23 March 2007

Non Sequitur - the Fashionable Language of Politics

It is time to set loose the jesters.

Today, the United States congress debated and passed a spending bill for our troops in Iraq. I can only conclude that the modern language of politics rests heavily on the non sequitur.

Republicans continue to make absurd statements like "If we don't defeat them there they will be fighting us on the streets of our towns and cities." Or, "We want to bring home the troops but not until the job is done." These Republicans have never defined what "done" looks like or offered honest measures of progress towards that definition. They don't even define "them," a vague label that may apply to Al Qaeda, Sunni militias, vengeful Shiites, or innocent civilians enraged by the behavior of occupation forces. The thought that insurgents in Baghdad will suddenly hop into cargo planes and fly across the Atlantic to invade our cities once we have stopped trying to police their civil war is so absurd as to suggest drug use. I'm sure that there is an argument for leaving troops indefinitely in Iraq, but from what I can tell no one shared that argument with House members.

The Democrats have, sadly, countered the Republican absurdities with their own. "This will end the war in Iraq," they say. And they stuffed the spending bill with so much unrelated spending that it reeks of legislative bribery. Worse, it suggests that the congress couldn't even end our misguided invasion and occupation without offering budgetary non sequiturs of their own - provisions for spinach farmers along with money for troops. The war in Iraq will not end as our troops withdraw - it is likely to intensify and may even result in slaughter that borders on genocide.

I don't know whether we're electing officials unable to follow a train of logic longer than a prepositional phrase or whether they think that we are the ones thus handicapped. In any case, I have a suggestion. A non-partisan philosopher, intellectually able and honest, should be seated on the floor of the House and be expected to hit a buzzer every time a politician makes a statement that has not been supported by facts or does not logically follow from previous statements. Either that or it is time to set jesters loose on the floor of Congress, giving these self-important politicians a fitting backdrop for spouting their non sequiturs.


Anonymous said...

Why not combine the two, and have a combination Jester/Philospher?

I'm picturing someone like Chris Rock in the middle of congress, with a buzzer and a microphone. (Sam Kinison would have been my first choice, but sadly he's no longer available.)

Ron Davison said...

That's actually a better idea. And it's true that great comedians change thinking at least as much as philosophers. It suddenly occurs to me that if we were to have such a role, the election for Jester / Philosopher would be the most closely watched of all. At least the stand up, I mean campaign speeches would be great fun.