H.L. Mencken (pictured above) is often regarded as one of the most influential American political writers of the early 20th century. Today is Election Day, so it’s a great time to feature some of Mencken’s quotes on elections, politics, democracy, and government. Here are 12 of my favorite Mencken quotes (previously featured on CD in September on Mencken’s birthday):
1. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.
2. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.
3. A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.
4. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.
5. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.
6. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.
7. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.
8. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.
9. If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.
10. For every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.
11. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
12. 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.
Finding Trout In Your Milk?
“If we define an American fascist as one who in case of conflict puts money and power ahead of human beings, then there are undoubtedly several million fascists in the United States. There are probably several hundred thousand if we narrow the definition to include only those who in their search for money and power are ruthless and deceitful.” The Danger of American Fascism, Henry A. Wallace, 1944