On respecting the men who rule us

“Already, indeed, there is ample evidence that the American people have lost all respect for their lawmakers, and are fast losing all respect for their courts. It is common to account for this by saying that material success has made them lawless, that they grow in natural viciousness, but a brief inspection is sufficient to show the error of that diagnosis. The truth is that they have come to view the law lightly for the good and sufficient reason that the law tends more and more to be an ass, and that they view the courts in the same way because the judges accept it as wise, and try to enforce its absurdities.”

“Our laws, we must remember, are not made by our wisest men, nor even by men of average wisdom, but by professional politicians, which means, in the main, by numbskulls, trimmers and crooks. It is the prime aim of these men, not to do that which is most prudent and patriotic, but that which is most popular and profitable, and so they are always ready to bend as the wind blows. If public ignorance seizes upon a new panacea, they are for it instanter. If private avarice is willing to share its spoils, they are willing to facilitate the spoliation. And if militant morality comes up at the double, dripping with the blood of sinners and howling threats, they are very eager to grant its demands and escape its savage revenges.”

The Free Lance 455, 1912-12-28

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