I'm a fairly positive person. And I'm married to one of the most optimistic people I've ever met. But lately I've been feeling down. Over the past two years, we've gone from hope, to hate, to hopelessness.
Right wing radio...or, as I unaffectionately call it, Militia Radio, rules the land. Most people I know either don't follow politics at all, or are talk radio and Fake News fans. They spew out all the talking points with such venom, it's scary.
Hope....where is it? Every freakin day I go looking for it but I can't find it anywhere. Hate, racism and negativity are everywhere.
These are troubling times. People are wondering...Will I ever work again? Will they take away my social security? Will my kids even get social security? Will my savings be stolen by Wall Street? Will my wages ever go up? Will my children ever have the lifestyle I once had? Will they ever get to use their college degree? War, when is it going to be over? The oil spill, sigh. Climate change?
We're weary. And scared. And confused by the barrage of opinions on the "news". We're looking for leadership. I'm a history buff. I know we've been though worse and we'll come out of this. But still, I go to bed many nights feeling anxious. And I also know that times like this can lead to horribly cruel human actions.
Tonight I got an email from a friend. This friend and I, although no longer as close as we used to be, were emailing back and forth about Sarah before the election. She voted for Hillary, then Obama. But today she sent me a disturbing email about the mosque being built in New York. Gist of it being that all muslims have hate in their hearts and just want to kill us. My cousin, who hated Bush and voted for Obama, now listens to Alex Jones, doesn't even believe there was a financial collapse (it's a government plot!) and hates Obama. My brother-in-law, lifelong liberal, sent a racist anti-immigrant e-mail. Yeah, my brother-in-law, uncle to my child, adopted at 10 months old from Korea. And on and on.
Two years ago, my husband and I visited the Churchhill Museum and Cabinet War Rooms (CWR) in London. While London was being bombed, Churchill directed the war from the British government's secret underground shelter. He delivered four of his wartime speeches from the CWR including his September 11, 1940 speech warning of Hitler's plans to wage war against the UK. Listening to the speeches piped in overhead, brought back memories of history lessons and a yearning for something similar from our leaders. My husband had tears in his eyes.
We have an enemy within. Rush Limbaugh and Fake News and all the other racist media buffoons (although buffoon is too kind a word!). Churchill said "There is only one thing worse than fighting with allies, and that is fighting without them". We are trying to fix this mess with no help at all from the irresponsible, unpatriotic republican party that created it.
He also said "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile hoping it will eat him last."
and "Evils can be created much quicker than they can be cured."
Years later, John F. Kennedy said Churchill "mobilized the English language and sent it into battle". Meanwhile, on our side of the Atlantic, Roosevelt gave war-weary Americans Fireside Chats.
From the Museum of Broadcast Communications,
In order to attract a peak national audience, the Chats were broadcast on all national networks around 10:00 p.m. Eastern time -- early enough that Easterners were still awake but late enough that even people on the West Coast would be home from work.
The Chats were relatively brief, ranging in length from fifteen to forty-five minutes. In addition, FDR and his speechwriters always used basic language when preparing the Fireside Chats. Eighty percent of the words FDR chose were among the 1000 most commonly used words in the English vocabulary.
He also relied on stories, anecdotes, and analogies to explain the complex issues facing the country. For example, he used a baseball analogy to describe the first two months of the New Deal: "I have no expectations of making a hit every time I come to bat. What I seek is the highest possible batting average, not only for myself, but for the team."
That was then, this is now. Now we have a Saturday radio address. And, I have a confession to make: I've never watched or heard a Saturday radio address. I'm a political and news junkie, but on Saturday morning I'm at the gym, doing yoga. As I pass the teevees going up the stairs, I see the president sitting in a chair talking. Then I go into yoga for an hour, then I run some errands, then I go home and straighten up the house. Then it's five o'clock and the last thing I want to do on a Saturday night is listen to the president...any president...talk. Enough already! And I'm sure many people feel the same...housework, yardwork, kid's soccer and baseball, etc.
So, to be fair, I went to WhiteHouse.gov and watched last Saturday's address. Five minutes of "The Greatest Orator of Our Time" looking pale and tired. He can do better! Put him in a different environment, where he can shine and smile and be more natural and charm the audience the way he does in a live speech!
According to Wikipedia...
A common complaint about the President's Weekly Radio Address is that only a few radio stations cover the very short broadcasts, they are not advertised publicly, and very few Americans know how to locate the President's Weekly Radio Address on the radio dial (so very few listen to it).
So, what made the fireside chats so popular, while the Saturday radio address is not? Again, Wikipedia:
According to Roosevelt’s principal speechwriter Judge Clinton Sorrel, he first used "fireside chats" in 1929 during his first term as Governor of New York. Roosevelt faced a conservative Republican legislature so during each legislative session he would occasionally address the citizens of New York directly in the camelback room. He appealed to them for help getting his agenda passed. Letters would pour in following each of these "chats," which helped pressure legislators to pass measures Roosevelt had proposed. He began making the informal addresses as President on March 12, 1933, during the Great Depression..
Here's a chronological list of Presidential fireside chats:
Notice anything? None, nada, zero were done on a Saturday!
Go straight to the people. They will come. They're yearning for answers and explanations, other than the doom and gloom we seem to see and hear everwhere. Yes, there will be ridicule, but do it anyway. It will grow, and it will be written about in future history books. We really, really need this, because Fake News has us all confused!
A video of one of Roosevelt's Fireside Chats:
If the last few days proved anything it's that Fox owns the dialogue now. Fake News wants us scared, wants us to go back to the past. Back to legal discrimination, racism, low wages and hatred, distrust, fear and loathing.
So, in closing, a plea to the 15th best president of the United States of America:
Take Saturday mornings off. Take your kids to their soccer games. Then, on a different day of the week, channel your inner FDR and talk to the American people in a forum where you can shine. Where your sunny personality and optimism can change the tone and remind everybody that "Evils can be created much quicker than they can be cured."