Editor‚Äôs note: This column was originally distributed by Cagle Cartoons in 2013.
Things are mighty heated these days. Tempers are flaring and minds are closed. Here‚Äôs the solution: the wit and wisdom of Will Rogers.
‚ÄúThe short memory of voters is what keeps our politicians in office.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúWe‚Äôve got the best politicians that money can buy.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúA fool and his money are soon elected.‚ÄĚ
Rogers spoke these words during the Great Depression, but they‚Äôre just as true today. With 24-hour news channels, our memories are shorter than ever. And in the mass-media age, the politician who can afford the most airtime frequently wins.
‚ÄúThings in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAlexander Hamilton started the U.S. Treasury with nothing. That was the closest our country has ever been to being even.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúBe thankful we‚Äôre not getting all the government we‚Äôre paying for.‚ÄĚ
Today, unfortunately, we‚Äôre getting more government than we‚Äôre paying for. We cover the difference by borrowing billions every year.
As the king of the velvet-tipped barb, Rogers never intended to be mean, but to bring us to our senses. One of his favorite subjects was to remind the political class that it worked for us, not the other way around.
‚ÄúWhen Congress makes a joke it‚Äôs a law, and when they make a law, it‚Äôs a joke.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYou can‚Äôt hardly find a law school in the country that don‚Äôt, through some inherent weakness, turn out a senator or congressman from time to time ... if their rating is real low, even a president.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThe more you observe politics, the more you‚Äôve got to admit that each party is worse than the other.‚ÄĚ
That‚Äôs for certain. I used to fault the Democrats for cronyism and reckless spending. But that was before Republicans took over.
Rogers‚Äô thinking on American foreign policy really hits home today:
‚ÄúDiplomacy is the art of saying ‚ÄėNice doggie‚Äô until you can find a rock.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúDiplomats are just as essential to starting a war as soldiers are for finishing it. You take diplomacy out of war, and the thing would fall flat in a week.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúLiberty doesn‚Äôt work as well in practice as it does in speeches.‚ÄĚ
Rogers was born and raised on a farm in Oklahoma. His wit reflected the heart of America - the horse sense, square dealing and honesty that were the bedrock of our success.
‚ÄúWhen a fellow ain‚Äôt got much of a mind, it don‚Äôt take him long to make it up.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThis country is not where it is today on account of any one man. It‚Äôs here on account of the real common sense of the Big Normal Majority.‚ÄĚ
Franklin Roosevelt, a frequent target of Rogers‚Äô barbs, understood how valuable Rogers‚Äô sensibility was during the years of the Depression:
‚ÄúI doubt there is among us a more useful citizen than the one who holds the secret of banishing gloom ... of supplanting desolation and despair with hope and courage. Above all things ... Will Rogers brought his countrymen back to a sense of proportion.‚ÄĚ
A sense of proportion is clearly what we‚Äôre lacking right now. We need to get it back quickly.
Hey, we‚Äôve got a rapidly aging population - a Social Security and Medicare train wreck is just over the horizon - and there is no shortage of additional woes we must resolve if we expect the American experiment to keep on rolling.
But instead of working to resolve our challenges, we snipe and point fingers and make absurd accusations. We forget we‚Äôre not Democrats or Republicans, but Americans.
What we need now more than ever is the calm, clear perspective of Will Rogers. He offered some sound advice on how we can get started:
‚ÄúIf stupidity got us into this mess, then why can‚Äôt it get us out?‚ÄĚ
Tom Purcell, author of ‚ÄúMisadventures of a 1970‚Äôs Childhood,‚ÄĚ a humorous memoir available at amazon.com, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist and is nationally syndicated exclusively by Cagle Cartoons .