Friday, March 10, 2006


Johnny Voter

Roy Morris, Jr., Ambrose Bierce: Alone in Bad Company (c1995; rpt. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. 180:
The main problem, to Bierce, was not the character of the nation's politicians, but the overweening stupidity of the electorate, exemplified by the paradigmatic figure he dubbed, with supreme scorn, "that immortal ass, the average man." "Surely 'the average man,' as everyone knows him, is not very wise, not very learned, not very good," he railed. "It seems to me that the average man is very much a fool, and something of a rogue as well. He has only a smattering of education, knows virtually nothing of political history, nor history of any kind, is incapable of logical, that is to say clear, thinking, is subject to the suasion of base and silly prejudices, and selfish beyond expression." When such men interrupted their leisure to vote, it was usually with predictable results. "Do you know, Johnny Voter, that you are a dupe? Does it penetrate your poor understanding that every time you throw off the top of your head to give tongue for the man of another man's choice the worthy persons who keep the table in the little game of politics are affected with merriment? Have you ever a dawnlight of suspicion that in the service of their purpose your wage is their derision, your pension their silent contempt? O, you will uphold principle. You will stand in to avert the quadrennial peril to the country. You will assist in repelling the treasonable attempt of one half its inhabitants whose interest (obviously) lies in its destruction. You will be a 'Republican' -- or a 'Democrat'; you will be it diligently, loudly and like the devil. Pray do; and when you have processioned your feet sore and your teeth loose, and been a spectacular extravaganza to the filling of your ambition's belly, may it comfort you to know that you have been a Tool."

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