With incivility running high in our politics and society, we sure could use a dose of sanity from Will Rogers, one of America’s greatest humorists.
The words he spoke about elections during the Great Depression are as helpful to us now as they were then.
“If you ever injected truth into politics you have no politics”
“One of the evils of democracy is you have to put up with the man you elect whether you want him or not. That’s why we call it democracy.”
“Both gangs have been bad sports, so see if at least one can’t redeem themselves by offering no alibis, but cooperate with the winner, for no matter which one it is, the poor fellow is going to need it.”
As king of the velvet-tipped barb, Rogers never intended to be mean but rather to bring us to our senses. One of his favorite subjects was to remind the political class that it worked for us - not the other way around.
“When Congress makes a joke, it’s a law, and when they make a law, it’s a joke.”
“You can’t hardly find a law school in the country that don’t, through some inherent weakness, turn out a senator or congressman from time to time ... if their rating is real low, even a president.”
“The more you observe politics, the more you’ve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”
Our current presidential election cycle is the nuttiest of my lifetime, but Rogers reminds us that politics and nuttiness have been close cousins for a long time.
“Congress meets tomorrow morning. Let us all pray: Oh Lord, give us strength to bear that which is about to be inflicted upon us. Be merciful with them, oh Lord, for they know not what they’re doing. Amen.”
“This country has gotten where it is in spite of politics, not by the aid of it. That we have carried as much political bunk as we have and still survived shows we are a super nation.”
“We all joke about Congress but we can’t improve on them. Have you noticed that no matter who we elect, he is just as bad as the one he replaces?”
Rogers was born and raised on a farm in Oklahoma. His wit reflected the heart of America - the horse sense, square dealing and honesty that are the bedrock of our success. His country wisdom gave him great insight into the silliness in Washington, D.C.
“A politician is not as narrow-minded as he forces himself to be.”
“It’s getting so if a man wants to stand well socially, he can’t afford to be seen with either the Democrats or the Republicans.”
“America has the best politicians money can buy.”
If there’s one thing we are short on these days, it is levity - the art of not taking ourselves or our politics too emotionally and too seriously.
We’re sitting on a pile of debt, entitlement costs are about to soar, economic growth has been tepid for years now and a lot of people are hurting. Can we please put these issues at the top of the discussion list, please.
Getting back our sense of humor is one way to do that if we have any hope of surviving this nutty election cycle.
To that end, I think we can all agree on this Will Rogers quote: “There is only one redeeming thing about this whole election. It will be over at sundown, and let everybody pray that it’s not a tie, for we couldn’t go through with this thing again.”
Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at Tom@TomPurcell.com