Throwing Down the Gauntlet
Like many of you, I often find myself following American politics with dismay. These days, it seems that whenever I turn on the television, open the newspaper or receive a telephone call from my good friend Barack Obama, I am treated to bickering. The tone of politics in our country seems increasingly wont to degenerate into petulance. With each passing day, I find myself asking more and more: would not this system be greatly improved if its participants, over any disagreement, could legally shoot the other in the face?
I am talking, of course, about the great American pastime: dueling. Though it has decreased in popularity in recent years, I believe that the time is ripe for its comeback. As I recall, this wonderful form of conflict resolution fell out of favor after the famous Nixon-Kennedy televised debate. My history is a bit rusty, but I am fairly certain that Kennedy shot Nixon 26 times in the chest with an elephant gun after Nixon angrily yelled a slur against the Irish. This was seen as "poor form."
But friends, we need real change. Politicians have stepped up every election, claiming to be the voice of this change. And we, like fools, elect them. We helplessly watch them waste our money on kickbacks, pork barrel spending and the FDA. One of the very building blocks of our nation, written for all to see in the Declaration of Constitutions or whatever it's called, is the concept of checks and balances. These checks and balances have worked very well for our nation, but I believe we need more. Specifically, I would like to see the "check and balance" of congresspersons being scared to break election promises because they might have to defend themselves on the field of honor.
Picture it: a congressman makes a snide remark about another congressman's policies, family history or the fact that the latter congressman is worried that an island will tip over and capsize. The latter would not hold a press conference feigning outrage. He would not leak a story to the papers about the former's infidelities with interns. He would calmly go to his desk drawer, remove his flintlock dueling pistols from their velvet insets and pen a letter to the offender challenging him to a gentleman's duel.
But don't take my word for it. Former senator of Georgia, Zell Miller, expressed interest in such a program after the 2004 Republican National Convention. Former vice president Dick Cheney expressed interest in such a program when he filled Harry Whittington's chest and face with birdshot. And I have spoken with many people who seem to favor Sarah Palin getting in as many duels as possible.
There are critics of this new age of dueling. There are those who point out that, with advances in weapon accuracy and reliability since the 1820's, every duel would end in murder. To these people, I ask: do I seem like a monster? I am not a butcher. I am not in favor of Congress dueling itself to extinction. I offer two options, to be decided by the duelists themselves. First: period equipment. The duelists could only use weaponry available between 1750 and 1820. The danger level would be appropriate, and we would all learn a little something about the history of this great nation. Or, we could simply use tranquilizer guns. The danger level would be minimal (except for the elderly!), and each party would have a chance at vindication.
If history has taught us anything, it is that dueling is a fantastic idea. I can think of no other form of conflict resolution that does so with such speed and finality. Plus, C-SPAN would see a sharp increase in ratings once it started televising duels.
I hope that Congress strongly considers passing legislation that decriminalizes dueling soon. I am getting sick and tired of watching politicians use words to resolve their disagreements peacefully.