Weighty Elections

Change was long overdue.  The stock market had crashed in Hoover’s first year as president.  Prospects looked bad for the next two years before turning truly dire in 1931.  Democrats, who hadn’t held power since the war, knew their time was at hand.  Franklin Roosevelt would win, Will Rogers’s said, “as long as he lived” to Election Day.

The foregone conclusion didn’t stop the candidates from attacking each other hard and, sometimes, below the belt.  Will Rogers objected to the nasty tone.  In his syndicated “daily telegram” of November 1, Will excoriated both incumbent and challenger.

“Imagine Mr. Hoover last night [saying] ‘any change of policies will bring disaster to every fireside in America.’  Of all the conceit.  This country is a thousand times bigger than any two men in it, or any two parties in it.  These big politicians are so serious about themselves and their parties.”  He chided: “So you two boys just get the weight of the world off your shoulders and go fishing.”

Would he say the stakes in 2018 are being similarly overblown?  Could Trump and his allegedly pliant party bring the country down?  Could the Democrats open the door for the “mob” to do the same?  Is the country really “a thousand times bigger” than any demagogue that might come along, or is Will being willfully naïve?

It’s kind of late in the season to go fishing but perhaps, once the returns are in, we could all benefit from a brisk walk in the woods.


Day, Donald, ed. The Autobiography of Will Rogers. Chicago: People’s Book Club, 1949: 298.

Images: Wikimedia Commons


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