The Inevitability of Snollygosters

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by Doug Casey, International Man:

Snollygoster is an archaic term for, “A fellow who wants office, regardless of party, platform or principles, and who, whenever he wins, gets there by the sheer force of monumental talknophical assumnancy.”

All right, that’s a rather antiquated definition, but then, “snollygoster” is a very antiquated term. It hasn’t been in use since the mid-1800s.

Another definition is, “A shrewd, unprincipled person, especially a politician.”

So, of what interest is this bygone nomenclature to us today?

Well, the definitions are exactly in keeping with our present-day politicians. When we look at our senators, parliamentarians, presidents and prime ministers, we see that, even with the passage of considerable time, the term “snollygoster” is applicable today.

And, we, the constituents, could be referred to as “grumbletonians,” a word common in England in the 1600s for those who are angry or unhappy with their government.

And we’re just as likely to be so exasperated with our political leaders that we resort to a “whipmegmorum”—a Scottish word from the 1700s for a noisy quarrel about politics.

These ancient and forgotten terms may be entertaining, but they may additionally raise a question in modern minds: Do you mean that it isn’t just that our present leaders are virtual cartoons—and destructive ones at that? Do you mean that (gulp) it’s always been this way?

…’Fraid so.

But, how is this possible? How is it that, regardless of the times we’re in, and regardless of whether we have literally hundreds of millions of citizens to choose from (in the larger countries), we end up with cartoon characters as leaders? Is it that we’re so bad at making a selection that we always choose the worst person?

Well actually, there the answer would be, “No.”

Voters don’t actively seek out the worst. The problem is that they’re presented with the worst. In the UK, we can complain about how useless Theresa May is; that she continually drops the ball and repeatedly acts with foolhardy overconfidence. But, if asked, “Would you rather have Jeremy Corbin?” those of us who grumble are likely to respond vehemently in the negative. (We don’t wish to jump from the pan into the fire.)

Similarly, across the pond in the US, Americans (including republicans) cannot help but laugh at their president as being an arrogant and petulant buffoon. (For the record, those of us outside the US also regard him as a source of perverse entertainment.) Still, I expect that most of those same people, if asked whether they think Hillary Clinton would be closer to their ideal of the perfect leader, they’d emphatically say, “No.”

So, the problem is not that the voters “get the leader they deserve.” The problem is that the game is rigged—that there are no good choices. In a small country, it’s easy to introduce a candidate whom the electorate actually believe in, then to push him forward to victory. But, the larger the country, the more impossible it is for anyone who deserves a leadership position to actually achieve it. (The system promotes its own kind.)

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