Ok, so I promised a few people to throw it up. Its a small essay I got published in the Student Newspaper with. No great accomplishment, but it *is* my first published piece, not counting the scrambled memory recoolections I made for the J-Bird back in the day. I dont like it much, the end especially comes off as melodramatic, but I figured Id let you all read it as it appeared in the paper before I edit it.
Iíve fallen in love with a scholar named Nabokov. He stated in retrospective on European prose fiction, the kind before the paragraph, that Ďliterature started when a boy yelled wolf, and there was no wolf.í The downfall of modern society started when that story needed carriage returns and indents to tell. There is no longer an artistry being transferred from the artistís quill to the paper, there is utilitarian garbage. Take a look at some of the best speeches in American history. Lincoln for one. The Gettysburg Address. He wrote this on the train to the battlefield, unaware of whether the union had prevailed or lost. This piece of flowing prose proceeds elegantly for three pages, running like how a brook runs over stones in its path, seeming to find itís way by sheer force of nature. The address canít be cut up without destroying its natural beauty, even after textbooks have tried for decades. This kind of speech was common in those days. Jefferson had amazing speeches under his presidency. The paragraph was the start of our nation getting lazy. Newspapers didnít want to print entire speeches. People had busy lives and could no longer spare the time to read an entire piece. So enter the paragraph. It knocks ideas into neatly ordered, boring boxes. It condensed ideas to the minimum. And suddenly you had excerpts that people wanted to read. It was the 19th century version of the sound bite. It was the beginning of the end for political speech as an art form. And the rest of literature would soon follow. Speeches were no longer written to command attention, to spur hearts and minds to action. For the first time since the founding fathers had recognized that the masses werenít the most intelligent bunch, their fears were realized. Now positions and ideas, once well conceived, well reasoned, and above all, sound, were designed to be chopped piecemeal so certain sections could be shown to certain groups who were not concerned with other aspects of a candidates position. For the first time in American politics, you had candidates who meant different things to different people, who made promises they could not keep because they contradicted with promises made to dozens of other groups. The paragraph, in a very real way, is directly responsible for the special interest and lobby groups we see today. If you have a firm grasp of history, there is a link between almost every evil in American culture today that can be traced back to the paragraph. The simple fact is that until our leaders, the people we elect, and the people who just seem to attract others to them, until you force these people to present themselves as a whole package, until you deny them convenient promises that contradict other convenient promises, until you, the public citizen, demand their entire platform, every time, without that scoundrel of literature the paragraph, only then can you hope to get decent people in positions of power. The founding fathers knew things like this would happen. They knew the masses were lazy, and getting lazier. They took pains to make sure that the nation would be insulated from these people for as long as possible. Contrary to what the current president likes to say, this country is not a democracy, was never intended to be a democracy, and I, for one, am glad this is the case. Sure, public will was supposed to guide the country, but they wanted a safeguard. The Electoral College. It really is one of the most insightful, ingenious ideas ever to grace this earth. The electors for a candidate are chosen by that candidate, and are supposed to represent the best a state has to offer in terms of education and ability, and you vote for them. They, in turn, vote for the choice they want. Sure, since the candidate chooses them, they will almost always vote for the winning candidate. But if something goes wrong, if thereís fraud, if there are questions, these people are supposed to be able to take a look not at the popular vote, but whom they think deserves to run the country. This has happened twice in the last two elections. An elector last year, disgusted at Kerry, cast a presidential vote for Edwards. And in 2000, a DC elector, in a symbolic vote to protest lack of statehood cast a vote for the candidate he thought would accomplish that goal. He cast a blank ballot. There a quite a few people who want to do away with the electoral college, they think that they are prepared to self-govern, to elect their president. In the age of the paragraph, I pray to God that these people will fail each and every time. Modern politics has degenerated into such a cesspool that even the Electoral College has struggled to pick the best. Lobbyists own congressmen, senators are in the pocket of businesses. Where is our role model? My generation has no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. No one watched Bullworth or Wag the Dog. Why? Because they are lazy, selfish people. Iím fine with limiting central government. I want power to reside at the state level, maybe even local level. But people are not upholding their level of government over a far away, out of touch government, their holding their concerns over the whole of their communities. Sure, once in a while, your concerns are what are in the communityís best interest, but itís not every damn time. You are not special. You are part of a larger machine, and itís time you got out of your damn selfish shell and see that. Demand whole platforms from your candidates, demand platforms that make sense. Donít settle for sound bites; donít reduce your thought about a candidate to a paragraph. Do not settle for this country, your state, your town being a footnote. If no one will rise to your challenge, take it into your own hands. You will not succeed, but try. Show people the career politician, the empty promises, are not what we should be expecting. People talk about government as this far off entity that happens to them. Jefferson had a dream in mind when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution. A dream that was, remarkably, similar to Martin Luther King Jr.ís dream. He dreamt that you would fill the seats of government in this country. By me. By anyone who had the correct idea about how to run this nation, and could get people to believe in this idea. If you donít stand up to these people, who will? Shape your own future, shape my future, and shape our future. Anyone who can come up with an idea that canít be broken up, an idea that is magical in itís prose, thatís elegant in itís solution, thatís the right thing, will have my vote. Donít reduce yourself to falling for a sound bite, to believing that a paragraph is all you need.