Ronald Reagan, God rest his soul, left this country a lot of things; old movies, his cowboy image, the beginning of deregulation and sound bites. No, Reagan didn’t invent them, but he knew how to use them better than anyone that came before him in our history. Who can forget the 1980 election when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan were neck and neck heading for the November 4th election day? And, then, they had one last debate. Carter, armed with facts, finished answering a question about healthcare in his Georgian drawl. The moderator said, “Governor?” to Reagan and our country changed forever. Reagan’s response, “There you go again.”
Four words, that’s all Reagan said and the politics in the nation, the debates on things that mattered were no longer the same.
I’m sure Reagan couldn’t have known that thirty years later his “There you go again” would have set a very scary precedence. We no longer get facts in our debates. Candidates come up with catch phrases to win (and sometimes lose) elections and influence us. From Reagan’s “Morning in America” to Bush I’s “thousand points of light” to Clinton’s “It’s the economy, stupid” and beyond, we’ve become a nation of sound bites. We, as a people, don’t really know what’s going on anymore. We pay attention to the sound bites and to the commentators that have risen up in this 24 hour news nation like dandelions on my front lawn. We follow the loudest voices, like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, to the edge of nothingness like lemmings.
But, what has this cost us? What price have we paid?
We’ve lost some civility. We’ve lost a lot of common sense. People were surprised to find out that a lot of believers in the Tea Party are well-off, well educated people. I wasn’t. I have met enough well educated people who believe the most ridiculous things, like the trickle down theory actually works, to know that education doesn’t necessarily equate smarts and common sense.
Further, no one bothers to check the facts anymore. They just believe the commentator that best represents them. If they agree with Bill O’Reily 85% of the time, then whatever O’Reily says becomes Gospel to them. The same goes for a follower of Rachael Maddow or Keith whatever his last name is.
I could go on forever about this. I’ll probably write about this again. Our country is in real trouble because of our inability to get to the facts and make wise decisions. Today is Super Tuesday. Before you go out and vote, try to get to the facts to make a wise decision. Don’t vote for someone because of a soundbite.