My itty-bitty brain believes the “mute” button on the remote control for our television might be one of the greatest inventions.

I’m sure you are as curious as Curious George to learn why I believe this.

Well, it is simple.

It is the only time in my life when I have complete control over any politician running for office.

 When a political ad pops up on the screen, my quick draw is incredible.

My squelching of the mute button is so fast that it can’t be timed.  

Zap, the politician is silenced.

I want to counter the advertisement with these words: “I’m Bill Pike, an American, and I disapprove of this ad.”

In an article written by Mark Murray for NBC News, Mr. Murray states: “The latest projections estimate that $6.7 billion could be spent on advertising in the 2020 election.”

That’s correct, I’m not making this up 6.7 billion dollars.

I don’t know about you, but I think we have lost our minds.

And what is sad about this absurd amount of money is that some of the candidates spending these big dollars will not be elected. 

I assume that the companies who make these political advertisements are laughing  all the way to their bank accounts.

Bill Foster was a gifted college basketball coach. He coached Jim Valvano as a player at Rutgers. Before Coach K at Duke, Bill Foster in 1978 got the Blue Devils to the NCAA championship game against Kentucky. After Duke he coached at the University of South Carolina and Northwestern.

After his passing in 2016, I watched an internet tribute to Coach Foster. Lots of his former players were a part of acknowledging their appreciation for him.

One South Carolina player shared a story from a practice session. The second string players were scrimmaging the starters. Nothing was going right for the starters. They could not hit any of their shots.

Coach Foster noted this. He called time out, and asked for the ball. At that point, Coach Foster took the ball and dropped  kicked it high up into the empty tiers of the coliseum. Then he said, “Something is wrong with the ball, get another one.”

That’s the way I feel about our election process—we need a new ball. 

Here is my first recommendation—political advertisements can only air on television from 12 midnight until 6:00 a.m. I’m sure the mute button on our television remote will appreciate this break in action.

Next, we must stop spending 6.7 billion dollars for advertisements. With all of the real problems we are facing in America, can’t we find a better economical path?

As a part of the content in the ads, we must consider eliminating  the mudslinging. I think the mudslinging only serves to contribute more to our already negative incivility. 

Perhaps politicians, their advisors, and the production companies who create the ads need to take a course in Mr Rogers.

And while I’m whining about political advertising, I will whack at mailings and robocalls.

It has become increasingly clear to me that politicians or maybe the people who work for them have a difficult time reading. 

On three separate occasions this fall, I have requested in writing that my name be removed from a mailing list. Despite my diligence, political mail still appears. I do not read mailed political ads. They are tossed in the recycling bin.

We all know there is nothing quite like a robocall. I love their tricks. Like using our area code to make me think— oh, this might be someone I know. 

But, what is even more interesting to me is the cowardly nature of these calls. If I attempt to redial the number, I can’t be connected, the number isn’t available.

The other day I listened to the beginning of a call. It started: “Perhaps you know this is an election year.” 

Are you kidding me? The only way I could not know this is an election year is if I was frozen and buried in Antarctica.

And yet somehow, despite all of its shortcoming, imperfections, and blurred vision, I am still an American who wants me and my country to wake up.

What is even sadder to me, no matter a person’s political party affiliation, and no matter how a person will vote, deep inside our hearts we all know that what I am spouting off about is the annoying truth.

I am not the brightest guy in the world, but I worry about our inability to see this.

In William Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech, I love his words: “inexhaustible, endurance, heart, soul, compassion, duty, honor, and sacrifice.”

America, we must relearn these words.

We can’t “mute” them.

Flags of America, Virginia, Henrico County by Bill Pike

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