Many of us wondered in 2008 how the public could vote for Barack Obama based on the simple, vague slogan, “Hope and Change.” Now we are equally perplexed at the one-third of the GOP voters who are buying into Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. I’ve come to the conclusion that the public likes fill-in-the-blanks candidates; they flock to someone who promises that they will make things happen. They don’t stop to ask what will be changed or how will greatness be achieved. The public then molds that vague promise — fills-in-the-blanks — into whatever shape they (as individuals) need for it to take.
A candidate who sounds confident and strong while offering up big-sounding promises captured in colorful soundbites (instead of boring policy) captures the fancy of both the media and the public. Simple rhetoric from a carefully staged rally is easier for today’s media-conditioned public to grasp than thinking through and weighing the arguments logically, rationally, and realistically. Projecting our own images onto someone’s slogan is easier than evaluating what the candidate is saying or the possibility of a candidate actually achieving the promised change.
A video is making the rounds on Facebook with a political science student conducting on-campus “man on the street” interviews asking fellow students questions about historical and contemporary facts. The ignorance is not just astounding, it is positively painful to see. Then, the interviewer asks the students contemporary pop culture questions and every student — as best we can tell from the film clip — answers correctly. Given our celebrity-fixated culture and the state of today’s education, dominated as it is by political correctness and progressive ideology, should anyone be surprised that the average college student can tell you the names both of Brad Pitt’s current and his previous wife but doesn’t know who won the Civil War?
The latest Oscar ceremony had the lowest viewership in eight years, but that was still an audience of 37.3 million viewers. In contrast, the latest television debate of the GOP candidates had 13.5 million viewers, down from a record-setting 24 million back in August of 2015. Obviously, the American public is far more interested in seeing Hollywood glamour than in listening to and evaluating the various presidential candidates as they debate policy issues.
We are reaping a predictable, inevitable whirlwind from disastrous disintegration from within and destructive attacks from the outside.
- Do we really think we can substitute fluff and nonsense for solid core curriculum and not pay a heavy price in terms of lacking an informed citizenry with good judgment and discerning temperament?
- Do we really think American students can compete in a world market when their education was focused on feeling good instead of rigorous learning?
- Do we really think our college students will be prepared to enter the real world after four years of marinating their brains on alcohol and meaningless, casual sex?
- Do we really think that we can coddle our kids, give them everything they want, expect nothing from them and not realize they will turn out to be self-centered and unprepared for productive adulthood?
- Do we really think we can skip church, provide no ethical training, let our kids watch television 3-6 hours a day and not have them absorb secular ethics and be bereft of traditional values and common courtesy?
- Do we think that we can discard the virtues — chastity, honesty, fidelity, etc. — and produce upstanding adults who grow up, marry, have families, become productive, involved citizens and community leaders?
- Do we think we can have entertainment filled with misogyny, denigration of marriage and traditional values and retain a society that respects life, marriage and family — the bedrock of our society?
- Do we think we can have a culture that makes fun of the faithful, caricatures pastors and those in ministry, disregards the Sabbath, tramples on religious liberty and think that we can remain a strong nation with freedom and opportunity for its people?
- Do we think adults can live inauthentic lives and children not notice?
- Do we think our society can substitute Hollywood actors with decadent lifestyles living decadent lives for models of decency, honor, and fidelity and not pay an exorbitant price in terms of the nation’s future?
These are, of course, questions that answer themselves. But though they need no answers, they do point us to the predicament we face having bought into the lies of progressivism that the old ways and traditional moral principles can be set aside and replaced with whatever whim of the moment seems desirable.
Eve was certainly not the last to throw away Paradise for what seemed on the surface to offer gratification of some trivial desire.