Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) said since at least 1975: “Our job is not to make congress see the light, but to feel the heat.” Reagan used the saying several times during his U.S. presidency (1981-1989). The saying means that if a politician doesn’t “see the light” (see things your way), then the politician must “feel the heat” (lose campaign donations and not get re-elected).
“See the light/feel the heat” has been cited in a political context since at least 1950. In 1958, it was described as “an old phrase.” Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater (1909-1998) called “see the light/feel the heat” an “old expression in politics” in 1961.
Google News Archive
20 October 1950, Windsor (Ontario) Daily Star, pg. 8, col. 4:
“The trouble with the Conservative party is that they don’t advance as they see the light but move only when they feel the heat,” he said.
“I didn’t see the light,” the Senator replied, “I felt the heat.”
Why Democracies Fail:
A critical evaluation of the causes for modern dictatorship
By Norman LeVaun Stamps
Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press
If our statesmen are unable to see the light and can only feel the heat when it is turned on by a powerful pressure group, then it is difficult to resist the logic of the Marxian or Fascist claim for the right of a minority to seize control of the state.
12 January 1958, New York (NY) Times, ‘A Congressman Defends the House,” pg. SM14:
In the old phrase, the House will feel the heat, while the Senate may see the light.
24 October 1961, Seattle (WA) Daily Times, “Senator Goldwater: Voters Should Tell Congress How They Regard its Work,” pg. 12, col. 7:
THERE IS an old expression in politics to the effect that “elected officials see the light in a hurry, but it takes some time to feel the heat.”
1 July 1975, Aiken (SC) Standard, “Getting The Heat To Congress” by Ralph De Toledano, pg. 4, col. 3:
In Reagan’s words: “Our job is not to make congress see the light, but to feel the heat.”
Google News Archive
5 November 1975, Palm Beach (FL) Daily News, “Reagan: ‘Not Interested in Vice Presidency’” by Vicki Salloum, pg. 1, col. 4:
“So you see,” he (Ronald Reagan—ed.) laughed, “you can get something done not by making the legislature see the light but by making them feel the heat.”
Google News Archive
18 June 1981, Rock Hill (SC) Evening Herald, “Washington Today” by Walter R. Mears (AP special correspondent), pg. 4, cols. 3-6:
Reagan: see the light or feel the heat
WASHINGTON (AP)—On a 99-degree day, President Reagan decided to turn up the heat.
Reagan always said that if he couldn’t make Congress see the light, he would make them feel the heat.
Empowering Struggling Readers:
Practices for the Middle Grades
By Leigh A. Hall, Leslie D. Burns and Elizabeth Carr Edwards
New York, NY: Guilford Press
And, as the old adage goes, “When politicians feel the heat, they see the light.”
January 19, 2010 4:10 AM
Obama’s Decline in Popularity: What Caused It?
Posted by Jeff Greenfield
Ronald Reagan used to say of the California legislature, and then of the Congress, “if they can’t see the light, maybe they’ll feel the heat.”
Right Side News
Defeating Obamacare: The Nail In The Coffin.
Saturday, 23 January 2010 15:28 Dick Morris & Eileen Mcgann
As the Republican floor leader in the 60s Senator Everett Dirksen once said “when they feel the heat, they see the light.”
National Health Federation
Politicians Don’t See The Light, They Only Feel the Heat!
November 19, 2010
Look at S.510, the so-called Food Safety Modernization Act, which will accomplish nothing to make America’s food supply any safer. Instead, these people in Congress are passing a monstrosity that will have the opposite effect. It is being voted on right now and needs to be opposed – completely. Unfortunately, it looks poised to pass. Pressure must be put on these politicians.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 02, 2010 • Permalink