The immortal words of the comic-strip character Pogo.
(Perusing my blog, I noticed that I had a half-dozen started essays that I’d never completed and published. This is one of them from back in early 2016. I thought I’d dust it off and hit “Publish.” Comments?)
Here we are in the early stages of the Run for the Presidency, 2016, and the most likely candidates at the moment are a lying, incompetent carpetbagger from Arkansas and a blowhard billionaire whose only principles seems to be “make money” and “promote myself.” The Vermont Socialist could still pull it out if he could get the Democrat Superdelegates on his side, but that seems unlikely at this point. The Republican elite is shitting itself over the possibility that The Donald® might win the nomination, and the only other candidate with a chance is Ted “No Compromise” Cruz. They could defeat The Donald® if they united behind Cruz, but as Rush Limbaugh keeps repeating, they hate The Donald®, they FEAR Cruz.
How the fuck did we get to this point?
Political commentator Henry Louis Mencken, an early 20th Century Cassandra wrote in 1920:
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 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 easily 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.
So a low opinion of politicians and the electorate both is nothing really all that new, but I wonder if Mencken really believed what he was saying, or was he instead writing a warning? Doesn’t really matter now, though, because instead of electing a moron, we’re looking at electing an entirely different kind of disaster.
In 2006 I pulled a Quote of the Week from an Orson Scott Card book I was reading:
(America) was a nation created out of nothing – nothing but a set of ideals that they never measured up to. Now and then they had great leaders, but usually nothing but political hacks, and I mean right from the start. Washington was great, but Adams was paranoid and lazy, and Jefferson was as vile a scheming politician as a nation has ever been cursed with.
America shaped itself with institutions so strong that it could survive corruption, stupidity, vanity, ambition, recklessness, and even insanity in its chief executive.
A couple of years later, I pulled that quote again for my post Restoring the Lost Constitution, and asked the question:
But can it survive enmity?
I don’t have an answer to that question yet, but it may be coming sooner than anyone would like.