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30 January, 2017

WRITER H. L. MENCKEN HAD A CRYSTAL BALL BACK IN 1920

The following was written by H. L. Mencken in the Baltimore Evening Sun, 97 years ago. It eerily forecasts the results of the recent presidential election in the United State, especially the last paragraph as depicted in the above image.

"All of us, if we are of reflective habit, like and admire men whose fundamental beliefs differ radically from our own. But when a candidate for public office faces the voters he does not face men of sense; he faces a mob of men whose chief distinguishing mark is the fact that they are quite incapable of weighing idea, or even of comprehending any save the most elemental — men whose whole thinking is done in terms of motion, and whose dominant emotion is dread of what they cannot understand. So confronted, the candidate must either bark with the pack or count himself lost. All the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre — the man who can most adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum.

"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. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folk of the land will reach their heart's desired at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron."          
-- Baltimore Sun (26 July 1920)

Mencken (September 12, 1880 – January 29, 1956), a life-long resident of Baltimore, was an American journalist, satirist, cultural critic and scholar of  American English. Known as the "Sage of Baltimore", he is regarded as one of the most influential American writers and prose stylists of the first half of the 20th century. He commented widely on the social scene, literature, music, prominent politicians and contemporary movements.

As a scholar, Mencken is known for The American Language, a multi-volume study of how the English language is spoken in the United States. As an admirer of the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche, he was a detractor of religion, populism and representative democracy, which he believed was a system in which inferior men dominated their superiors. Mencken was a supporter of scientific progress, skeptical of economic theories and, oddly enough critical of osteopathic and chiropractic medicine.

It is too bad he was born 60 years too soon. He would have a field day with today's American politics. One thing for sure, he would not be invited to any Donald Trump press conference.

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