders are elected by citizens who don’t vote.

Google News Archive
14 March 1948, St. Petersburg (FL) Times, pg. 17, col. 4:
Bad Politicians
Named by People
Who Don’t Vote

Editor, The Times:
(...)
The main thing to remember, is to vote. Vote for whom you please, but vote. Many bad politicians are elected by good citizens who didn’t vote.
A LOVER OF DEMOCRACY

Google Books
9 December 1950, Montreal (Quebec) Gazette, pg. 6, col. 2:
To quote the slogan emphasized during the recent election campaign in Toronto, “bad candidates can get elected by good people who don’t vote.”

Google Books
The American Treasury, 1455-1955
By Clifton Fadiman
New York, NY: Harper
1955
Pg. 344:
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.
GEORGE JEAN NATHAN

Google News Archive
18 September 1955, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “Ike Spotlights How to Get You to Vote” by Paul R. Leach (Chicago Daily News Service), sec. 2, pg. 7, col. 1:
“Some politician years ago said that bad officials are elected by good voters who do not vote.”

Google News Archive
18 November 1960, Tri City Herald (Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, WA), “Good Undone Leads to Evil” by Father Keller, pg. 6, col. 3:
Bad politicians, goes an old saying, are elected by good people who won’t vote.

Google Books
Community Journalism
By Kenneth R. Byerly
Philadelphia, PA: Chilton Co., Book Division
1961
Pg. 50:
George Jean Nathan once said, “Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.”

Google News Archive
10 May 1967, Gettysburg (PA) Times, “Quotes and Unquotes” by Former Editor of The Item, New Oxford Item, pg. 2, col. 4:
Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don’t vote.

New York (NY) Times
Voting Isn’t Pretty, but Somebody Has to Do It; Those Good People
Published: November 6, 1994
To the Editor:
Re “Here Come the Republocrats” (Op-Ed, Nov. 1): Ted Rall’s explanation why he is abstaining from voting calls to mind a comment made by the humorist John Henry Faulk. When asked to explain the consistent level of mediocrity in Washington, Faulk replied: “Congress is made up of bad politicians elected by good people who don’t vote!”
PHIL HALL Bronx, Nov. 1, 1994

New York (NY) Times
Why Every American’s Voice Should Be Heard
Published: November 1, 2004
(...)
The old adage ‘’Bad leaders are elected by good people who don’t vote’’ is timeless and holds true today.
James W. Anderson
Talladega, Ala., Oct. 28, 2004

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 02, 2010 • Permalink


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