In several posts over the years here at twc, I’ve invoked the principles of Classicism. Usually these invocations are in aid of addressing the artistic merits–or more often lack thereof–of different expressions claiming artistic merit, but I think the principles have a broader application to society at large, as well. For review, here they are:
Aside from technical matters of form, the principles of Classicism, as found in Classical Music, were
Think about it a bit. Wouldn’t it be better were political discourse to be balanced? No more thumb on the Mass Media Podpeople Hivemind scales or being in the tank for one viewpoint or candidate over another, just balanced reports by reporters who are aware of their biases and attempt to be fair in reporting the viewpoints and positions of those with whom they disagree? And wouldn’t it be amazing if that behavior were to spill over into political speech by candidates? What a boon for participatory government that would be!
And how about clarity? If politicians would seek to be clear, open and transparent instead of obfuscating their views with obscurantist babble and long-winded perorations and rambling perambulations designed to conceal the fact that they’re avoiding questions, people might actually listen with understanding (even appreciation! Amazing thought). Clear, unequivocal statements that lean heavily on fact and reason to persuade would be refreshing in politics, don’t you think?
And with clarity, accessibility goes hand-in-hand. If politicians were accessible, open to honest inquiry and continually aiming to make themselves available for discussion with The People, continually striving to make their policies, goals and purposes understandable instead of hiding behind doubletalk, perhaps we’d be able to have more political discussions about policy than about personality.
Expressiveness. Is anyone else besides me tired almost to death with the low quality of political speaking? Persuasive speech that depends on projecting phony emotion rather than full of genuine emotion powered by real reasons is a paper tiger. Even reading from teleprompters, it seems most contemporary politicians have the persuasive speaking ability of a doped chimp. Not pointing fingers, exactly, but when The One is held up as an example of expressive and persuasive public speaking, I begin to suspect the ones describing him so of being lobotomized and deaf.
Or perhaps it’s just that they’ve been around contemporary examples of political speech too long and have become effectively brain damaged by those examples. Could be. Rather in the manner of a public that laps up the artistic poison that is top 40 “artists'” manufactured “music” because their ears have been long dulled by exposure to similar noise.
Could it be that Sarah Palin’s convention speech electrified so many in part because it embodied at least some elements of Classical principles? My exhortation to her would be: Punch up the good stuff, Sarah. More clarity, please. Be balanced and restrained when dealing with jackasses like Charlie Gibson. Remain accessible. You need no lessons on expressiveness; just keep it up; more, please. And continue to build up (edify) our coutry, our people, by talking about what’s right about America. Proudly display the confidence that faith trumps doubt, that real hope and real change, as opposed to the phony hope n change (or is that “shuck n jive”–oops! now I’ll be accused of being a racist! My bad. *yawn*) of empty rhetoric, must come from the People.
Maybe some of it’ll rub off on the smart pols. I’ll not hold my breath, but maybe.