'Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing': The Direct-Mail Poetry of Election 2012, Cont.

By Andrew Cohen

Our heroic Election 2012 pamphlet epic, part two

andrewpoem2ban.jpg
Andrew Cohen

The worldwide success of my initial foray into campaign-pamphlet poetry compels me here to offer a new (and final) set of verse marking the looming end of this election season, a tense, uncertain period of relentless political advertising and partisan invective. I live in a swing state, and, like tens of millions of other frustrated Americans, I have physical proof (see above) of the deluge of political junk mail this year, the first presidential campaign following the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling.

What's striking about all these mailings isn't just the level of vitriol (and the poor grammar). It isn't just the cognitive dissonance inherent in, say, a local Republican flyer this cycle blasting a Democratic candidate for hiding assets in offshore accounts. It's not the fact that so many of them, at least in my neck of the woods, seem to have had tax troubles. It's the sameness of it all. Here is literal proof that they really do all sound alike, these neighbors and fellow citizens asking us to trust them with our government.

Imagine a world without these flyers. Imagine a world where the money spent on these intrusive little missives of hate, millions of dollars all around the country, were spent instead on those few remaining things we can agree on -- like providing our returning troops with better mental health care and job training. That's what I hope to dream about in the few remaining sleeps left before all the noise ends. What follows comes directly from the text of actual fliers I've received in the past few weeks.


Sick and tired of politicians who lie through their teeth trying to win an election?
Forget the Negative Ads. Here is what I will do for [our state].
Making our future brighter by improving our economy.
Experience that Counts. Accomplishments that make a Difference.
Believe in a better tomorrow

Pay your taxes, [politician]
Shame on you, [politician]
Does [politician] have a vendetta against our schools?
Does [politician] have no shame?
Did you know that [politician] sponsored legislation allowing government to sell your private health information?

In tough times middle-class families need to know who's on their side.
Politics is about "give and take."
We're on Shaky Ground
How long have we been waiting for a better economy and more jobs?
Put me to work for you.

[Politician] doesn't care about anyone but himself.
[Politician] is part of the culture that is ruining our economy
[Politician] puts bureaucrats before the middle class.
[Politician]: not in it for himself.
[Politician]: A Husband and Father Who Fights to Protect Our Families

Would you trust an accountant with tax liens to do your taxes?
Did you approve a $1,400 annual tax increase on your family?
Some people hide money under the mattress... But [politician] hides his money in foreign countries and dodges taxes.
In Chicago, Al Capone was put behind bars for not paying taxes... In [our state], [politician] is in the State Senate. She failed to pay her taxes.

Sally works for a private company. Mike works for the government. [Politician] treats them differently.
Today, [politician]'s spending is in full bloom; tomorrow our children's future will be wilting away.
[Politician] voted to support her campaign contributors and put our children at risk.
[Politician] left child predators on our streets.
[Politician] is the latest public figure to come under fire for mistreating his dogs.

Our children's safety betrayed for a campaign contribution,
Like pirates of old, he hides money in foreign lands ...
Lobbyists' money. Dirty campaign funds, Favors for family.
Our children's safety betrayed for a campaign contribution.
Good thing you're smarter than they think you are.

Been receiving your own political verse through the mail? Pass it along in the comments and we'll see if we can't come up with a national version of my local edition.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10/sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing-the-direct-mail-poetry-of-election-2012-cont/264187/