Stolen* from author William Gibson’s not very lively weblog (like I’m one to talk), a prescient quote from H.L. Mencken, who was always happy to dump on the democratic process, but probably thought he was talking about Warren Harding:
In small areas, before small electorates, the first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide…the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre… The presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office 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 adorned by a moron.
—H.L. Mencken, writing in the Baltimore Evening Sun, July 26, 1920
*In standard weblog parlance, I should really say this post was yoinked, or ganked, rather than stolen. Both words mean “lifted from somewhere else.” Yoink is, like a good one-third of all communication between Generation Xers, a Simpsons reference. I don’t know the etymology of gank, though the handy Urban Dictionary confirms the definition and offers a few variants.