There never was a golden age of polite discourse in American politics, a sad truth borne out by even cursory study of the libelous pamphleteers who helped found the Republic, the violent secessionists who tried to rip it apart and the campaign tactics of Jesse Helms.
Yet we seem to be reaching a new low in the way we speak to each other, except in terms of volume, which defined as either the amount of blather or the noise level thereof continues to hit new highs. On television and the Web, talk radio and the pages of newspapers, multiplex screens and the Senate floor, the art of persuasion has given way to bluster and tirade.
Well, if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right, so I'm offering up this guide to modern political speech. It's a bipartisan, multimedia template that works for any point of view on the partisan spectrum, in any venue. Forget talking points -- these are shouting points. Repeat after me:
I am right, and you are wrong.
You are not just wrong, you and those like you are intellectually insufficient and morally suspect. Why do you hate our country? Think of the children. God said to tell you that he is not pleased.
Stop interrupting me while I'm shouting. Feel the crushing weight of my arguments, which are built on logic and constructed from facts that are sturdy and sound. You just whine about how you feel.
Your information is flawed because it came from a source I know to be aligned with the forces of darkness. I am able to parse the media and edit what I see for bias and spin, while you are a gullible sap who believes everything you see on the TV or read in that wholly discredited rag you just quoted.
You speak in cliches, slogans and sound bites. I speak in pithy phrases and time-tested words of wisdom. You call names, I tell it like it is. You are vulgar, I am colorful.
My candidate is a hero. Yours is a zero. One cannot compare the youthful hijinks of my guy with the youthful wantonness of yours. My guy makes mistakes, yours commits sins of the worst kind. And likes it. My guy was misquoted, or simply misspoke, while your guy was caught on tape saying exactly what I expected him to say.
The mainstream flows right by my house while you live somewhere way out past the flood plain with the other weirdos. You are not in touch with the values of America, which I and those like me just happen to exemplify. You and your ilk have poisoned the culture, and I know the antidote.
The celebrities who celebrate your point of view are pinheads to whom we should pay no attention whatsoever. The celebrities who celebrate my point of view are concerned citizens who have done their homework and speak from the heart.
The most extreme example or action of an individual who agrees with any idea or position you favor will do just fine as a representation of your actual ideas or positions. The most extreme example of anyone or anything associated with my ideology shows that inclusiveness is a vital part of our message.
Your economic outlook is really a call for class warfare. You would bankrupt the country and sell the parts at auction.
Read the Constitution. It clearly shows whatever it is that I want it to show. Context, schmontext. A nugget, a morsel, a soundbite plucked from any source can serve to make my point. Your copy of the Bill of Rights is missing a few. The flag waves for me; tremble in its shadow.
Your attempt at humor reveals your narrow-minded bigotry. Your reaction to my own attempt at humor shows that you cannot take a joke.
I disagree with what you say, and I will defend to the death my right to tell you so. Jerk.