Simanaitis Says

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WHAT WITH this being Election Day, and indeed one of the more important elections in our nation’s history, I offer thoughts from three Americans of unalloyed brilliance: Mark Twain, Will Rogers, and Mort Sahl. We are fortunate in having the third of these guys still with us; the wisdom of the other two lives on.

Mark Twain. In “The Politics of Mark Twain,” bibliophile Brian Hoey writes, “Mark Twain’s politics can be slippery to pin down, in large part because the modern popular conception of Twain is of a man who loathes and disrespects politics. By all accounts Twain himself did everything in his power to foster that conception.”

Mark Twain, 1835–1910, born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, American writer, humorist, entrepreneur, publisher, and lecturer.

William Faulkner called Twain “the father of American literature.” An entrepreneurial tidbit: Clemens lost Big Time investing in the Paige typesetting machine, a less-than-reliable precursor of Linotype.


Here are several of Twain’s quotes on matters political.

“Never argue with stupid people. They will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience.”

“I have a higher and grander standard of principle than George Washington. He could not tell a lie; I can, but I won’t.”

“There is no distinctly American criminal class except for the Congress.”

“Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”

It’s generally thought that Twain did not originate “Politicians are like diapers: They should be changed often, and for the same reason.”

It’s a good line, nevertheless.

Will Rogers. Will Rogers was born in the Cherokee Nation, later part of Oklahoma. He wrote more than 4000 nationally syndicated newspaper columns, was a Hollywood film star, and was highly regarded for his political wit.

William Penn Adair Rogers, 1879–1935, American humorist, newspaper columnist, cowboy, and social commentator.

In 1928, convinced that all political campaigns were bunk, Rogers ran a mock campaign of his own. He was not to be alone in this; see also “Gracie [Allen] For President!”

Here are several of Rogers’ political quips:

On party affiliation: “I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.”

On what the farmer needs: “He needs a punch in the nose if he believes that either of the parties cares a damn about him after the election.”

On death and taxes: “The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

About appeals to the common man: “You can’t make any commoner appeal than I can.”

On his purpose in life: “I don’t make jokes. I just watch government and report the facts.”

Mort Sahl. Sahl has been on the cover of Time magazine as well as celebrated here at SimanaitisSays.

Morton Lyon Sahl, Montreal-born 1927, Canadian-American stand-up comedian, actor, and social satirist. Time, August 15, 1960, referred to Sahl as “Will Rogers with fangs.”

Here are several of Mort Sahl’s satirical views on the body politic.

On political differences: “Liberals feel unworthy of their possessions. Conservatives feel they deserve everything they’ve stolen.”

On the 1980 presidential election: “Reagan won because he ran against Jimmy Carter. If he had run unopposed, he would have lost.”

On conservative offspring: “If anybody comes up to you and says, ‘My kid is a conservative—why is that?,’ you say, ‘Remember in the 60s, when we told you if you kept using drugs your kids would be mutants?’ ”

On bankruptcy: “There’s danger our fiscal bankruptcy might overtake our moral bankruptcy.”

I would add that this matter of fiscal versus moral bankruptcy has become a close race. I trust that our votes today shall be heard. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2018


  1. jlalbrecht64
    November 6, 2018

    Fortunately, Trump is too stupid to understand Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) and understand that we can’t go fiscally bankrupt as a country (we print our own money). I’m afraid it would inspire him.

  2. carmacarcounselor
    November 12, 2018

    Favorite (and timely) Twain remark: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”

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