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Centrist Quotes

Toward a Stronger United States

President George Washington

George Washington 1789-1797

“I was no party man myself, and the first wish of my heart was, if parties did exist, to reconcile them.”

President John Adams

#2 John Adams 1797-1801

“There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, it to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”

President Thomas Jefferson

#3 Thomas Jefferson 1801-1809

“I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”

“Every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We are all Republicans; we are all Federalists.”

President Thomas Jefferson

#4 James Madison 1809-1817

“I have always sought for the middle ground.”

President Thomas Jefferson

#16 Abraham Lincoln 1861-1865

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do, for themselves — in their separate, and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.”

President Theodore Roosevelt

#26 Theodore Roosevelt 1901-1909

“We [must] hold the just balance and set ourselves as resolutely against improper corporate influence on the one hand as against demagogy and mob rule on the other.”

“Just as Lincoln got contradictory advice from the extremists of both sides…so now I have to guard myself against the extremists of both sides.”

“Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars, but remember to keep your feet on the ground.”

President Thomas Woodrow Wilson

#28 Woodrow Wilson 1913-1921

“We stand in the presence of an awakened nation, impatient of partisan make-believe.”

“Government is not a warfare of interests.”

President Franklin D. Roosevelt

#32 Franklin D. Roosevelt 1933-1945

“The future lies with those wise political leaders who realize that the great public is interested more in Government than in politics. The growing independence of voters, after all, has been proven by the votes in every Presidential election since my childhood and the tendency, frankly, is on the increase.”

President Harry S. Truman

#33 Harry S. Truman 1945-1953

“Partisanship must end at the waters edge.”

President Dwight D. Eisenhower

#34 Dwight D. Eisenhower 1953-1961

“It is only common sense to recognize that the great bulk of Americans, whether Republican or Democrat, face many common problems and agree on a number of basic objectives.”

“Extremes to the right and left of any political dispute are always wrong.”

“The middle of the road is all of the usable surface. The extremes, right and left, are in the gutters.”

President John F. Kennedy

#35 John F. Kennedy 1961-1963

“Extreme opposites resemble the other. Each believes that we have only two choices: appeasement or war, suicide or surrender, humiliation or holocaust, to be either Red or dead.”

“This is a time for courage and a time of challenge. Neither conformity nor complacency will do. Neither fanatics nor the faint-hearted are needed. And our duty as a Party is not to our Party alone, but to the Nation, and, indeed to all mankind. Our duty is not merely the preservation of political power but the preservation of peace and freedom.” (Undelivered Speech, November 22nd, 1963) 

President Richard M. Nixon

#37 Richard Nixon 1969-1974

“Extremists on the left tend to be just as critical of pragmatism as extremists on the right.”

“Idealism without pragmatism is impotent. Pragmatism without idealism is meaningless. The key to effective leadership is pragmatic idealism.”

President Jimmy Carter

#39 Jimmy Carter 1977-1981

“On human rights, civil rights and environmental quality, I consider myself to be very liberal. On the management of government, on openness of government, on strengthening individual liberties and local levels of government, I consider myself a conservative. And I don’t see that the two attitudes are incompatible.”

President Ronald Reagan

#40 Ronald Reagan 1981-1989

“I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: As government expands, liberty contracts.”

“Ours was the first revolution in the history of mankind that truly reversed the course of government, and with three little words: “We the people.” “We the people” tell the government what to do, it doesn’t tell us. “We the people” are the driver, the government is the car. And we decide where it should go, and by what route, and how fast. Almost all the world’s constitutions are documents in which governments tell the people what their privileges are. Our Constitution is a document in which “We the people” tell the government what it is allowed to do. “We the people” are free.”

President Bill Clinton

#42 Bill Clinton 1993-2001

“When we put aside partisanship, embrace the best ideas regardless of where they come from and work for principled compromise, we can move America not left or right, but forward.”

“The choice we offer is not conservative or liberal. In many ways its not even Republican or Democratic. Its different. Its new. And it will work.”

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