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Late Political Humor

“Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.” – Mark Twain (not Twain, likely from the book “The Peter Principle by Laurence F. Peter)

“The end of democracy and the defeat of the American Revolution will occur when government falls into the hands of lending institutions and moneyed incorporations.” – Thomas Jefferson (not Jefferson, but probably inspired by things he wrote).

“There are men running governments who should not be allowed to play with matches.” – Will Rogers

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” – Winston Churchill

“Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many, for appointment by the corrupt few.” – George Bernard Shaw

Instead of “Late Night Political Humor” this is political humor from dead (“late”) people. Isn’t it ironic that warnings given even hundreds of years ago are still true and relevant today?

Even more ironically, this gives me hope. Democracy has been a mess for a very long time, and yet we have somehow managed to survive and (generally) prosper.

I realize that politicians and the media do a very good job of scaring people into thinking that the world is about to end. I guess fear is a very potent message for getting votes and selling newspapers. But in the end, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

UPDATE: Ok, the quote from Jefferson wasn’t written by him, but it is similar to things he did say. And the quote from Mark Twain, like many things attributed to Twain, was from someone else. But my point (and optimism) still stands.



  1. Max wrote:

    You have to be careful with “quotes” from famous people. A lot of them are made up. I googled the Jefferson one, and sure enough, it’s a fake.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  2. Iron Knee wrote:

    Ok, I checked all the quotes, and two were mis-attributed. Sigh.

    Thanks Max!

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 9:20 am | Permalink
  3. Zed wrote:

    Democracy is the worst form of government invented by Man, except for every other form of government. -probably Churchill.

    Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 10:24 pm | Permalink
  4. ThatGuy wrote:

    I’ve been listening to a podcast called “The History of Rome” by Mike Duncan (I think) and it is wild hearing how the Roman Kingdom, Republic, and Empire ran into basically the same problems we see modern states having. Controversial subsidies, minority rights, separation of powers, and justification of authoritarian systems for security reasons. It’s an incredibly interesting listen.

    To add a quote that seems particularly relevant recently:

    “Stop quoting laws, we carry weapons.” – Gnaeus Pompey Magnus, quite ironic given that he’d later be the “defender of the Republic” after Caesar crossed the Rubicon. I have heard that quote translated a bit differently, but that’s the gist of it.

    Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 8:46 am | Permalink