… is from pages 56-57 of the 2009 edition of the incomparable H.L. Mencken’s 1926 book, Notes on Democracy:
The great masses of men, though theoretically free, are seen to submit supinely to oppression and exploitation of a hundred abhorrent sorts…. Politics becomes the trade of playing upon its [the masses’s] natural poltroonery – of scaring it half to death, and then proposing to save it. There is in it no other quality of which a practical politician, taking one day with another, may be sure. Every theoretically free people wonders at the slavishness of all the others. But there is no actual difference between them.