An old Washington joke is that the Republicans are called “the stupid party” and the Democrats are called “the evil party.” When the Republicans and Democrats get together on legislation, they do something both stupid and evil—and they call it “bipartisanship.”
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) called conservatives “the stupidest party” in his Considerations on Representative Government (1861). The newspaper columnist Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was credited in 1993 with writing “There are two parties in Washington: the Stupid Party and the Evil Party.” It’s probable that Francis wrote the full joke at some time in the 1980s or early 1990s. The joke (cited in print since at least 1999) is also often credited to an unnamed Congressional staffer, who was explaining the U.S. government to someone from Russia (or another country in the former Soviet Union).
James George Jatras, that unnamed Congressional staffer (he served as foreign policy analyst at the US Senate Republican Policy Committee), explained the origin of the terms in a 2015 email (see below).
Wikipedia: Samuel T. Francis
Samuel Todd Francis, known as Sam Francis (April 29, 1947 – February 15, 2005), was an iconoclastic anti-capitalist paleoconservative columnist, nationally syndicated in America, known for his reactionary views on immigration, multiculturalism, miscegenation, and his involvement in debates concerning other controversial issues of the day. His supporters characterized him as a conservative and a realist, while to his critics he was a reactionary and a racist. Francis was also a leading political theorist of paleoconservatism; among his better-known stances was his claim that the Iraq War was illegitimate.
Wikipedia: M. Stanton Evans
Medford Stanton Evans (born July 20, 1934) is an American journalist, author and educator. He is the author of eight books, including Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies (2007).
“We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.”
Wikiquote: John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill (1806-05-20 – 1873-05-08), also known as J.S. Mill, was an English political philosopher and economist who was an advocate of utilitarianism.
I never meant to say that the Conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally Conservative. I believe that is so obviously and universally admitted a principle that I hardly think any gentleman will deny it.
. John Stuart Mill, in a letter to the Conservative MP, John Pakington (March 1866); this seems to have become paraphrased as “Conservatives are not necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservatives.” which was a variant published in Quotations for Our Time (1978), edited by Laurence J. Peter.
Considerations on Representative Government
By John Stuart Mill
London: Parker, Son, and Bourn
The Conservatives, as being by the law of their existence the stupidest party, have much the greatest sins of this description to answer for:...
By John Stuart Mill
New York, NY: Henry Holt and Co.
My position in the House was further improved by a speech in which I insisted on the duty of paying off the National Debt before our coal supplies are exhausted, and by (Pg. 289—ed.) an ironical reply to some of the Tory leaders who had quoted against me certain passages of my writings, and called me to acount for others, especially for one in my ‘Considerations on Representative Government,” which said that the Conservative party was, by the law of its compositions, the stupidest party. They gained nothing by drawing attention to the passage, which up to that time had not excited any notice, but the sobriquet of “the stupid party” stuck to them for a considerable time afterwards.
23 April 1969, Progress-Index (Petersburg, VA), “Silly Tinkering With The Electoral College” by Russell Kirk, pg. 6, col. 5:
John Stuart Mill called conservatives “the stupid party.” One is tempted to apply that judgment to Republicans, nowadays.
10 April 1973, Morgantown (WV) Post, “Legal services should be retained” by James J. Kilpatrick, pg. 6A, col. 5:
THERE ARE TIMES, sad to say, when American conservatives appear to constitute “the stupid party,” as John Stuart Mill once labeled their British counterparts a century ago.
14 August 1993, Washington (DC) Times, “More on the Stupid Party and the Evil Party”:
In an April lecture concerning immigration, Samuel Francis opined, “There are two parties in Washington: the Stupid Party and the Evil Party.” He did not say which was which.
24 June 1994, Bedford (PA) Gazette, Editorial: “When they agree, watch out,” pg. 2, col. 1:
“I am reminded of Sam Francis’ description of our political system as competition between the stupid party and the evil party,” writes Thomas Fleming, editor of the Chronicles magazine. “When they team up to do something that is both stupid and evil, it is called bi-parrtisanship.”
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Subject: Re: Who’s the stupidest member of the Congress?
Interestingly enough, although I am nominally a Republican, I can still think of many more idiotic GOP follies. I guess it’s the reason Samuel Francis refers to the GOP as “the stupid party.” Of course, he also refers to the Democrats as “the evil party.”
The Devil Knows Latin:
Why America needs the classical tradition
By E. Christian Kopff
Wilmington, DE: ISI Books
“In America we have a two-party system,” a Republican congressional staffer is supposed to have told a visiting group of Russian legislators some years ago.
“There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party.” He added: periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called: bipartisanship.
Straight Dope Message Board
11-22-2000, 05:49 PM
Evil Party vs. Stupid Party
I hit a quick dead end when I looked for the origin of these terms. It seems to be fairly common knowledge that syndicated columnist Sam Francis coined them for the Democrats and Republicans, respectively.
But something tickles me in the reptile part of my brain like a malignant feather. Don’t these terms go way back, to the post-Civil War era?
Washington (DC) Times
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Last month, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) sponsored a presentation at the Heritage Foundation by Mr. Evans. His presentation, to a group of Washington interns, was titled “The Role of Conservative Ideas in Practical Politics.” The following are excerpts from that presentation:
I will recite a little story that I think sums it up. It’s a true story. Back after the fall of the Soviet Empire … [Eastern European leaders] came to Washington to meet with our Congress to find out how we do it. God help them.
They were puzzled by our system. … In Europe … there are a lot of parties, 10 or 11 parties, and they don’t quite understand the two-party system. And so they met with a Republican Senate staffer, and asked him to explain our system. He said, “Yes, we have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party.” He said, “I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party.”
He said, “Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.”
The Chicago Lampoon
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The Wit and Wisdom of M. Stanton Evans
M. Stanton Evans was one of the wittiest conservative leaders and writers that I ever had the pleasure of meeting.
Here is a sample of Stan’s witticisms from across the years:
* “We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.”
It’s What Happens When the Stupid Party and Evil Party Get Together
Posted by Erick Erickson
Tuesday, April 12th (2011) at 4:46AM EDT
There is a quote out there that sometimes get attributed to Republican Senate Leader Everett Dirksen and sometimes not. The quote is that there two parties in Washington — the stupid party and the evil party. Every once in a while the stupid party and the evil party get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. In Washington, that is called bipartisanship.
(Email from James George Jatras, former foreign policy analyst at the US Senate Republican Policy Committee, on August 1, 2015)
Hi Mr. Popik
My name is Jim Jatras. I am writing with respect to your posting in 2011 re ‘Origin of “Stupid Party” & “Evil Party”’, which has only now come to my attention. That was a while back and may no longer be of interest to you. As you noted correctly, the evil/stupid/bipartisanformulation is usually credited to the late Sam Francis, who had heard it from an“anonymous Congressional staffer.”
As it happens, I am that staffer. As it is recounted in your 2011 posting: “In America we have a two-party system,” a Republican congressional staffer is supposed to have told a visiting group of Russian legislators some years ago.“There is the stupid party. And there is the evil party. I am proud to be a member of the stupid party.” He added: periodically, the two parties get together and do something that is both stupid and evil. This is called: bipartisanship. Actually, as I recall telling it to Sam: “We have an Evil Party and a Stupid Party. And if something is really evil and stupid, we call it bipartisan.”
Unfortunately I don’t remember which groups of Russians I was talking with. I may have also said something to the effect (as quoted) of being “proud to be a member of the stupid party,”but I am not sure – it was a while back. As I also recollect elaborating to the Russians (and later to Sam) in explanation of the labels: “The evil party wants to bankrupt the country and destroy its morals. The stupid party is, in principle, opposed to those things but doesn’t have a clue what to do about it.” I must admit that at the time (early 1990s) I underestimated the potential of either party to be evil and stupid simultaneously on its own, without the participation of its nominal rival. Live and learn, I guess. Not that it matters, but I thought I’d drop you a note in any case.
All the best
New York City • Government/Law/Military/Religion /Health • Wednesday, April 13, 2011 • Permalink