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'Not Just for Wimps'

November 01, 1987

As your editorial "Not Just for Wimps" (Oct. 25) so eloquently stated, something is very wrong with America when, according to Forbes magazine, the 400 richest Americans increased their personal wealth by 40% in one year, while at the same time libraries were closed for lack of money. How can this democracy continue with an increasingly illiterate and apathetic populace? It can't.

In 1836 Alexis de Tocqueville traveled across the United States in search of the essence of democracy in America. Fortunately, he departed this life long before the advent of the television age. I can only imagine how sad he would be if he saw what this invention has done to the electoral process. Since its birth only three things are important in an election: the candidate's appearance, voice and a simple positive positive message. There is no need to tell the truth; the last thing the electorate wants to hear are the facts. They want to be reassured and sentimental phrases will suffice. "It's morning in America." "America . . . a bright and shining city on a hill." "Go ahead, make my day."

This is a sad indication of what is important to the American people. The majority have made a conscious decision to remain uninformed. They would rather be entertained than educated. Sadly, these values are being passed on to the next generation.

It is obvious that knowledge is not important to the majority of the American people or to the President. In 1980 Reagan told us that he could cut taxes 30%, increase defense spending and still balance the budget in four years. He called it the Reagan revolution. George Bush called it "voodoo economics." Did the people listen? No. This uninformed electorate decided to give two landslide victories to a willfully uninformed candidate who knew he was lying.

It will take more than wishful thinking and the President's TelePrompter skills to get America out of the mess it's in. Americans must decide they want more than to be just entertained, they must want to be educated and informed. A sound democracy demands it. When they make their decision, with any luck, there will still be newspapers and neighborhood libraries for them to use.

JACK GREGSON

Riverside

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