How does a famous quote from Abraham Lincoln stand up today?
Most historians, and people in general, love good old Abraham Lincoln, what with ending slavery and saving the Union and all. But years before then, he was still becoming known for his debating skills (against Stephen A. Douglas) and for some insightful and memorable sayings. One of those, of course, was the following – “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Great words indeed, no doubt about it. In fact, it apparently was an instant hit even back then, being adopted by companies to use in ads to sell stuff and the like. And, what about today? You would certainly think, that with today’s hyper “connectedness” and mass “technology,” it would be hard to fool any of the people any of the time.
First, let’s look at ‘fooling some of the people all the time,’ you know, probably the ones in “fly-over country” where nobody goes to college and they are all “Trump zombies.” That doesn’t quite fit though, because the only reason they settled on Trump in 2016, is because they were no longer fooled by the Democratic Party, the party that took them for granted and assumed that they owned their votes.
Maybe it’s the people who buy in to everything they see on social media propagated by the Russians? Could be, but there certainly wouldn’t be false information distributed by the elite and all-knowing tech companies via mystery algorithms, would there?
Next, we have ‘fooling all of the people some of the time.’ What would there be in today’s world that could be fooling everyone? Given the fractured nature of the country, it would be hard to put a finger on any one falsehood that could unify us all in a single incident of grand stupidity. It’s not for lack of trying though and could be possible. You see, I think the common-sense portions of our brains grow smaller as technology dependence replaces thoughtfulness. Evolution indeed!
Now for the grand finale of ‘but you cannot fool all the people all the time.’ That would be true if the ruling elite had not figured out a sneaky angle for at least fooling most of the people all the time. It works like this: they make sure, over time, that there are only two dominant and opposing political parties. Next, they ensure that each party’s respective members “know” that all the ills of the world are due to the other party.
As Maxwell Smart might say, “Ah yes, the old divide and conquer trick.” Brilliant. If you have two dominant camps, each needs only to fool their own camp (some of the people) all the time, and the sum of the two equals fooling most of the people all the time, simply with different falsehoods. Fortunately, for the moment anyway, I can say ‘most,’ because there are still a few independent thinkers hanging in there!