Tag Archives: democracy

As democracy is perfected…

H.L. Mencken wrote this in the Baltimore Sun in 1920. It’s as if he’d been reading today’s political headlines.

Portrait of H.L. Mencken

H.L. Mencken, the Sage of Baltimore (source: Wikipedia)

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 be lost…

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.

Yes, Mencken was a cynic. But in this case he was frighteningly close to the truth.

As a counterpoint, of course, we have Churchill’s democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried.

Something to ponder on your Friday.

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Tell me why I should buy

Today’s post is about content marketing — specifically, the lowest form of content marketing: political advertising.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee, from the original edition of Through the Looking GlassOn three different days in the past two weeks the snail mail box has brought flyers from both candidates who are vying for a seat in our state legislature. Tweedledum’s ads all say that Tweedledee is unfit for election because he’s wrong about everything. Tweedledee’s ads say that Tweedledum is unfit because he once worked as (gasp) a lobbyist.

Here’s the thing: each candidate is so busy tearing down the other that he never says a word about why he himself might be the better choice. Continue reading

An appeal for liberty

Recently I wrote that all efforts at censorship are doomed eventually to fail. In fact, I believe that all efforts of any kind to suppress people’s liberties are doomed eventually to fail.

That belief was reinforced recently as I read No Enemies, No Hatred, the anthology of essays and poems by Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner who wasn’t allowed to accept his award. Continue reading