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Election-eve Wisdom from the Wisest American

Posted By Don Boudreaux On November 5, 2012 @ 10:37 pm In Politics | Comments Disabled

Whether your favorite prancing pony* wins the coveted first place or, alas, manages to grab only second place in tomorrow’s election to be the next president of the executive branch of the United States government – the branch of the national government mentioned second in the U.S. Constitution after the legislative branch – I offer to you this piece of wisdom from H.L. Mencken, who is here speaking of politicians:

The one aim of all such persons is to butter their own parsnips.  They have no concept of the public good that can be differentiated from their concept of their own good.  They get into office by making all sorts of fantastic promises, few of which they ever try to keep, and they maintain themselves there by fooling the people further.  They are supported in their business by the factitious importance which goes with high public position.  The great majority of folk are far too stupid to see through a politician’s tinsel.  Because he is talked of in the newspapers all the time, and applauded when he appears in public, they mistake him for a really eminent man.  But he is seldom anything of the sort.**

* I again steal this perfect description from Yevdokiya Zagumenova, in her comment on this post from Russ [1].

** This quotation is on page 67 of the 1991 collection, edited by Marion Elizabeth Rodgers, The Impossible Mencken [2]; specifically, it’s from Mencken’s August 19, 1935 Baltimore Evening Sun essay entitled “The Constitution.”

If Romney wins, he will be no one’s – or no nation’s – savior.  Nor will he be any great force of evil or destruction, at least not when compared to the alternative.  For if Obama wins, he, too, will be (like his challenger would have been) nothing better than a supremely successful politician – which is to say, a fraud who is a master at deluding people into mistaking his arrogance and power-lust for selflessness and ability to work miracles.

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[2] The Impossible Mencken: http://www.amazon.com/Impossible-Mencken-Marion-Elizabeth-Rodgers/dp/0385262086/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1352172653&sr=1-1&keywords=impossible+mencken

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