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Washington Post Explains Motto ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’

The Washington Post explains its 2019 motto change--at last--and its love-hate relationship with America.

Washington Post Explains Motto ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’

WASHINGTON, DC — Cartouche della Vonta, executive special public relations envoy of the Washington Post, offered a much-belated series of comments about the 2019 change of the Post’s motto to “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Della Vonta invited me to her palatial New York City home, just a stone’s throw from the house of the Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee.

After we made ourselves comfortable in the living room, Della Vonta noted that she’s “just so enthused for the opportunity to comment on what this slogan really, at heart, means to us all at the Washington Post.”

“Why now?” I said.

Della Vonta poured us both champagne.

“It’s timing,” she said.

She sipped her champagne. 

“We know what it means, in-house,” she said. “Our cronies in the media, actors, athletes, business people, so forth, they know what it means. But it’s one thing to know it, another to say it. You have to let this kind of thing linger in order to allow deniability.”

For Della Vonta and the staff of the Washington Post, deniability stood front and center. After all, the Washington Post considers the motto both a wish and a promise. And who could afford that kind of thing getting out all at once?

“We see this motto as the endgame for democracy,” said Della Vonta. “Call it ‘our collective wish,’ and one we know the universe will make good on.”

Della Vonta gets up from her chair, and from the far corner of the room, she pushes play on a CD player.

“Call me old fashioned,” she says, “but I think digital music loses some of the luster of the original. Don’t you?”

The song that plays is unfamiliar to me. Della Vonta says it’s a tune original to her. A  guitar strums, a la Joanie Mitchell, except the guitar is out of tune. Perhaps it’s Joanie after a long night of heavy drinking. 

Then a voice, like a caged bird, floats and crashes into the walls. It’s Della Vonta.

“As democracy dies,
It’s flame is shoved down
Deep into the overwhelming tidal wave
Of the power
Of a centralized government
Covering the land and
Controlling all citizenry
With we journalists at the fore
Ushering in a new age of peace
And joy.
Accept it,
Or we’ll shove it
Down your throat.”

A moment of revelation and insight. Far from a mere disagreement with the governing political philosophy on which America was founded, this newspaper, I realize, hates democracy.

“[The motto] is a wish,” Della Vonta says, sitting down again in the overstuffed leather armchair, “because it is what we hope for: that this clamoring, Model-T of a government, this idiotic timepiece of political wrangling, we are subject to would die, and not only die, but die a slow, painful, tortuous death in the darkness of oblivion.”

Della Vonta took a sip of champagne.

“We loathe democracy,” she said. “Everything progresses, it has to. Democracy is a mistake. Everybody knows that. Problem is, we can’t come out and say that. Could you imagine what FOX news would say about us? The American people already suspect it, thanks to idiots like Rush Limbaugh. But still, I loathe democracy. It is a government of the people, and let’s be honest: have the people ever made a good choice? Plato was right when he said, ‘People are idiots.’ They are. It’s so true.”

“What about Bill Clinton?” I said.

Della Vonta screwed up her face.

“Bill Clinton! You’re not serious. Bill Clinton was a clown we had to rally around because he was a democrat. I didn’t vote for him.”

This surprised me. I told her so and asked who she voted for.

She ignored me. “But the day has come when we can move from opaqueness about our big government lusts to a translucence. You’re familiar with these terms?”

“Dah,” I said.

“Because somebody like Clinton was still too American, in my opinion. Nobody would rally around a guy like that now. We need candidates who are daily tempted to raise a fist in honor of the communist state. It’s safer now with Biden to do that because he’s in bed with the communists. This is literally speaking. He actually slept with a communist sympathizer.”

As the conversation rolled from topic to topic, we arrived at the second aspect of the motto.

“This saying is also a promise,” she said. “If it was just a wish, I would probably have to move to Moscow, because my dreams of a communist America could never be fulfilled. I can stay in America because of this promise. We are confronted with the promise that democracy does die in darkness. There is no way around this. It is fact. Democracy will die, must die, and it will and must die in darkness.”

She snuggled into her chair, then sipped her champagne. She lowered her eyes at me. “It’s…orgasmic,” she said….


Back in 2019, when the Washington Post changed its motto, the mainstream media private textual intercourse thread (MMPTIT–users call it “main tit” and “the tits”) rang with praise for the Washington Post’s declaration.

  • “About time somebody did this!” – New York Times
  • “Booyah, conservative bitches! #suckonthisTrump” – CNN
  • “God how I loathe democracy. Let me suck the teet of FDR!” – Atlantic

Publicly, however, media outlets on the MMPTIT voiced their hesitation and concern for the maneuver. I mentioned this to Della Vonta.

“We expected that,” said Buzbee. “It’s a matter of decorum. Publicly tolerant of democracy. Pro-citizen, so on. Privately communist. Or at least pro-expansive government. We have a lot of fun on the main tit. It brings us together, helps us collect our collectivity. You should see some of the stuff that runs on there. It’s wild.”

“You have any examples?” I said.

“Nothing I can share. It’s private. National Riposte probably won’t get on the tits.”

She took a sip of champagne.

“I don’t know,” Della Vonta said. “It’s a process of weeding out the residue of the freedom-mongers and reiterating that government is best left to a small elite who have the training and sensibility to run the nation. Somebody has to be in control. Might as well be us.”



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