Friday, November 12, 2004

225 yrs or so of democracy...

I came across the following quote attributed to Mencken in 1920. It seemed to be in tune with my previous post. So here it is.. (For those who do not have the patience to go through the quote in full, I direct your attention to the last para)

"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 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. His one aim is to disarm suspicion, to arouse confidence in his orthodoxy, to avoid challenge. If he is a man of convictions, of enthusiasm, or self-respect, it is cruelly hard…

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 a mob with him by the force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second or 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 hearts desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."

Fyi, Mencken was an American author, critic, newspaper man and iconoclast (or so I found on Googling)

1 Value-adds:

Blogger Chikka said...

agree with the views .. but cudnt fully appreciate this "the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum" ..

November 13, 2004 2:18 AM  

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