It’s bizarre how politicians promote alternative realities, expecting us to buy in. I was listening to a podcast by Ezra Klein addressing reality distortion, which he says is a given in the old Soviet Union but is (surprise, surprise!) now quite the norm in two of the biggest anti-communist countries, the UK and the US.
Klein takes the view that spin doctors and politicians do not control information by throttling it, but by shaping it. (1989 is the anniversary of the victory of freedom of information over censorship, he reminds us – speaking of the collapse of communism and the Wall.)
Just like Klein, another ‘philosopher’ by the name of Bruce Springsteen (!) made a similar observation, back in 1984. I made me want to revisit that interview of Springsteen by Rolling Stone magazine. To the question about the Boss’ response to president Ronald Reagan invoking his name when visiting New Jersey, Springsteen had this to say:
“I think what’s happening now is people want to forget. There was Vietnam, there was Watergate, there was Iran – we were beaten, we were hustled, and then we were humiliated. And I think people got a need to feel good about the country they live in. But what’s happening, I think, is that that need – which is a good thing – is gettin’ manipulated and exploited. And you see the Reagan reelection ads on TV – you know: “It’s morning in America.” And you say, well, it’s not morning in Pittsburgh. It’s not morning above 125th Street in New York. It’s midnight, and, like, there’s a bad moon risin’. And that’s why when Reagan mentioned my name in New Jersey, I felt it was another manipulation, and I had to disassociate myself from the president’s kind words.
In hindsight, the beautifully crafted campaign ad, “It’s morning in America“ seems like the kind of place we want to go back to. Except it was a distorted mirror. I wonder what the boss would say about the present batch of ads and sound bytes.