September 19, 2023 at 6:39 p.m.
Lettter To The Editor
Here We Go Again With Mixed Signals And Second Thoughts
It seems like four years is such a short time span when we start talking about the Presidential elections. It seems like it is happening earlier and earlier. Almost as bad as when stores start putting out Christmas decorations in August. For crying out loud, we are in the midst of a heat wave! Why have tinsel, fake snow, and jungle bells? Now back to the elections.
Americans have always loved satire. In fact the First Amendment ‘s free speech protections allows us to poke fun or even anger our politicians by satire and parody. It seems like the election season brings this out a hundredth fold. You see satirical pieces daily in both the print and social media. Even in colonial times, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams posted satirical cartoons of their opponents in the newspapers during the 1800 campaign. Satire is usually some truth and get voters to engage in both civic and argumentative political dialogue over a politician’s platform. In early Greece, Aristotle said about political satire that it “laughs folly out of existence”. In other words, satire regarding a politician’s bad behavior will usually shame the politician to refrain from repeating the behavior. Therefore, satire can have some redeeming qualities.
When Andrew Jackson ran for President, his opponents hung a single sheet cartoon in taverns that depicted him as a ruthless dictator. One such cartoon had him pictured as a king stomping on the U.S. Constitution. Satirist have also brought changes in the name of justice. Cartoonist Thomas Nash of Harper’s Weekly depicted William “Boss” Tweed with a money bag as his head. Tweed ha\d extorted more than $2 billion dollars (today’s value) in public funds. This brought his crime into the forefront and lead top his conviction.
Since its debut on October 11, 1975, Saturday Night Live (SNL) has been noted for their satire of politicians. With the 2024 elections, I am certain that there is much fodder for satire on politicians from both of our major political parties. Although SNL has been in hiatus due to writer’s strike, we needed not worry. We can expect to be bombarded with political satire from newspapers, internet, and radio/television. This election season will be no different.
As you ponder which candidate legally cast your vote in the next Presidential elections slightly over 13 months away, I encourage you to reflect on questions and sentiments from four of former Presidents, and our current President. President John F. Kennedy said “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” During the 1980 Presidential debates, Ronald Reagan posed one of the most important questions all times to his opponent President Jimmy Carter “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” President Carter’s answer was a resounding “No” and in the final, crucial days of the campaign tanked. In 1992, presidential candidate, Bill Clinton, famously told an activist who was heckling him at a political rally, “I feel your pain” His statement quickly entered the vernacular as a cliché expression for sympathy and empathy. “How is Bidenomics working for you with exorbitant prices for gasoline, groceries, higher interest rates on borrowers, etc.?”
Robert A. Tomlinson