George Jean Nathan:

Politics is a peep-show the particular low humor of which is derived from the circumstance that the performers have their eyes glued to the other end of the same keyhole that is used by the onlooking customers. [The Autobiography of An Attitude (London: Knopf, 1925), p. 38]

H.L. Mencken:

The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government; they have only a talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant or pine for something they can’t get, and to promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time is made good by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods. [On Politics, ed. Malcolm Moos (New York: Viking, 1960), p. 331. First sentence abridged.]

Ambrose Bierce’s “Election Day”:

Despots effete upon tottering thrones
Unsteadily poised upon dead men’s bones,
Walk up! walk up! the circus is free,
And this wonderful spectacle you shall see:
Millions of voters who mostly are fools,
Demagogues’ dupes and candidates’ tools —
Armies of uniformed mountebanks,
And braying disciples of brainless cranks.
Many a week they’ve bellowed like beeves,
Bitterly blackguarding, lying like thieves,
Libeling freely the quick and the dead
And painting the New Jerusalem red.
Tyrants monarchical — emperors, kings,
Princes and nobles and all such things —
Noblemen, gentlemen, step this way:
There’s nothing, the Devil excepted, to pay,
And the freaks and curios here to be seen
Are very uncommonly grand and serene.

No more with vivacity they debate,
Nor cheerfully crack the illogical pate;
No longer, the dull understanding to aid,
The stomach accepts the instructive blade,
Nor the stubborn heart learns what is what
From a revelation of rabbit-shot;
And vilification’s flames — behold!
Burn with a bickering faint and cold.

Magnificent spectacle! — every tongue
Suddenly civil that yesterday rung
(Like a clapper beating a brazen bell)
Each fair reputation’s eternal knell;
Hands no longer delivering blows,
And noses, for counting, arrayed in rows.

Walk up, gentlemen — nothing to pay —
The Devil goes back to Hell to-day.
[The Sardonic Humor of Ambrose Bierce, ed. George Harkin (New York: Dover, 1963), p. 44]