The media has brought many important issues to life for the American public. For example, during the American civil rights movement, many areas of the country that had been hesitant to endorse full equality for African-Americans were horrified when they saw their fellow Americans being beaten simply for demanding their rights. The media was also highly influential in mobilizing the American public against the Vietnam War. Pictures showed more powerfully than words the terrible carnage and suffering generated by the conflict and the lack of progress that American military involvement was generating in Vietnam, despite the loss of many lives. Conversely, the media has also had a highly negative influence upon American opinion when it distorts the facts, such as when it inflamed opinion during the Spanish-American War and the McCarthy era, causing Americans to believe the propaganda disseminated in ostensibly objective venues.
The media can also have a more subtle negative influence in the manner in which it simplifies issues. While not out-and-out distortion, it can make the understanding of complicated questions like how to reform healthcare more difficult. Issues that are not sexy but are important, such as Social Security reform, often receive inadequate media coverage. And by presenting healthcare as a black-and-white choice between rationing vs. The status quo, many Americans have become reluctant to explore other ways of financing healthcare. When the media focuses on the personal rivalries between politicians, Americans are less also likely to learn about the issue itself, such as the diverse ways in which modern industrialized nations across the world provide more comprehensive healthcare to their citizens.
Q4. In at least two well-developed paragraphs, describe at least four factors that led to the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, the primary reason for the decline of the Soviet Union was the top-down revolution initiated by Gorbachev through glasnost and perestroika. The lagging Soviet economy, although serious, had been in a state of chronic malaise for many years. But even more distressing to Gorbachev was the corruption of the communist bureaucracy. The powerful Soviet government attempted to micromanage the entire economy and people's lives. Bribery had become a way of life, given that there were no capitalist incentives to provide what consumers needed or to encourage workers to produce. "The core of Gorbachev's enterprise was undeniably idealistic: He wanted to build a more moral Soviet Union. For though economic betterment was their banner, there is little doubt that Gorbachev and his supporters first set out to right moral, rather than economic, wrongs" (Aron 2011: 3).
Gorbachev was reluctant to use bloody means to suppress dissent and discontent. "At the end of 1989, the first representative national public opinion survey found overwhelming support for competitive elections and the legalization of parties other than the Soviet Communist Party" (Aron 2011:3). While some have cited President Reagan's astronomical expenditures on defense as a way of 'bankrupting' the U.S.S.R. By forcing the nation to spend itself into oblivion, it is important to note that long before Reagan's ascent to power, the U.S.S.R. was on shaky economic footing but had continued to 'plug' on. More significant was Soviet over-expansion abroad. The one military action did cripple the Soviet economy and raise national outrage was when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, diverting its resources into an unwinnable war that caused many causalities. Coupled with the efforts to prop up the satellite non-Russian Republics and Eastern European states, the public relations, economic, and military capital were too great for the Russian government to sustain. Rising nationalism in non-Russian republics further destabilized the Soviet Union and finally caused it to fragment.
Aron, Leon. (2011). Everything you think you know about the collapse of the Soviet Union was wrong. Foreign Policy. Retrieved September 4, 2011 at http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/06/20/everything_you_think_you_know_about_the_collapse_of_the_soviet_union_is_wrong?page=0,3
First Amendment. (2011). Annotated constitution. Cornell Law. Retrieved September 4, 2011 at http://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/amdt1efrag4_user.html