• Silver Linings in the Right Wing Clouds?

    • Posted on Nov 07, 1980
    11/7/80

    Nothing would be easier than to list the rotten consequences of last Tuesday's right-wing ouster of the liberals.

    Almost anyone can name them: the new know-nothings with their absurd simple-minded solutions, their insensitivity to the environment, their perverse need to build more bombs, their reverse Robin Hood philosophy of robbing the poor to give to the rich. 

    But that's too easy. Let's look instead at the bright spots. There are several: 
    —The New Left will be back, and soon. Extremism begets extremism, and already I've heard rumblings of a new Students for a Democratic Society chapter on the UNI campus. Another year and we'll have strikes, sit-ins, throw-ups, whatever. Excitement returns to the campuses of America after almost a decade of peace and quiet. 

    —My faith in the power of propaganda has been restored. For a while there I was sure that people were catching on to how special interest groups twist the truth. The anti-bottle bill people, for example, spent a fortune a couple of years ago on commercials that distorted the effect of the bottle bill. Iowans saw that campaign for what it was: the whining of the big bottlers.

    So  last week when those incredible anti-ERA ads came out, showing that homosexual marriages were part of what ERA would bring, I thought sure Iowans would see those ads for what they were, too: the bottlings of the big whiners. But they didn't, proving that propaganda still works. I've been thankfully undeceived.

     —Iowa will no longer puzzle Washington observers. Once upon a time, our senators belied the popular stereotype of the hayseed with manure on his shoes, if not his brain. Our senators were bright, compassionate, articulate, and they easily earned the admiration and respect of the other senators. Observers would marvel, "and they're from Iowa! That state's supposed to be such a hick place!" Now our senators won't confuse them at all. 

    —By 1984 we'll have the answer, thankfully, to the question: Can right-wing ideas actually work to run a country? The country has rejected such ideas until now. So we'll finally learn whether conservative politics work for the good of the many, or for the good of the conservatives. Place your bets folks, there on the right. But do not pass go or collect $200, yet. 

    —Finally, we can all be thankful for having seen the raw power of the stirred-up born-again crowd. If there was ever any doubt they are a force to be reckoned with, there's no doubt now. The Moral Majority will simply have to be combatted by those of us left in the Immoral Minority. We might not have known that without such a strong victory from such dark ages throwbacks. 

    And let's all remember it could have been worse. 

    We might have elected some ex-general with a heart condition who would play golf interminably. 

    Or a greasy crook whose main credentials were red-baiting and self-pity. 

    Or a nice uncle-type with a damaged head. 

    Indeed, given his party forbearers, Reagan doesn't look so bad. But of course neither would the Creature from the Black Lagoon, to use a candidate from Reagan's former profession. 

    Anyway, let us rejoice and be glad for these little silver linings in the great dark thunderhead from the right. With any luck, it'll blow away before it rains on us all. 


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  • Five Reasons Not to Vote--Refuted

    • Posted on Nov 04, 1980

    11/4/80

    One sure outcome of today's election will be the question, always asked the Wednesday after an American election: Why do so few Americans vote?

    Usually barely half of the eligible voters actually get off their cans and pull those levers. They have their reasons, all of them perfectly good. Here they are: 

    1. "It doesn't make any difference who wins-, they're all–the same-" Non-voters who say this are sure that Reagan, Carter, Anderson, Commoner, Clark, Harris, Doody, Mouse, Paulsen—whoever or whatever runs the country makes no substantive difference to their lives. What that means, of course, is that these non-voters must have no children, no homes, no cars, no taxes to pay, and no jobs. For clearly the president eventually directly affects what happens to our children, homes, etc., especially now that the human race has finally figured out how to do itself in. So stay home, non-voters, and let it happen. 

    2. "My vote doesn't count; what's one vote anyway?" That's a good one, too. Granted that one vote doesn't count much (though it's been known to win whole elections), but the non-voter never seems to wonder how much a non-vote counts. That's their privilege as free agents. More non-power to them. 

    3. "Neither of those turkeys deserves my vote, so I'll stay home." Right. But of course one of those gobblers will in fact be inaugurated in January, whether they deserve votes or not. So non-voters are obliged to hold their tongues when that non deserving bird turns out to be a lousy president. I hope they remember that better than they remember what they did all day today. 

    4. "I'm too busy to bother." Now this one wins second prize as an excuse. If only Patrick Henry had scrapped his rather overstated "Give me liberty or give me death" speech and instead yawned at his podium, "Damn it, I'm too busy to bother!" Then these non-voters would have their hero. As it is, I suppose they're too busy to have heroes. 

    5. Finally, the all-around great excuse, the prizewinner: "I don't care. None of it interests me." Good, good. These non-voters must spend a fortune on lower back pain remedies, since they spend all their time stooped over, their heads buried in the sand. But let them stay that way; at least their best part is up for all to see. 

    So if you happen to be not voting today, I understand your excuses. Do stay home; keep your busy head buried, your butt high.

    You may get a swat or two on Wednesday, as I say, but no one would call you responsible. 



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“Even before the advent of the Internet, Cawelti’s columns went 'viral' in the Cedar Valley… the role of a columnist is to be thought provoking, to take tacks that shed a different light on an issue or possibly cause a reader to reevaluate a position. At the very least, it should bring clarity to a particular perspective, whether you buy into the commentator’s worldview or not.

Scott's work does just that.  Enjoy this collection of his writing.”

-Saul Shapiro, Former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier Editor
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