EDUCATION & FAIRNESS PLAY THEIR PARTS
When I was in public school “Civics” was a required course while American History courses accompanied that requirement. I still remember the major point my Civics teacher emphasized over and over again: “Vote for the man (sic) and not the party!” (As a point of interest, in the first twelve Presidential elections in which I was eligible to vote, I voted six times for a Republican and six times for a Democrat. I had learned that lesson well.)
Were we still following that advice (first advocated by George Washington) we would not be awash in the repugnant mess America finds itself mired in today.
Until the 1960s, it was not uncommon for American high school students to have three separate courses in civics and government. But civics offerings were slashed as the curriculum narrowed, hastened in its demise by the “No Child Left Behind” and “STEM” movements.
The loss of civics as a given for an American child’s education, combined with the repeal of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, have weakened our democracy and made it more difficult for Americans to understand both the history of our country’s governing system plus almost eliminated a typical individual’s ability to understand both sides of any political issue — unless they have scads of free channel-switching time at their disposal.
Let’s look at the civics issue first:
The other issue that has weakened our ability as citizens to be well informed on issues critical to the continued success of our republic, is the FCC repeal of the Fairness Act three decades ago.
“The fairness doctrine of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, was a policy that required the holders of broadcast licenses both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the FCC’s view—honest, equitable, and balanced.” (Wikipedia)
Unfortunately, it was repealed almost forty years later by a 4-0 FCC vote (three Ronald Regan appointees and one appointed by Richard Nixon). Several times, Congress has failed to reinstate it.
And, it goes without saying, killing the Fairness Act opened the doors to broadcasting entities like Fox News and MSNBC plus the large number of radio stations that provide single-slant programming for “The Rush Limbaugh Show” and others.
There you have it. Is it any wonder that our nation has become so polarized and overrun with rancorous personal attacks, half-truths and outright lies?
Like me, you may have sufficient time to keep yourself educated about the “news of the day,” “the candidates on both sides” and the world we live in. But, the majority of hard working Americans do not have the luxury of that spare time. For the most part, they rely on one television channel, one radio station and, consequently, a single point of view.
This is dangerous for our republic and certainly results in much of the vitriol and the almost endless prevarications we witness every day. (And as you well know, more than one politician takes cynical advantage of it all — to the detriment of our nation and its future.)
Americans are a smart and fair minded people. A return to responsible civics instruction and a meaningful new Fairness Doctrine would alleviate many of our current political ills. And, above all, it would strengthen the fabric of our unique American experiment.
More on Wednesday – – –
— Bill Walton, co-Founder, ITC Learning
October 29, 2018
www.itclearning.com/blog/ (Mondays & Wednesdays)
“THE WORLD RELIES ON THE HANDS OF ITS MEN AND WOMEN”