Most people in this country, with the exception of political consultants and pundits, are not very happy with the direction of our politics. Campaigns are growing longer, louder, more bombastic, and enormously expensive. It’s increasingly difficult to discern fact from hype; to understand the real issues. Ironically, as news coverage becomes more and more overblown, average citizens are turned off by the entire process.
So let me introduce a modest proposal to reverse these trends. It seems that much of the problem stems from the bombast and hyperbole emanating from all fronts: from the candidates, from analysts, from commercials, etc. We need a way to cut to the collective chase; to get to the heart of a candidate’s message and responses to it.
So I propose, from now on, all political speeches, messaging, coverage and analysis should be done in the form of Haikus. That’s right, the Japanese poetry form that’s restricted to three lines and 17 syllables. Classically, five syllables to the first line, seven to the second line, five to the third.
Before you roll your eyes, shake your head and move on to the next article, let me explain the advantages. Haiku forces the writer to be extremely economical in prose and to think carefully about word choices. By its nature, it creates simplicity, sparseness and elegance. As political consumers, we wouldn’t be forced to wade through pages and pages of bombast and vitriol (well, it might still be vitriol, but it would be simple, spare, elegant vitriol.) Think of the economic savings: the costs of speechwriting, advertising and printed material would plummet. If you’re uncomfortable with the thought of using an imported, foreign-born literary device, call them Amerikus or Freedomkus.
Let’s try it out. Most news coverage these days focuses on the Republican primary race. Being an objective journalist, I need to go where the story is. Actually, that’s a bareface lie. I’m neither objective nor a journalist. As a liberal Democrat (see, I use the L word!) I enjoy ragging on Republican presidential candidates. So we’ll start with the presumed frontrunner – Mitt Romney. Mr. Romney has been accused of shifting positions:
O great consultant,
We pay you well, pray, today,
Who is the real me?