Fooling People

“You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.” (Abraham Lincoln, allegedly)

“If you fool enough of the people enough of the time, you will succeed.” (William Haltom, apparently)

The alleged quotation from Lincoln varies slightly, but none of the variations escapes a difficulty:  No politico needs to fool all of the people all of the time;  as a consequence, no politicos bother to fool all of the people all of the time.  Even if one could fool all of the people all of the time, it would be extravagant to do so.

What advocate strives to get nine justices on the U. S. Supreme Court and thereby risks losing a majority?  How many voters need one shift to win an election — 1%? 2%?  5%?

Actually, Honest but Misguided Abe, no one has the ability to fool all of the people for even a nanosecond.  No one can reach all of the people for more than a moment.  The World Trade Center towers come tumbling down;  rumors and cabals percolate up within hours or days.  As “truthers” and “birthers” have shown us, not all of the people will yield to facts and the absence of credible alternatives.

Modern mass media, seemingly ubiquitous, do not reach all of the people.  Mass media reach the masses rather than the totality. Beliefs and orthodoxies proseltyzed for millennia have yet to claim the attention of millions of people.

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