Friday, April 15, 2011
This is an observation that is now conventional wisdom -- the era of big government is over. Left unspoken is how the sea change of public opinion occurred. When I was a youth, big government was the answer along with large infrastructure projects -- highway systems, dams, housing complexes for the poor. There was plenty of cash from Washington and plenty of free spending. Slowly, as the debt of the country climbed that began to change. Today, the mood of millions of citizens is to cut debt rather than spend more. From a PR perspective, it would be a fascinating case study to track the change of opinion and the forces that enabled it. Most commentators assign the beginning of the change to Ronald Reagan, but one could also say that Barry Goldwater set the scene, even though he was crushed as a presidential candidate. There were many players working together and independently who help chip away at public opinion. It will be a career for historians to find them all.