Quote of the day—H. L. Mencken

The theory behind representative government is that superior men—or at all events, men not inferior to the average in ability and integrity—are chosen to manage the public business, and that they carry on this work with reasonable intelligence and honesty. There is little support for that theory in the known facts…

H. L. Mencken
From Minority Report, H. L. Mencken’s Notebooks, Knopf, 1956.
[And, sadly, representative government is better than all other forms attempted.—Joe]


3 thoughts on “Quote of the day—H. L. Mencken

  1. “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” William Buckley

    Well, maybe some city other than Boston.

  2. Mencken was wrong, though. That is the Progressive idea of representative gov’t.

    The Founders were happy if just HONEST men were elected.

  3. To elaborate on cargosquid’s point;
    “…to manage the public business…” That means totally different things to different people, and that right there is the problem. That phrase, “manage the public business” might be embraced equally by the libertarian and the totalitarian, because they define it in near opposite ways.

    So unless we’re given an exact, all inclusive definition of “the public business” the quote is largely meaningless.

    I am reminded of the over-used term “democracy” in public discourse, wherein the term “liberty” is usually ignored. One often precludes the other, yet it seems we’re expected to believe that they’re the same thing.

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