Trying to find some wisdom from those who govern

By Larry Simoneaux

Ye gads, are these the best we have?

While watching (with growing despondency) our leaders in D.C. acting like a group of petulant, bratty third-graders (who, unlike our leaders, have adult supervision), I began wondering.

Wondering whether it’s always been like this. Whether there’s always been an assortment of preening peacocks of puffery more interested in getting in front of a crowd than getting things done. Whether an interest in “one-upsmanship” rather than the good of the nation has always been the rule rather than the exception.

So, with hopes of quieting those thoughts, I jumped onto the computer and began a search. The following is a sample of what, over the years, some individuals have had to say about those who “govern” us.

The results, I’m sorry to say, didn’t still my beating heart.

“We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office.” — Aesop (620-560 B.C.)

“I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.” — Socrates (470-399 B.C.)

“Nothing is more unreliable than the populace, nothing more obscure than human intentions, nothing more deceptive than the whole electoral system.” — Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

“Among politicians the esteem of religion is profitable; the principles of it are troublesome.” — Benjamin Whichcote (1609-1683)

“Whoever makes two ears of corn or two blades of grass to grow where only one grew before, deserves better of mankind, and does more essential service to his country than the whole race of politicians put together.” — Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)

“I predict future happiness for Americans, if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

“The principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” — Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)

“An honest politician is one who, when he is bought, will stay bought.” — Simon Cameron (1799-1889)

“Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied.” — Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898)

“Politicians and diapers should be changed frequently, and for the same reason.” — Mark Twain (1835-1910)

“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 (1835-1910)

“The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” — Will Rogers (1879-1935)

“The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary” — H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” — Groucho Marx (1890-1977)

“Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river.” — Nikita Khrushchev (1894-1971)

“Political language… is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” — George Orwell (1903-1950)

“Only government can take perfectly good paper, cover it with perfectly good ink and make the combination worthless.” — Milton Friedman (1912-2006)

“Ninety percent of the politicians give the other ten percent a bad reputation.” — Henry Kissinger (1923 – )

“I think it’s about time we voted for senators with breasts. After all, we’ve been voting for boobs long enough.” — Claire Sargent (1934 – )

“There are always too many Democratic congressmen, too many Republican congressmen, and never enough U.S. congressmen.” — Author Unknown

I think that there’s an old French proverb that best sums up what we’re all up against just now.

“The more things change, the more they remain the same.”

Kind of scary, isn’t it?

Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments