Less Is Moron

“As democracy is perfected, the office of the president represents more and more closely the inner soul of the people. On some great and glorious day, the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be occupied by a downright fool and complete narcissistic moron.”

–H.L. Mencken

What made him capable of such trenchant analysis? In 1920?

Remember, this is the guy that said, “wherever I sit is the head of the table.”

And mainly, I guess, he had zero regard for the people. Makes you wonder: Is it time for us to concur, and acknowledge that we’re just not cut out for this whole self-government dealio?

Think how easy it would be if somebody would just make all the decisions, and we could get back to that program we were watching?

Abdicate, from Latin ab “off, away from” and dicare “proclaim” is literally proclaim as not belonging to one. So, there’s nothing in the roots suggesting that someone who abdicates has to be a big shot like a mayor or a king or a capo or a Pope or a CEO. A whole supposedly democratic nation of citizens could be said to have abdicated, and the English language would roll over and take it.

Yuval Harari has been the single most helpful reverse engineer I’m aware of when it comes to understanding the zoo in a jungle* we’re busily threatening with its sixth extinction.

In Sapiens,  Dr. Harari traces the story of how, maybe 3.8 billion years ago, certain molecules combined to form intricate structures called organisms, which in turn formed even more elaborate structures called cultures.

The key to the development of widely shared cultures, one that enables power dynamics to be established and maintained?

Stories. Made from their own molecules: words.

Words, true and false, have been the embedded agents used to get enough people to go along with the best–and the worst–ideas there ever were.

About 70,000 or so years later, after several thousand years of drama and war and varietal foolishness, one step forward and two steps back, spin your partner, do-si-do…and the United States jumps the political shark.

Yep, we vindicated Mencken’s bleak assessment. And who gets to keep being the boss when they do such a lousy job of interviewing and hiring? How many coaches call the undrafted rookie’s number in the fourth quarter when the team is already down by double digits? Will they be around next year? Should they go ahead and resign, and say they’re going to spend more time with their familiies? Should they abdicate?

This week, the chief strategist for the White House, said “the media should keep its mouth shut.”

I’ve been careful to avoid facile parallels with some of the greatest hits in the long sordid tale of totalitarianism. But, a clear pattern emerges when you review the first steps taken during a hostile takeover from the inside.

Number 1 with a bullet, so to speak? Get those pesky people to give up on knowing what is true and what is false. Once they do that, they’re much more likely to cooperate. When every word is questioned, and every story composed of those words is equally a fairy tale, you’re off to a brilliant start.