Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Paul Wellstone, fully Paul David Wellstone

American Senator from Minnesota, Professor of Political Science at Carleton College, Co-Chair of the Wellstone Action nonprofit group

"The future will not belong to those who sit on the sidelines. The future will not belong to the cynics. The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."

"We know what we need to do. We may not know all the answers, but we know enough of them that we have no excuse not to act. Too many focus on the difficulty of the problem merely as a means of evading responsibility."

"The motivating force for change has to come from an energized, empowered public."

"A politics that is not sensitive to the concerns and circumstances of people's lives, a politics that does not speak to and include people, is an intellectually arrogant politics that deserves to fail. "

"I believe that we will deeply regret this stampede to pass this legislation and the way in which we have taken all the human rights, religious freedom, right to organize, all of those concerns and we just put them in parenthesis, put them in brackets, as if they don't exist. "

"What the poor, the weak, and the inarticulate desperately require is power, organization, and a sense of identity and purpose, not rarefied advice of political scientists."

"Politics is not about big money or power games; it's about the improvement of people's lives. "

"The people of this country, not special interest big money, should be the source of all political power."

"Politics is about the improvement of people's lives, lessening human suffering, advancing the cause of peace and justice in our country and in the world. "

"We cannot be accountable to the citizens of our country if we go into closed session or secret session and the people in country are all of a sudden cut out; that would be a terrible thing to do in a representative democracy. "

"Never separate the life you lead from the words you speak. "

"We should never separate the lives we live from the words we speak. To me, the most important goal is to live a life consistent with the values I hold dear and to act on what I believe in."

"A man of deep convictions. He was a plain- spoken fellow who did his best for his state and for his country."

"Above and beyond the question of how to grow the economy there is a legitimate concern about how to grow the quality of our lives."

"As free citizens in a political democracy, we have a responsibility to be interested and involved in the affairs of the human community, be it at the local or the global level."

"Bankruptcy has been a safety net not just for low income people, but for middle income people as well, ... It is being shredded. I think all I can say is, we'll just have to see how history judges us."

"Education and democracy have the same goal: the fullest possible development of human capabilities."

"Cessation from what seems to be a slide toward the bombing of a broader array of non-military targets, a potential oil embargo directed at other countries -- toward deeper involvement in a wider war -- that I believe we will come to regret."

"Commercial ties and trying to sort of make all the profit that we can make has trumped all concern for human rights. And that's not what our country is about."

"I do believe that there's going to be a pretty strong consensus for a very strong ... censure resolution."

"I don't think politics has anything to do with left, right, or center. It has to do with trying to do right by people."

"I dare to imagine a country where every child I hold in my hands, are all God's children, regardless of the color of their skin, regardless of whether they're boy or girl, regardless of religion, regardless of rich or poor, that every child I hold in my hands, will have the same chance to reach her full potential or his full potential. That is the goodness of our country. That is the essence of the American dream."

"How can we live in the richest, most privileged country in the world, at the peak of its economic performance, and still hear the Republicans, and too many Democrats, that we cannot afford to provide a good education for every child, that we cannot afford to provide health security for all our citizens?"

"I have a strong body, I have a strong heart, I have a strong soul."

"I know the conventional wisdom among Republicans is that this is the issue that will do him in, Wellstone said, speaking of himself. But I think people want you to do what you think is right. I think people want to support the president, but they?re very worried about doing it alone . . . I think people in Minnesota have the same concerns that I have."

"I really tried to never do anything I don't believe in, so I don't want to change it now. I really don't,"

"I emphasize self-esteem, self-confidence, and dignity, not as an ideal, but as a real test of community organization. Without leadership development, community organizations do not have staying power."

"I represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic party."

"I saw as a teacher how, if you take that spark of learning that those children have, and you ignite it, you can take a child from any background to a lifetime of creativity and accomplishment. But if you snuff out that spark of learning, it is the cruelest and most shortsighted thing a nation can do. Too many children see that spark of learning snuffed out."

"I think Bill Bradley has immense personal and intellectual integrity. I think he cares deeply about some issues that are very important to our country, how to get big money out of politics, how to revitalize democracy."

"I think the prophetic tradition of our [Jewish] faith is that to love God is to love justice."

"I think we ought to remember what Emerson wrote: ?The true test of civilization is not the census or the size of the city or the crops, but the kind of man (and I?d add women) the country turns out.? The kind of national goal we ought to be thinking about is way beyond national product ? it is how do we as a nation help our children be the best kinds of people they could possibly be?"

"I want to make sure there are votes to deal with serious human rights questions, the rights of workers to organize, trade compliance... It's something that I can do and should do and I'll be out there. I don't intend to be shut out."

"I think the future also will not belong to those who are cynical or those who stand on the sidelines."

"I think this is really a good example of the commercial calculus and ties taking precedence over everything else. It's sort of like the almighty dollar is triumphing over a lot of other values that we have as a nation."

"I would like to say to Sen. Ashcroft, if he is confirmed I wish him the very best,"

"If a teacher does not involve himself, his values, his commitments, in the course of discussion, why should the students?"

"I think we can do better. That is what Robert Kennedy always said. I think we can do better too. Won't you join me in the effort?"

"I was talking about no nukes, the farm crisis. People said that wasn't stuff that a state auditor was supposed to be talking about. Maybe they were right."

"If we don't fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don't really stand for them."

"I'm here to represent the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party."

"I'm short, I'm Jewish and I'm a liberal."

"If we go to witnesses, it will be a spectacle,"

"I'm not making a decision I don't believe in."

"It is the belief that extremes and excesses of inequality must be reduced so that each person is free to fully develop his or her full potential. This is why we take precious time out of our lives and give it to politics."

"One goal of teaching, a goal that works towards students forming their own intellectual commitments to help them be autonomous, fully participating members of a democratic community, is that we must bring our students to formulate their own questions and to fashion their own conceptual tools."

"Our aims in political activism are not, and should not be, to create a perfect utopia. What we seek is more simply to improve the quality of human life while at the same time respecting the natural environment which sustains it: 'Not a heaven on earth but a better earth on earth.' This is not at all a timid agenda, far from it. The work ahead of us is enormous!"

"In the last analysis, politics is not predictions and politics is not observations. Politics is what we do. Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine."

"Knowledge must come to inform the very fiber of a person's being in order for it to free him to live a life of his own. The first task in teaching is to bring to consciousness what the students already believe by virtue of their personal experiences about themselves and society."

"Organizers need to be careful and make a rigorous analysis of just what people are capable of doing."