Mr. Smith Comments on Washington

The Rock Star himself is visiting our campus tomorrow night for a huge outdoor rally—Leni Riefenstahl, bring your camera!—and the town is all a twitter. The local newspaper, which usually consults MU faculty or local politicians for commentary, ended its story with this curious bit:

Obama’s planned visit had already stirred enthusiasm this morning. . . . Walter R. Smith, a janitor who this morning was sweeping the northeast corner of Broadway at Ninth Street, said Obama’s visit was “super, super good.” “We need a change,” Smith said. “It’s gone down as far as it can go. But one man can’t do it by himself. He’s only one person. We’ve got to join together.” 

At first I thought, that’s a strange choice for an interview, but I quickly realized that Mr. Smith’s comments on the election are every bit as profound as what you’d read in the New York Times or hear on NPR. As Schumpeter once wrote:

[T]he typical citizen drops down to a lower level of mental performance as soon as he enters the political field. He argues and analyzes in a way which he would readily recognize as infantile within the sphere of his real interests. He becomes a primitive again (Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy, 3rd edition, pp. 262-63). 

Peter G. Klein is a Research Fellow, Associate Editor of The Independent Review, and Member of the Board of Advisors of the Center on Culture and Civil Society at the Independent Institute.
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