The Price Is Untenable

Scene: A walk-in clinic in Yonkers. In the waiting area are more than a dozen patients, most glued to their smartphones, as live coverage of a Mitt Romney speech goes unwatched on a flat-screen TV. 

Clearly agitated, one of the patients gets up and screams at the receptionist: “Get this crap off the TV,” demanding she change the station to Channel 2.

The receptionist politely declines, saying she can’t just change the channel because others are watching. But the man insists: “Nobody wants to hear this g-d*mn bullsh*t anymore.”

No one in the room speaks up, and the receptionist changes the TV to Channel 2 and “The Price is Right.” Every head in the waiting room lifts up and eyes lock on to the screen, as an announcer shouts: “Valerie, what three words do you want to hear right now? A new car!”

The scene is real and I watched it play out last Friday.

I wish our representatives in Washington would have seen the same. Because vast numbers of people—from both parties—are literally turning off to the issues of the day, because they’ve lost faith that anyone in our government is competent enough to address them.

The price of that kind of public disengagement is far from right. In fact, it is untenable. We can’t afford to have the 2012 election’s “Yes We Can” get drowned out by “Come on Down.”