The Debate And Government You Deserve

Patrick McCorkle
2 min readOct 1, 2020


Thomas Jefferson put it elegantly: “The government you elect is the government you deserve.”

French philosopher and statesman Joseph de Maistre put it diplomatically: “Every country has the government it deserves.”

However, the acerbic journalist and critic H.L. Mencken had the best twist: “People deserve the government they get, and they deserve to get it good and hard.”

Many thanks to Vietnam veteran and Montana small business owner Elton W. Ringsak for compiling the quotes, as well as providing some pithy wisdom!

By now, we’ve all been reeling a bit from whatever the hell we saw last night.

To me, it appeared to be a marital counseling session gone wrong.

Nobody listened to anyone else.

The counselor was unable to assert any kind of authority.

Both sides wanted the other to shut up, and they both left in separate cars, dreading the next session.

We could get mad about it. How can the U.S. be represented by that? What did we do to deserve the worst presidential debate in history, as colorfully pointed out by reporter George Stephanopoulos?

Getting mad is not the answer.

Getting education and involved is.

We get the democracy we deserve, no ifs, ands or buts. As revealed by the 2017 Annenburg Constitution Day Civics Survey conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, based in the University of Pennsylvania:

37% of those polled could not name any rights protected by the First Amendment,

Solely 26% could name all three federal branches of government,

A third could not name a single federal branch.

Annenberg reported slightly improved results in 2019:

39% of respondents could name all three branches.

22% couldn’t name any.

This is basic, basic shit. How can you expect to debate politics if you don’t know these basic facts? Or, perhaps more tellingly, if you don’t know these basics, what are the odds that you care about government at all?

The answers to those questions aren’t good.

Every time we complain, we must keep these figures in mind.

If we want to change ridiculous laws,

If we don’t want to choose between a giant douche and a turd sandwich,

If we want to prove that we are capable of governing ourselves,

We need to know how our government actually works.

Contrary to what many believe, we are still a democratic republic.

Our leaders do not inherit their positions.

There is access to civics education.

People can educate themselves.

We are free to speak our minds.

It can be turned around.

Until then,

Expect dysfunctional marriage counseling-sorry, “debates”-to get worse and worse.

Expect the quality of the “candidates” to get worse and worse.

Expect to become less and less represented.

Expect more frustration and anger.

Expect to get shitty government good and hard.



Patrick McCorkle

I am a young professional with keen interests in politics, history, foreign languages and the arts.