At the Tucson memorial service, President Obama eloquently emphasized the importance of civility in public discourse. One of his best speeches, perhaps his magnum opus, it resonated in our collective consciousness. Our president became the healer-in chief, governing in poetry.
Governing in poetry doesn’t ensure measured debate, but opposing lawmakers co-mingling at the State of the Union address provides a rhythmic opening stanza.
Our founding fathers, who prescribed the State of the Union address, recognized the human spirit’s need for freedom. Consider their seminal treatise on individual liberty – The Declaration of Independence. It waxes poetic, affirming for the first time in history that the “pursuit of happiness” is a fundamental human right, along with life and liberty.
Poetry best conveys the full gamut of human emotions, which is why in a free society it’s so important to govern in poetry. Like the lyrical “Star Spangled Banner,” it’s the thread that weaves our personal emotions into national consciousness. We may still have some bawdy verse, plenty of satire and a little burlesque, but if we can ever say that the State of the Union is poetic then we are truly worthy of the governance bequeathed by our founders.