Debate #1, H.L.Mencken & the Election of 1920

Thoughts about Last Night’s Debate, H.L. Mencken and the Election of 1920

So my wife and I didn’t watch the debate last night. The reason we didn’t watch, was we figured we knew how it would end. Hillary would do well and Trump not so well. But in the end even if Hillary blew him away and Trump was awful it wouldn’t matter to Trump’s supporters. We both believe that Trump speaks the truth when he says he could shot and kill someone in Times Square and people would still vote for him!

A few weeks ago I was thinking about how long an Empire lasts and whether we are approaching the end of the American Empire.When I googled it, I discovered that many consider 250 years to  be the average time period her Empire! Look out America at 229 years we maybe be approaching the end of our run!

From Dark Ages America  a Great H.L.Mencken Quote

After that I went to my bookshelves, and I found a book that I bought when my daughter Elizabeth was in college. The book is Dark Ages America:The Final Phase of Morris Berman. I started reading it several years ago. I found it interesting, but as is typically the case, something better came along and I never finished reading it. Anyway, when I picked it up, I flipped through and came to the second to the last chapter The State of the Union. On the first page of the chapter there are three quotes. The second one jumped out at me. It is amazingly appropriate during this election….

“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 adorned by a downright moron.” –H.L. Mencken, “Bayard vs Lionheart” – Baltimore Evening Sun 26 July, 1920.

The above quote came from an article that Mencken wrote titled “Bayard vs Lionheart” about the lackluster 1920 Presidential Campaign. (you can find the full text of the article here).

The Election of 1920

The Republican candidate in that election was newspaper publisher and Ohio Senator Warren G. Harding. The Democratic nominee was newspaper publisher and Ohio Governor James M. Cox. Amazingly, Harding was nominated on the tenth ballot. One interesting fact about the election was that James Cox’s running mate was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It appears that H.L.Mencken was not a fan of either candidate. Here is the opening paragraph of the article……..

One discerns in all the current discussion of MM. Harding and Cox a certain sour dismay. It seems to be quite impossible for any wholly literate man to pump up any genuine enthusiasm for either of them.

Each, of course, is praised lavishly by the professional politicians of his own party, and compared to Lincoln, Jefferson and Cleveland by the surviving hacks of the party press, but in the middle ground, among men who care less for party success than for the national dignity, there is a gone feeling in the stomach, with shooting pains down the legs.

The Liberals, in particular, seem to be suffering badly. They discover that Harding is simply a third-rate political wheel-horse, with the face of a moving-picture actor, the intelligence of a respectable agricultural implement dealer, and the imagination of a lodge joiner, and that Cox is no more than a provincial David Harum with a gift for bamboozling the boobs.

Harding won the election in a landslide. From Wikipedia….

Harding’s 26.2 percentage-point victory (60.3% to 34.1%) remains the largest popular-vote percentage margin in presidential elections after the so-called “Era of Good Feelings” ended with the unopposed election of James Monroe in 1820. Harding’s 60.3% of the popular vote was also the greatest percentage since 1820, but was later exceeded by Franklin Roosevelt in 1936, Lyndon Johnson in 1964, and Richard Nixon in 1972. (all three losing candidates only managed to carry less than 20 electoral votes.)

Are There:Parallels between 1920 and 2016?

Many people feel the same way about the current election that Mencken felt about the 1920 election. They find neither of the candidates appealing. I personally was a Bernie Sanders  supporter. It’s not that I don’t like Hillary, I do, but I feel she is too polarizing a figure to be successful. I have visions of the Clinton years all over again. And I didn’t enjoy Whitewater or Bill’s Impeachment the first time around. However, Hillary,even with all her excess baggage, is still the preferred candidate.  It’s not even close in my opinion!

Back to the Debate

Getting back to the debate. From what i read I believe that the consensus of opinion is that Hillary won. I read a few different articles at my favorite blogs and the decided to see what the other side was saying so I visited the conservative blog RedState.where I found thiis article…..

For Donald Trump, The Debate Was A Total Disaster

In the article the author Jay Caruso writes….

….Hillary Clinton came across exactly as I expected – boring, pedantic and long winded. Her attempts at being funny reminded me of the person who tells a joke, laughs and says, “Get it?” to others. Still, Hillary was prepared, in command of the facts and pretty much ran circles around Donald Trump.

Trump continued to be an embarrassment as the standard bearer for the Republican Party. He did well in the first 20 minutes, hitting Hillary on trade and playing to the white working class voters that solidified his base of support. But from that point on, things got progressively worse..

During the GOP primary, Trump had the freedom to walk on stage, shout whatever drivel he wanted and walk off declaring himself the winner because he never had to take time to answer questions about policy, diplomacy or national security, with any depth.

Last night, he had to do that and he was not up to the challenge at all. Trump has zero command of the facts. His answers on specific policies sounded as though he was searching for the truth inside that head of his and there were times he rambled on incoherently to the point he reminded me of the homeless people you see at the train station talking to themselves. Read more

This was from a Conservative Blog!! I just hope that undecided voters came away with similar impressions. We all know that the first televised Presidential debate killed Nixon’s chances for victory. We can only hope and pray that last night’s debate and the future debates will do the same for Mr. Trump!!