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Mencken on McCain (Sort of)

In troubled times I always turn, for spiritual rejuvenation and insight, to the writings of H.L. Mencken.  Here’s a letter that I sent recently to the Washington Post – a letter obviously inspired by Mencken:

Fred Hiatt hits the nail squarely: John McCain’s campaign is short on ideas (a happy fact, by the way, when one considers the few ideas that the Senator does offer) and long on appeals to patriotism (“What McCain Hasn’t Tried,” October 13).

Whenever I encounter such flag-waving, I recall this wise warning from H.L. Mencken: “Patriotism, though it is based upon the natural and indeed instinctive love of home, has been elevated in the modern world into an unparalleled congeries of imbecilities.  What it demands of the individual citizen, as a practical matter, is that he yield not only his judgment but also his property and even his life to whatever gang of scheming politicians happen to be in power.”

Donald J. Boudreaux

The Mencken quotation is from H.L. Mencken, Minority Report (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997 [1956]), pp. 115-116.