Democracy and a Prophecy
H.L.Mencken, “the sage of Baltimore,” wrote this sobering prophecy almost exactly a century ago. I found it recently posted on Facebook by a former friend (former by his decision, not mine).
As democracy is perfected, the office of the President represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. 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 occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.”H.L. Mencken, The Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920.
Mencken believed that democracy was a form of government that gave inferior people control over their superiors. His prediction has a ring of inevitability, like a system, representative democracy, running its course. But of course the “plain folks of the land” — like me — resist the idea of “superior” and “inferior”. I find myself looking for a flaw in the logic, hoping against hope that he’s wrong somewhere, that it wasn’t inevitable…