First we had the sound bite. Important events and political decisions reduced to what you can say on camera in 15 seconds. I am a kind of good at that. I was Green Party state co-chair for 3 years and believe me the main stream media does not want to give the Green Party any more air time than necessary to appear unbiased (when they even care if they are appearing that way). So I got very practiced at short pithy answers to reporter’s questions. But sound bite politics is not good governance. It is great campaign material but when it comes to making the sausage, so to speak, it just does not cut it. More depth and concentration is needed to solve the complex problems that face us today.
So it has come to this. Political discussion reduced to 140 characters or less. Obama had a “tweet” with the country yesterday. And while the Tweeter executives and the technology pundits are all agog with delight at this development, frankly it gives me a big knot in my stomach. I get the part about involving more people in the discussion. More voices in the mix is a good thing. All I am asking is how far down the road of catering to the increasingly short attention span of the American public are we going to go?
I will grant that I am as big a fan of the concise as anyone. I keep a copy of Strunk and White (the illustrated edition) on my bedside table. But there is pithy and then there is just lame, under thought, superficial garbage that passes for political discourse.
Fortunately they did not limit Mr. Obama’s answers to 140 characters. So maybe the there is yet some hope.