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 September 06, 2014
“There are no votes in foreign aid” (political adage)

"There are no votes in foreign aid” is an old political adage. Politicians gain votes bringing money back to their districts—not by sending money out of the country.

“There are no votes in Egypt, India, Mexico or the Scandinavian countries” was cited in print in 1956. Washington (DC) syndicated newspaper columnist Peter Edson wrote in 1961:

“One catch in it is that there are no votes in this foreign aid stuff. Congressmen can often win re-election getting an appropriation for a dam, flood control or harbor deepening project in their own state. But U.S. congressmen have no constituents to please in Asia, Africa or Latin America.”

The saying is also popular in Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom.


10 February 1956, Albuquerque (NM) Journal, “National Whirligig” by Ray Tucker, pg. 6, col. 3:
It is all very well for Secretary Dulles to argue that these nations, like Egypt and India, will turn to Moscow if we deny them further and greater aid. But this admittedly sound argument does not comfort or re-elect the honorable gentlemen on Capitol Hill. There are no votes in Egypt, India, Mexico or the Scandinavian countries.

11 July 1961, Morning Advocate (Baton Rouge, LA), “Washington” by Peter Edson (NEA), pg. 2-A, col. 3:
One catch in it is that there are no votes in this foreign aid stuff. Congressmen can often win re-election getting an appropriation for a dam, flood control or harbor deepening project in their own state. But U.S. congressmen have no constituents to please in Asia, Africa or Latin America.

11 July 1961, The Post-Standard (Syracuse, NY), “Case for Foreign Aid” (editorial), pg. 4, col. 1:
The second week in July finds Congress still dawdling over the foreign aid program.

The reason is that there are no votes in foreign aid. Congressmen can’t win re-election by appropriating large sums to aid other nations, as they can by voting funds for public works in their own bailiwicks.

Google Books
Studies in Democracy
William Henry Charles Eddy, Editor
London: F. W. Cheshire
1966
Pg. 78:
It is often said in Britain and Australia that there are “no votes in foreign policy”; this is in line with its awkward and esoteric character. In pressure groups areas, however, and in times of crisis, there will certainly be votes in it.

JSTOR
7 February 1970, Economic and Political Weekly, pg. 288, col. 2:
LONDON
No Votes in Aid?
SUCCESSIVE British ministers of overseas development have been in the habit of asserting that major initiatives in British aid policy must wait upon a more effective public demand. ‘There are no votes in aid,” one is told, as ifthat were the end of the argument.

Google Books
Economic Crisis:
A Christian Perspective

By John F. Sleeman
London: S.C.M. Press
1976
Pg. 95:
It is well known that there are no votes in aid, for the direct beneficiaries are outside the country.

Time magazine
Bono: The Right Man, the Right Time
Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2002
(...)
But if these initiatives are to get anywhere and overcome the suspicions of those in Washington who are convinced there are no votes in foreign aid, they need a constituency. The poor of the world can’t just rely on “the usual ‘poverty is bad’ liberals,” notes Lucy Matthew, who works for DATA, the policy network that Bono founded.

John Mark Ministries
How many Australians go to Church?
BY ROWLAND CROUCHER AND OTHERS ⋅ MAY 23, 2002
(...)
Another way of saying that: churches don’t generally lobby federal parliamentarians about foreign aid. (Gareth Evans, and Bill Hayden before him in Australia, and President Nixon in the U.S. have said, in moments of candour: ‘There are no votes in foreign aid’.)

The Mark News
What’s the Deal with Canadian Politics?
By Alex Himelfarb,
Former Clerk of the Privy Council of Canada.
Published: June 22, 2010
(...)
A former Prime Minister once commented that there are no votes in foreign aid or culture policy but taking these issues on gives politics its highest meaning – apart from winning of course. We are seeing less of politics’ higher dimension today and, it seems, less of winning too.

Medicine Hat (Alberta) News
National Affairs: PM on world stage to woo voters at home
BY MEDICINE HAT NEWS OPINON ON SEPTEMBER 6, 2014.
(...)
They will have to upend the old adage that there are no votes in foreign aid or international summits.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, September 06, 2014 • Permalink