Friday, September 12, 2014

H.L. Mencken on Government and Politics

Today is H.L. Mencken’s birthday.

Here are some great Mencken quotes. They are as relevant today as when he wrote them, decades ago :

1. Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

2. A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar.

3. A politician is an animal which can sit on a fence and yet keep both ears to the ground.

4. Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.

5. Democracy is also a form of worship. It is the worship of jackals by jackasses.

6. Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage.

7. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

8. Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.

9. If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.

10. The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

(Assembled by Mark Perry)



  1. Considering that 2/3 of Americans support bombing ISIS,

    11. No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.

    1. Ignore the pollsters. My favorites are 2, 6, and 10.

  2. Could a "Mencken" get work today?

    (I love this guy)

  3. If forced to choose the following probably holds the greatest appeal for me:

    "A good politician is quite as unthinkable as an honest burglar."