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XTimes 1.05-Poll-Ticks

I don’t remember the part of American history where the Founding Fathers ran daily polls to determine the up-to-the-moment opinion of the nascent electorate. Polls in those days would have taken months, results out-dated long before they could be tallied and summarized, let alone interpreted. So, the Founding Citizens selected Founding Fathers by a radically different process than popular election. Our country was founded upon representative selection instead.

In a representative government, individuals use popular voting to select individuals to represent their interests at the time. Interests could and did shift over time, so elections were based upon something different from fleeting partisan perspectives. In those days, character mattered. One chose their representatives more based upon how they thought rather than what they thought. This one principle might explain how a rabble of an electorate managed to select such timelessly thoughtful individuals.

Today, of course, everyone seems addicted to the daily poll results to determine what they should be thinking, and few, it seems from here, concern themselves with how thoughtful any representative might be. Anyone able to deftly hop from one hotfooted stance to another to maintain popularity wins. Anyone half as thoughtful as the least of the Founding Fathers risks being perceived as pedantic. Pedantic was no more popular in Junior High School than it is in the halls of our Congress today.

Founding Fathers could quote Shakespeare from memory. Today’s pols quote Dr. Seuss, though they have to read THAT from the book. In today’s Poll-Ticks, nothing need be committed to memory or, indeed, qualify as memorable, since the overnights might render yesterday’s pithiness into this morning’s apricot pit. Facts, which in the distant past, mattered, have been replaced with ‘scare factics,’ talking points carefully crafted to influence tonight’s public opinion. The dark tools of public manipulation replace the guiding lights leftover from the Enlightenment. Smart, or, more important, the appearance of smart, trumps today.

Character doesn’t seem to matter to the thoroughly modern PollTicktion, who merely mugs at funhouse mirrors. The design industry has long held that asking the customer at best serves to influence otherwise brilliant designers to produce what could never delight any customer. The customer doesn’t know what she wants because she wants to be surprised with delight, and eliciting that response requires more than placating to mere momentary popular opinion. It requires thoughtful perspective, inspiration, and a deeper appreciation of the laws of form than any naive consumer could muster.

Same story, I suspect with the design of political responses. The great legislators of our past possessed that now rare ability to integrate and invent in the absence of an endlessly helicoptering electorate. They figured, I guess, that they were not elected to please but to resolve, expecting that resolution produced greater satisfaction than short term candy-and-gum pleasing ever could.

What would the Founding Fathers think of our sugar-coated politics? I’m confident they would be as appalled as the morning poll numbers say todays electorate is.

Do not tell me what you think. That should and will be shifting, no foundation for building any lasting construction. Tell me how you think, share your reasoning, give me a peek at your thoughtfulness. The Enlightenment which informed the Founding Fathers insisted upon a way of thinking that revolutionized the political world. It required a certain faith in the ability of thoughtful people to resolve most any difficulty. It did not anticipate the day when morning poll results spread fresh sand beneath any republic’s emerging constructions.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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