There is a libertarian tendency to read Mencken as an earlier, pithier, and less schematic Ayn Rand, although there is little evidence--indeed, there are mostly counterexamples--in his writing to indicate that he thought much more highly of the Fords and Edisons of the world than the Hardings and Bryanses. He was a powerful advocate for a certain literary taste (if you think highly of Huck Finn, you can thank Mencken), an entertaining fan of German music, and he introduced Nietzsche to America, for the benefit of bombastic undergraduates hereandeverafteramen, and yet insofar as he could be said to hold a particular political philosophy, it would be most accurate to call him a heckler. In his own estimation: "I am not a constructive critic."
But one of the joys of being a part of the posterity for which an author partly writes is that the poor scribbler gets no posthumous say in how his words get deployed in argument, and so Menken's remarkable, quotable arias on the corruption endemic to the practice of democratic and representative government have served every club, clique, and ideology that America has subsequently produced. Despite such . . . democratic usage, I think it's fair to say that the libertarians and marketeers have cornered a fair portion of the Mencken market, and as in the above-linked piece by Rothbardian Doug French, they have deployed Mencken principally in order to advance and propound the benefits of a post-Jeffersonian natural aristocracy, a class of entrepreneurial meritocrats against whose rock-of-ages-like productive rectitude the depredations of the politicla class crashes, sprays, and retreats. I like to think that Mencken would be amused.
It is true that the canny Baltimorean did lament the universial plebianism of America, perhaps most famously in "American Culture":
The capital defect in the culture of These States is the lack of a civilized aristocracy, secure in its position, animated by an intelligent curiosity, skeptical of all facile generalizations, superior to the sentimentality of the mob, and delighting in the battle of ideas for its own sake.Regrettably for Doug French and the Mises institute, I do not think that Mencken was anticipating "Sir Richard Branson--knighted for "services to entrepreneurship"--[who] sticks to business and reportedly owns 360 companies."
Were it not so plainly a result of obvious yet resolutley unexamined intellectual prejudices, I would find it curious that our freemarketarian friends are so dutifully committed to the plainly preposterous notion that within enterprises outside the political realm, true merit and virtue are rewarded; the cream rises; talent is recognized; ability is a boon. On a small scale, this is funny because it presumes the existence of enterprise outside the political realm. On a grand scale, it's funny because its most ardent proponents have so obviously never spent much time in a business enterprise, where the perversities of who does and does not rise are, if anything, even more deranged than in the strictly political territory of electoral politics. While there are certainly some very smart, talented, incisive, conversant, articulate, and well-cultured businesscreatures in the world, most of our captains of industry are even more cretinous, subhuman, moronic, and depraved than the average US senator, and that's no low hurdle or short sprint. There is a reason that the cottage industry of office humor, which is nothing more than the endless retelling of the same joke about The Boss being An Idiot, has exploded into one of our culture's most uniformly popular forms of popular entertainment--behind only the psychosexual thrill of America's greatest single contribution to human civilization, the Law and Order franchise.