Make America poetic again
Political discourse in our polarized polity would benefit from less emotionally expressive language in the form of tweets and more in the form of poetry.
Balancing individual freedoms against the imperatives of governance in an open society can be fraught with complications. But poetic governance can help maintain the tenuous balance between our contradictory impulses of competition and cooperation.
JFK once said: "If more politicians knew poetry, and more poets knew politics, I am convinced the world would be a better place." Poetry is the thread that weaves together our personal emotions into national consciousness and fosters E Pluribus Unum. It emboldens the better angels of our nature to subdue the tweeting-prone devils that lurk beneath – those mischievous fiends who flitter around Twitter's shady netherworld.
The ubiquitous micro-blogging tool doesn't favor circumspection, especially among self-righteous liberals who believe they are in sole possession of the truth. Rather, it encourages the instant gratification of uncensored put-downs and character assassination. It is a monster that propagates unsourced tidbits of scandal to sympathetic subscribers, further escalating the cycle of fake news.
Truth succumbs to radical subjectivity – so radical that, to play on Rene Descartes's musing, "I believe, therefore it is true" defines reality among the Democrats' Trump resistance movement. This insidious form of solipsism thwarts alternative facts from breaching liberal safe zones. The free flow of ideas upon which our constitutional republic thrives is subsumed by social media's powerful bandwagon bias.
Abuse on social media platforms like Twitter is rampant. (One study found that 50% of misogynistic tweets are from women, something conservative women like Sarah Palin would appreciate.) The majority of Twitter users are much younger and more liberal than the general population. They also tend to be more uncouth; for example, researchers from Queen Mary University in London found that liberals swear more on Twitter. They euphemistically explained their findings by noting that liberals tend to use more emotionally expressive language.
Fine. If the snowflakes want emotion, let's channel it civilly. Let's get poetic.
Our founders implemented poetry to help forge our national identity. They could turn a phrase while embracing the human spirit's quest for freedom, shunning the heretofore view that life, for the masses, is often nasty, brutish, and short. Instead, they affirmed for the first time in human history that we have an inalienable right to pursue happiness. They governed in poetry and in so doing bequeathed a heritage of classical liberalism and poetic civility that our most consequential presidents seized.
Lincoln: Invoked the better angels of our nature during his first inaugural. And though he wasn't the keynote speaker at Gettysburg, it is his poetic verse that continues to inspire us.
Teddy Roosevelt: Was passionately eloquent on the environment and conservation of America's mountain majesties, even as he walked softly and carried a big stick.
FDR: Put fear in its place and offered enlightening analogies during his fireside chats.
JFK: Challenged us on Earth and beyond with his lyrical speeches.
Reagan: Honored the Boys of Pointe du Hoc on the 40th anniversary of D-Day and consoled the nation by invoking the beguiling poem "High Flight" after the Challenger space shuttle accident in 1986.
Healers-in-Chief: President Clinton after the Oklahoma City bombing and President Bush after the 9-11 attacks invoked poetry to heal a mournful nation.
President Trump is the tweeter-in-chief. His instinct to bypass the MSM is entirely understandable, but his tweets are diverting attention from his agenda and the main reasons why he won the election. They have indirectly led to the appointment of special counsel in the Russia probe; they convolute messaging on his pro-growth America-first policies; they fuel feuds with faltering TV hosts who delight in their sanctimonious detraction.
I respect greatly President Trump's impulse to change norms and fight back, but to paraphrase George Bernard Shaw, don't wrestle with the MSM pigs – you'll both get dirty, and they will like it. Besides, it will give them the opportunity to focus on salacious scandals rather than political arguments they cannot win.
Many of America's monuments, and monumental moments, are embellished with poetic inspiration. They enshrine our nation's most consequential moments; they memorialize our magnificence; they comfort us after tragedies and uplift our souls. This Fourth of July, let's earn our birthright by helping to make America great again by making America poetic again.