How true it is

How true it is

I ran into this quote today, by H.L. Mencken:

“Under democracy one party always devotes its chief energies to trying to prove that the other party is unfit to rule – and both commonly succeed, and are right.”

I’m sure this was originally spoken/written in jest, but it is completely true. Where’s the centrist party that every keeps talking about?

5 Responses

  1. Mike W. says:

    Mencken was one of the most satirical and cynical and irreverent writers of his time. He was hilarious, but brutal in many of his comments about politics and about America. And even with his critiques of America, he didn’t leave like many intellectuals of his generation who went to USSR and France after WWI. He felt that there was no other place where he could enjoy as much freedom (or laugh as much at people) as he could in the U.S.A.

    But the point that he makes comes back to the problems we were discussing on the 1984 post. Those who don’t have power want to get it. Those who have power want to keep it and expand it. Most often it’s not malicious or out of wickedness, it’s because of weakness of character and human nature. George Washington was so unique because he was willing to walk away when he could have had absolute power…the people would have given it to him.

  2. Dave W. says:

    As they say, “A ‘conservative’ is what you call the guy who won.”

  3. Reluctant says:


    You still don’t understand the terms. ‘Conservative’ is not in reference to the desire for no change in who is leading or who was elected. Conservative indicates two things when it comes to politics (from

    a) disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.

    b) small government (thus less spending)

    Think about lotion when trying to figure out the difference between liberal and conservative for option b: “Apply liberally to dry area of skin”. You never read the converse on the lotion bottles — “Apply conservatively…”

    It’s about how much you want government to change society/laws and how much you want government involved in your daily life.

    Ironically, the two parties often bleed into the other’s philosophy when it fits for there platform.

  4. Dave W. says:

    Dan, I understand the terms. But I also understand the reality. The self-proclaimed conservative party does not have a lock (or even a firm grip) on either definition as illustrated by the Schiavo ordeal and the spending of the Bush administration. And launching a war against a sovreign nation is certainly not conservative.

    The terms are useless to apply to a party or even usually to a person. I consider myself very conservative in some areas and very liberal in others.
    I think most people share the same conundrum: which of the ill-fitting party platforms do I wear?

    This is why party affiliation is becoming less important. If I remember correctly, I head that 25% of 2006 voters considered themselves independents. I think the advent of the internet has contributed to this by 1) getting people accustomed to having literally thousands of choices, and 2) giving people access to information about individual candidates and issues.

    “Liberal” and “conservative” as labels are losing their meaning (but not their symbolism for some).
    It’s time for the world to grow up and realize we all have a little bit of the jocks, stoners, mods, emos, dramamines, cowboys, nerds, etc. in us and to vote for people and issues, not for parties.


  5. Reluctant says:

    Ahh, so you do understand the term. It’s because you have repeatedly said things (like the previous comment) that indicate that you didn’t.

    Sorry for the confusion and I totally agree with your evaluation of the two terms.

    Along the lines of your comment, I’ve just finish Orson Scott Card’s new book, “Empire.” It’s a power illustration of what might happen if we continue in our current fanatical political rhetoric. I’ll post a review on it soon (I know you are waiting with baited breath).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.