Almost to the man, the Founding Fathers of this careening experiment we call the United States of America feared the eventual appearance of a demagogue. George Washington warned us about him. Alexander Hamilton warned us about him. John Adams warned us about him.
Only John Adams went one better. He saw that a demagogue without the support of the people is like a writer without the support of any readers. Without a populace that is smitten with the need for a father figure making every decision for them — even if these decisions benefit the father figure and not the children — a leader cannot rule.
In this sense, the poet Charles Bukowski and the second president share something in common. As evidence, I give you Bukowski’s poem “Democracy,” which, if ever a word needed air quotes, needs it now in this age of minority rule and minority rulers passing legislation to ensure it continues to rule.
Let’s give C.B. a listen, then:
the problem, of course, isn’t the Democratic System,
living parts which make up the Democratic System.
the next person you pass on the street,
3 or 4 or 40 million
and you will know
why things remain non-functional
for most of
I wish I had a cure for the chess pieces
we call Humanity…
we’ve undergone any number of political
and we all remain
foolish enough to hope
that the one on the way
will cure almost
the problem never was the Democratic
System, the problem is
Oh, man. Nothing like the mirror. People love to look at themselves yet hate to consider themselves. We live instead in an age of pointing fingers, no mirrors needed.
Charles, I forgive you the one-word, one-line envoi. And “you” who is you and me, stop chanting and think about it.