Saturday, November 29, 2008
The New Political Diet
While recently reading the post of fellow blogger Maggie Thurber on this year's Food Stamp Challenge, I decided to throw up one of my usual semi-pointless and cheesy comments. Then I realized that there might actually have something in what I was saying.
You see politicians love the kind of challenges that allow them to hold press conferences (almost as much as they like the press conferences themselves). With the election over and no one due to take office for a month or so, there is little reason for such events, and nothing for them to say in front of microphones and reporters.
This situation is probably unacceptable to our representatives in government, so I would like to inject an opportunity for them to once again seek a little public attention by accepting the challenge that I propose: It is that each politician agree to discuss a given subject of their choice (or all of them if they're really a glutton for punishment) for a week without the sentimentality that normally dominates their remarks during public appearances. No compassion, no tugging at the heartstrings of the voters, no appealing to our "better angels"; just (as they used to say on "Dragnet") "the facts, ma'am".
I wonder if they could do it? I wonder if they would bother to do the work and research required to speak intelligently on nothing but facts without falling back on spin, trite phrases, and emotional appeals? I wonder if any could or would stand in front of reporters and speak from the head and not the heart.
It would certainly be refreshing, wouldn't it? It would in fact be the equivalent of the Atkins diet of politics. Nothing but the protein of facts, without the double helping of emotional carbohydrates and fat. A true performance of the Aristotelian method of discussion based on empirical evidence, common sense, with arguments laid out in simple symbolic logic.
Perhaps, in light of the fluff and nonsense that we were handed leading up to the election, we are actually owed a bit of this. Perhaps just once in our lives, we could be trusted with common sense instead of compassion, the facts instead of the truth. Perhaps beyond hope and change, there is fact and reason that may yet reveal itself.
So as we all attempt to recover from our over indulgences during Thanksgiving dinner, still parked in a recliner watching football games as we pound down a double helping of left over stuffing, I ask you to consider such a parallel universe. As we attempt to choke down yet another turkey sandwich we don't need while nodding off during a TiVo replay of the Macy's Thanksgiving parade (which they've ruined completely by the way, but that's for another day), I ask that you let such thoughts bring a smile to the place between those now chubby cheeks. As we lay down to sleep, with that last slice of pumpkin pie as our final conscious thought of the day, I ask you to use your imagination in dreaming about such a world.
I suspect that most of our current crop politicians would starve on such a diet, even if we could get them to take such a pledge (OK probably not, but we could hope anyway). Doing so however, might at least provide the opportunity to reduce some part of the dead weight that we currently put up with in politics.