My 2-year-old couldn’t care less about politics. She doesn’t even know what an election is. But what she does know is that Big Bird has been on TV a lot. And it has not been on “Sesame Street,” and in her 2-year-old head, all Mitt Romney is, is a bad man trying to kill Big Bird.
To many Americans, Big Bird is a symbol of childhood and youth, of the openness of possibilities and the ability to dream big dreams. With Romney’s statement about Big Bird and the idea of de-funding PBS, what Romney is actually saying is that we will kill your dreams–we will kill the American dream, and we will do it early.
While in the grand scheme of things, PBS and “Sesame Street” may not be on the top of the list of priorities to get America back to work, it is a tool that generations of Americans, and for that matter, people around the world, have come to love, trust and learn from.
For many children, Big Bird, Elmo, Ernie, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Grover, Maria and all the other residents of Sesame Street are not only their best friends, but also their teachers.
These friends teach children about letters, numbers, friendship and hard work and help them get prepared for the world that is just outside of their doors. Far too many of our children only have “Sesame Street” as their first teacher, and if we are going to get rid of something like that, we might as well throw out nursery school and kindergarten while we are at it.
But in the end, we are not just talking about “Sesame Street.” We are talking about the station that brings culture into our homes and opens up the world to so many.
In Romney’s world, culture–opera, ballet, classical music, travel, exploration–is great, if you can afford it. PBS makes it possible for all viewers, rich or poor, to enjoy, learn and explore from their living rooms.
In Romney’s world, only the rich would have access, because the poor will be relegated to the lowest of the low in terms of education, housing, health care and general access.
The type of cultural experiences offered by PBS, let alone the American dream, will only exist for the 1 percent, allowing them to get richer and richer, and the poor to be their servants and the dregs of society. Killing Big Bird is just the beginning. What will be next on his chopping block?