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Chester A. Arthur

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Indiana was really, I suppose, a Democratic State. It has always been put down in the book as a state that might be carried by a close and careful and perfect organization and a great deal of— [from audience: “soap,” in reference to purchased votes, the word being followed by laughter]. I see reporters here, and therefore I will simply say that everybody showed a great deal of interest in the occasion, and distributed tracts and political documents all through the country.
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The remarks concerned the presidential election of 1880.
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New York Times (February 12, 1881)

 
Chester A. Arthur

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Well, it's been the monopolizing of great wealth, which tends to happen in basically unjust societies and undemocratic societies. We have plenty of would-be democrats, would-be liberals, and would-be progressives. But how do you organize? The Democratic Party is a machine to get votes for its people, none of who should probably be elected to the high offices of state. That's all. The Republican Party is fundamentally crooked and might well be outlawed one of these days. Le Pen, you know, in France, who is an out-and-out fascist, the French have managed in some clever way to contain him. I mean, he's always running for president; his votes never seem to show up. I don't know how they do it, but we've got to do that with the Republican base, the religious right. We don't want them running the country. Nobody does. Certainly not the founding fathers. And I think we have to ride herd on them and make sure they do not seize the state.

 
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There has been a great deal of disinformation spread around the world about me, both from inside the orgs and outside; there has been a great deal of rumor and generally a great deal of it is untrue (some of it is true) and I thought that you might like to hear about some things from me and look me over and then you make up your own mind.

 
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It always demands a far greater degree of courage for an individual to oppose an organized movement than to let himself be carried along with the stream — individual courage, that is, a variety of courage that is dying out in these times of progressive organization and mechanization. During the war practically the only courage I ran across was mass courage, the courage that comes of being one of a herd, and anyone who examines this phenomenon more closely will find it to be compounded of some very strange elements: a great deal of vanity, a great deal of fear — yes, fear of staying behind, fear of being sneered at fear of independent action, and fear, above all, of taking up a stand against the mass enthusiasm of one's fellows.

 
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"Well, he wrote a book -- well, maybe here I'm being political -- he wrote a book about the tyrants of South America, and then he had several stanzas against the United States. Now he knows that that's rubbish. And he had not a word against Perón. Because he had a law suit in Buenos Aires, that was explained to me afterwards, and he didn't care to risk anything. And so, when he was supposed to be writing at the top of his voice, full of noble indignation, he had not a word to say against Perón. And he was married to an Argentine lady, he knew that many of his friends had been sent to jail. He knew all about the state of our country, but not a word against him. At the same time, he was speaking against the United States, knowing the whole thing was a lie, no? But, of course, that doesn't mean anything against his poetry. Neruda is a very fine poet, a great poet in fact. And when they gave Miguel de Asturias the Nobel Prize, I said that it should have been given to Neruda! Now when I was in Chile, and we were on different political sides, I think he did the best thing to do. He went on a holiday during the three or four days I was there so there was no occasion for our meeting. But I think he was acting politely, no? Because he knew that people would be playing him up against me, no? I mean, I was an Argentine, poet, he was a Chilean poet, he's on the side of the Communists, I'm against them. So I felt he was behaving very wisely in avoiding a meeting that would have been quite uncomfortable for both of us."

 
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Many persons think a prophet must be a good deal better than anybody else. Suppose I would condescend - yes, I will call it condescend, to be a great deal better than any of you. I would be raised to the highest heaven; and who should I have to accompany me?

 
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