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Old 10-06-2019, 02:20 PM
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America's plain folks reach their heart's desire at last


The famous American essayist H. L. Mencken wrote the following in the July 26, 1920 edition of the Baltimore Evening Sun. Did his prediction finally come true after ninety-six years?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Louis Mencken

The first and last aim of the politician is to get votes, and the safest of all ways to get votes is to appear to the plain man to be a plain man like himself, which is to say, to appear to him to be happily free from any heretical treason to the body of accepted platitudes-to be filled to the brim with the flabby, banal, childish notions that challenge no prejudice and lay no burden of examination upon the mind....

It seems to me that this fear of ideas is a peculiarly democratic phenomenon, and that it is nowhere so horribly apparent as in the United States, perhaps the nearest approach to an actual democracy yet seen in the world....

But when a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing ideas, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental—men whose whole thinking is done in terms of emotion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack, or count himself lost....

The larger the mob, the harder the test. In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart's desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:13 PM
Treppenwitz is online now
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We gotta give this one a little bump - it's just too excellent to it slip away too quickly. Damn, that H.L. Mencken was good.*

And well done to Septimus for spotting/remembering this.

j



* - I have long loved Chiropractic, but that has nothing to do with this thread.
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