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…

You may also like...

2 Responses

  1. Penny says:

    Gonna send you my latest attempt at order in my mind holding a pencil.

  2. Nancy Roth says:

    Penny sent this shortly after the first comment:

    Nancy- the Mencken article reminded me of my last round of attempt to order current events. This is my current theory of where it’s gone wrong in fighting crime, race, violence, drugs, guns, education, homelessness, broken budgets, poverty, etc.
    First, forget everything we think we know and start with a baby, any baby, all babies. They are all born with a clean slate which I’ll call a soul. Each one gets a whole soul, and it is his. Every time he hurts another, he gets a nick on that soul, but that soul comes from a source which I think is energy, and it is a common understanding of the value of life which is why there is a drop all borders reactions to tragedy and/or triumph of the human spirit. This wholeness relies on each owning his ability to make choices towards the best of life, not slighting another. Any slights is a ding on the offender’s soul, lessening his power to make a difference.
    Now add in the definition of “conservative” and “liberal”. To me it is in interpretation of a law or rule. A conservative would say one breaks the law, a liberal would say one breaks the law, but he gets an excuse like his poverty, his parents were druggies, he’s from another culture, he’s uneducated. I say you give a person an excuse, you are in effect giving him a pre-judged ding, categorizing him as unable to reach excellence in your terms without some assistance. Everyone is capable of having self-worth, self esteem. A teacher said to me on Thursday that those in poverty or from broken homes need help. I say that there are those who don’t listen to the excuses others give them for not being able to stake a life, and at sometime in their life, they had a mentor, a parent, a friend, a coach, a teacher, someone who supported them and knew when to let him go. They are able to own and make a life.
    All the conversations around Floyd, police, guns, mental health, drugs, etc., start after the drugs are delivered. I think Trump is right in stopping the drug coming into the country. I wish the users would be jailed or severely fined-If there weren’t users, there wouldn’t be a market for the cartels, the immigrants here trying to escape the cartels, the gangs, the violence.
    Now Minneapolis is preparing a bill to house the homeless- taking care of those who won’t take care of themselves. If they had to serve in a public way, I might think it a good idea, but it just feeds a bad habit.
    Anyway, I don’t like giving or taking excuses for living as a bum among us.
    Mencken thinks we’re all stupid. It may be happening!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *