Stupidity got us into this, why can’t it get us out?

Our politics sure is divided these days. Tempers are flaring and minds are rigid and closed. Here’s the solution: the wit and wisdom of legendary humorist Will Rogers.

“The short memory of voters is what keeps our politicians in office.”

“We’ve got the best politicians that money can buy.”

“A fool and his money are soon elected.”

Rogers spoke those words during the Great Depression, but they’re just as relevant today. With 24-hour cable news channels and social media feeding people “information” that affirms their biases, people forget it isn’t Democrats vs. the Republicans. It is we the citizens vs. our ever-encroaching federal government, as these quotes make clear:

“Things in our country run in spite of government, not by aid of it.”

“Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.”

Today, unfortunately, we’re getting more government than we’re paying for. We cover the difference by borrowing billions every year or printing more money. 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, as he explained with these memorable lines:

“When Congress makes a joke it’s a law, and when they make a law, it’s a joke.”

I don’t make jokes. I just watch the government and report the facts.”

Rogers’ thinking on American foreign policy really hits home today:

“Diplomats 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.”

“Liberty doesn’t work as well in practice as it does in speeches.”

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, as these funny lines demonstrate well:

“When a fellow ain’t got much of a mind, it don’t take him long to make it up.”

“This country is not where it is today on account of any one man. It’s here on account of the real common sense of the Big Normal Majority.”

President Franklin Roosevelt, a frequent target of Rogers’ barbs, understood how valuable Rogers’ sensibility was during the years of the Depression:

“I 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.”

A sense of proportion is clearly what we’re lacking right now. The ability to think clearly and objectively and reaffirm that government works for us. Surely, we can all agree on this Rogers’ quote:

“Congress is so strange. A legislator gets up to speak and says nothing, nobody listens, and then everybody disagrees.”

What we need now more than ever is the calm, clear perspective that Will Rogers brought to our country. He offered sound advice on how we can get started:

“If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?”

Copyright 2024 Tom Purcell, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. See Purcell’s syndicated column, humor books and funny videos featuring his dog, Thurber, at Email him at