"Get re-elected” was called “the first law for officeholders” by Harold Faber, in a 1968 article on humorous “laws” for the New York (NY) Times. ‘Get re-elected” has also been called “the first law of incumbents” and “the first law of politics.”
“Get elected” has often been called “the first law of politics” and “get re-elected” has been called “the second law of politics.” These first and second laws of politics are common political statements and have no known authorship.
Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen (1896-1969) is often said to have had three laws: 1. Get elected, 2. Get re-elected, and 3. Don’t get mad, get even. Dirksen’s “three laws” were published in 1979, but earlier documentation is needed.
Sage Thoughts for Would-Be Politicians
The First Law of an Officeholder:
Wikipedia; Everett Dirksen
Everett McKinley Dirksen (January 4, 1896 – September 7, 1969) was an American politician of the Republican Party. He represented Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives (1933–49) and U.S. Senate (1951–69). As Senate Minority Leader for over a decade, he played a highly visible and key role in the politics of the 1960s, including helping to write and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Open Housing Act of 1968, both landmarks of civil rights legislation. He was also one of the Senate’s strongest supporters of the Vietnam War.
A selection of articles from the New York Times magazine
By Evron M Kirkpatrick
New York, NY: Holt
Most of what they do, in fact, either in an official or a private capacity, is motivated by that first law of political survival — to get re-elected.
Google News Archive
21 October 1967, Southeast Missourian (Cape Girardeau, MO), “Fulbright Civil RIghts Record Adds Irony to His Criticisms” by Max Lerner, pg. 4, col. 1:
In political life, the first imperative is to get elected, the second is to get re-elected and retain power.
17 March 1968, New York (NY) Times, “Faber’s Law: If There Isn’t A Law, There Will Be” By Harold Faber, pg. SM116:
The first law for officeholders is majestically short, simple and unassailable: “Get re-elected.”
28 May 1971, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Adelbert Grads Hear Ecology Plea” by Deena Mirow, pg. 2C, col. 1:
“The first thing a politician wants to do is get elected. Then once he is elected he wants to get re-elected,” he said.
Parents and teen-agers:
Getting through to each other
By Margaret Albrecht
New York, NY: Parents’ Magazine Press
The first law of politics is to get re-elected, which is why Richard Nixon is going to Peking.
1,001 logical laws, accurate axioms, profound principles, trusty truisms, homey homilies, colorful corollaries, quotable quotes, and rambunctious ruminations for all walks of life
By John Peers, Gordon Bennett and George Booth
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
The First Law of an Officeholder: Get re-elected.
AMERICANA: Our Beasts and Burdens
Monday, Feb. 26, 1979
Dirksen’s Three Laws of Politics. 1. Get elected. 2. Get reelected. 3. Don’t get mad, get even.−The late Senator Everett Dirksen
Pure politics and impure science:
The swine flu affair
By Arthur M. Silverstein
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press
Those officials who were successful in following Everett Dirksen’s famous First Law of Politics — get elected — are now busy in pursuit of his Second Law — get reelected.
The Politics and management of restraint in government : proceedings of a conference sponsored by the Institute for Research on Public Policy, Toronto, 19-20 September 1979
Edited by Peter Aucoin; Institute for Research on Public Policy.
Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy
As I understand it, the first law of politics is to get elected. The second is to get re-elected.
11 July 1982, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “It’s a Mad World” by Stanley Kramer, pg. A15, col. 5:
Both of them have heeded old Everett Dirksen’s admonition: “Get elected—get re-elected—don’t get mad, get even.”
New York (NY) Times
Term Limits—a Symptom, Not a Cure
By Thomas E. Cronin;
Published: December 23, 1990
STANFORD, Calif.— Get ‘em young, keep ‘em honest and keep ‘em there” went the refrain of party bosses, especially in the South. Seniority mattered in legislatures. This was matched by the first law of incumbents: “My first responsibility to my constituents is to get re-elected.” After all, “I can’t be much help to you if I can’t stay here a while.”
Drops of water, grains of sand
By James C Courtney
Victoria, BC: Trafford
Getting elected is the first and only respected law of the candidate: the second and only law is to get re-elected.
Man who saved the United States:
Who is left behind?.
By Robert Lee Scarborough
One must remember the first law of politics — get reelected!
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Monday, August 02, 2010 • Permalink