A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from June 14, 2012
“You can’t beat a horse with no horse” (political adage)

"You can’t beat a horse with no horse” is a racetrack saying meaning that you must have a horse in the race to beat another horse. The saying has been almost exclusively used in politics, meaning that you must have a candidate and a philosophy to beat another political candidate. “In politics as at the track you can’t beat a horse with no horse,” newspaper columnist Heywood Broun (1888-1939) wrote in November 1934. New York political columnists Walter Lippmann (1889-1974) and Tom Wicker (1926-2011) often used the saying in their columns in the New York (NY) Herald Tribune and New York (NY) Times, respectively.

A similar political saying is “You can’t beat somebody with nobody.”


Google News Archive
2 November 1934, Pittsburgh (PA) Press, “It Seems to Me” by Heywood Broun, pg. 33, col. 1:
IN POLITICS as at the track you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

Google News Archive
24 January 1935, Miami (FL) Daily News, “News Behind the News” by Paul Mallon, pg. 6, col. 7:
The anti-Whitney faction in the stock exchange has at last discovered that you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

27 July 1935, Hamilton Journal-The Daily News (Hamilton, OH), ‘Today and Tomorrow” by Walter Lippmann, pg. 7, col. 6:
There must be some alternativeto regimentation. But merely to deplore regimentation is not an alternative. Here, as in public affairs generally, the old rule holds that you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

Google News Archive
29 July 1944, Daytona Beach (FL) Morning Journal, “Today and Tomorrow” by Walter Lippmann, pg. 2, col. 5:
The degree to which Mr. Roosevelt seems indispensable will depend on how far Mr. Dewey makes himself available. The old political maxim will hold good: That you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

Google Books
Political Power and Personal Freedom:
Critical studies in democracy, communism, and civil rights

By Sidney Hook
New York, NY: Collier Books
1962
Pg. 436:
At the race tracks they say: “You can’t beat a horse with no horse.” And I add, nor with a dead horse.

Google News Archive
3 September 1963, Deseret News (Salt Lake City, UT), “Presidential Nomination: Goldwater’s Chances Slim” by Walter Lippmann, pg. 10A, col. 5:
It is probable that the senator has been the beneficiary of the old rule of politics that you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

If there is no other horse, except a lame horse, Senator Goldwater might get the nomination by default.

Google News Archive
8 November 1964, Modesto (CA) Bee, “Sehlmeyer Funeral Is Set Tomorrow,” pg. A2, col. 2:
“You can’t beat a horse with no horse,” he was fond of saying. “The only way to defeat a plan is to have a better one.”

Google News Archive
1 November 1967, Youngstown (OH) Vindicator, “There Is Hardly a Chance Democrats Will Dump LBJ” By Tom Wicker, pg. 16, col. 7:
Moreover, as the saying goes, you can’t beat a horse with no horse, and the challenging horse in 1968 could not conceivably be any Democrat but Robert Kennedy.

Google News Archive
6 December 1971, Youngstown (OH) Vindicator, “Mayor May Gain from Meany’s Hatred of Nixon—Labor Is Eyeing Lindsay” by Victor Riesel, pg. 9, col. 1:
Since it’s axiomatic at any race track that you can’t beat a horse with no horse—Meany and his movement have, it seems to me, done what comes unnaturally.

11 September 1975, Wall Street Journal, “On Conservatism and Capitalism” by Irving Kristol:
As the saying goes, you can’t beat a horse with no horse; and right now conservatives are horseless.

Google News Archive
28 July 1979, The Ledger (Lakeland, FL), “Carter and the campaign” by Tom Wicker, pg. 12A, col. 4:
But the most certain rule of politics is that you can’t beat a horse with no horse.

New York (NY) Times
IN THE NATION; The More Things Change . . .
By Tom Wicker
Published: November 11, 1990
(...)
Democratic publicists professed to see in Mr. Bush’s wimpy showing a boost for their party’s chances to recover the White House in 1992—demonstrating eyes closed to the fundamental law of politics: You can’t beat a horse with no horse.

Google News Archive
23 December 1990, Gainesville (FL) Sun, “You can’t win a race with no horse” by Tom Wicker, pg. 2G, col. 5:
But with the Democrats in their usual muddle, the oldest rule of politics may nevertheless apply: You can’t beat a horse with no horse.

20 September 1995, Washington (DC) Times, “The shock of the Neo”:
“You can’t beat a horse with no horse,” wrote Irving Kristol in 1975, “and right now conservatives are horseless.” Today, a mere 20 years later, the situation is reversed. Liberals are horseless, adrift and unconfident, while conservatives are ascendant, providing American politics a stable full of ideas and people who dominate the flow of our political conversation.

The New Republic
Movement Conservatism, Rip?
Damon Linker
February 3, 2009 | 11:27 am
(...)
Which reminds me of the old neocon quip from the late 1970s: “You can’t beat a horse with no horse.” Translation: You need an ideology if you want to gain (and hold onto) political power. Pragmatism and competence aren’t enough. (Unless you’re Dwight D. Eisenhower.)

NewsMax.com
Romney Must Beat Anti-Mormon Prejudice
Thursday, 27 Oct 2011 11:04 AM
By Susan Estrich
(...)
One other thing my father taught me: You can’t beat a horse with no horse.

Right now, Romney appears to be the only horse Republicans have. That may be one of the reasons why Barack Obama is beating all of the Republicans combined in terms of fundraising.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • (3) Comments • Thursday, June 14, 2012 • Permalink


Well the thought “You can’t beat a horse with no horse” is really applicable in the field of politics. For instance, if you are running as mayor in your city, it is a must that you should have money to spend for your campaign as much as your rival have. But for some situations, it can’t be applied. Thus, that notion for me is still relative. Just like the saying that if you are being thrown by stones, throw your enemy with bread because if you throw the same thing, it will only cause rage in both parties.

Posted by truck accident lawyer  on  06/19  at  10:16 PM

"Life is a race. If you don’t run fast, you’ll get trampled” this is the famous line of Dr. Viru in the movie Three Idiots (Bollywood film) . It suggests that life is a competition.We compete with our fellow human being to reach our individual goals in life.  The Same principle applies to the famous maxim:“You can’t beat a horse with no horse”. Politics is a very competitive field.You have to outrun all your competitors or they’ll outrun you. You have to do all necessary means to win over your rival, but it does not mean that you’ll have to cheat.

Posted by Finebloom, Haenel & Higgins P.A.  on  06/22  at  02:17 AM

Yes Three Idiots was very nice to learn for. I love the explanation which you did to take examples.

Posted by Bollywood superstars  on  08/21  at  01:50 AM

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