Saturday, March 7, 2009

Good Posture

My mother always told me as I was growing up that good posture was an essential to good health. Sit straight in your chair, hold your chin up, and never ever slouch was the rule of the day if I wanted to grow up to be a strong and healthy young man. I tried to follow those rules as the years went by (though I never did seem to manage the whole growing up thing) and as a consequence, the only thing bending my back these days is the crushing level of taxation that is leveled at me by city, state, and federal governments (but that's another story for another day).  

There is a different kind of posture that seems to be equally important these days however. This interpretation though, has less to do with long term health than it does with public image. Come to think of it, what I am talking about is really not posture at all, but is in fact simply posturing. It is an act performed rather regularly these days whenever a microphone or especially when a camera is present, by both our elected and appointed holders of government office.  

Now Webster defines posturing as: "to assume an artificial or pretended attitude", and I think that its a workable one for purposes of this discussion. In fact, I believe that no further explanation is necessary. You can probably picture one of the all too familiar faces and names without further suggestion from me. 

On the right, they will undoubtedly be talking about family values or strengthening the military. On the left they will unquestionably be talking about reforming societal inequity or simply helping those less fortunate. The speeches are well written, the tone of the speaker drips with sincerity, and most importantly they strike the proper pose in front of the microphone. On C-Span, CNN, MSNBC, or Fox, we are treated daily to the non-stop, non-partisan posturing of an endless stream of people who ostensibly have some actual function to perform; but feel that it is more important to strike the proper pose in order to show us either how caring or how important they are.  

I believe these days that there are few (if any) innocents left in government, and party affiliation makes little difference to this widepread affliction. There are just as many guilty parties on either end of the political spectrum. Even those claiming to be in the middle do so while taking a publicly practiced superior position of fairness, equality, and non-partisanship for all to see.  

It's not that any of these positions does not have merit at some level (though some have very little). I am sure that some them might actually seek to serve the greater good. The problem however is that these elected officials take them not as a matter of principle, but rather as a politically correct and electable pose used to both seek and maintain their power. Their affectation is clear and their performances lack conviction. Quite frankly, the whole thing would be rather sickening and pathetic if it weren't so widespread.

 So Mom, while I will be eternally grateful for the lectures that I received and the erect posture that I have, I sometimes wish that you had been able to communicate a more important message to a more widespread audience, a message on being upright (or forthright for that matter). Politicians seem to have learned proper posturing rather than proper posture, and I fear that few if any as a consequence, will ever be accused of having a backbone of any type.



Roland Hansen said...

Now, Tim, you don't really think there is such a thing as political posturing, do you?

I was going to make a comment on the descriptive phraseology you used to describe your own posture, but thought the better of it and decided I should not stand up and be counted on that one.

Tim Higgins said...


It's not that I don't believe in political posturing, it's that I don't believe in politicians.

As for my posture, around tax time they call me Quasimoto.