Shifting the Frame of Reference

Jokes and poems are most effective when they shift our frame of reference. Prose, on the other hand generally follows a predictable arc from the opening paragraph that sets the thematic direction of the piece, moves onto make it’s points, cite it’s sources, pursue the logic of it’s position, and end in a summation of it’s truth.
I would make the case to day that politics and governance exhibit the same differences.
In the politics of trying to convince voters to make the “right choice”, that is to choose “you”, the candidate, in our current contests, keeps shifting the frame of reference from what people need to know to make informed decisions to what he wants them to know, in snippets if possible, in order to vote for him/her. Questions are not answered; they are used as launches to talking points. Everyone, and the media most of all, acknowledges this strategy, at times mentions it, on occasion mocks it, but does not really fault it.
Like older children listening to talk of Santa Claus, we nod, and smile, because it doesn’t really matter where our younger brothers and sisters think the presents come from; what matters is that they get under the tree in time of Christmas morning. The public nods and smiles at the antics of electioneering because it knows what really matters is what happens after the election, and that is governance.
But what if the politicians elected to govern, prose like, boring, but necessary, decide instead to go on shifting the frames of reference, to refuse the obligation to “work things out” and instead keep on posturing and pretending that they got elected as the first step towards getting re-elected. Governance is gone, and what comes next is the kind of crisis that will change the frame for all of us in ways we dare not imagine. stan smith

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