Before there was the Internet we had CB radios.
Who could forget the CB radio phenomenon from the mid-1970s? Popular movies, television and music all documented our love affair with citizens’ band radios.
Truckers were the founding fathers of this craze. Truckers banded together in response against government attempts to change the way we traveled on the interstate highway system. The 1973 oil crisis brought a reduction in the national speed limit, fuel shortages were commonplace and gas rationing was a reality.
Truckers took to their radios and used anonymous handles, or names, to run convoys at high speeds. They alerted drivers to cheap gas. CB radios linked together a grassroots organization of citizens working to overcome an obtrusive government. CB radios ran interference when “Smokey” began to chase “Bandit.”
Soon everyone had his or her own creative handle. CB radio slang became our new lingua franca. Voice procedure was like talking in code. To use it meant we were members of a new broad based secret coalition fighting against “the man.”
Affirmative was yes. Negative was no. Roger meant we received the information. Copy meant we understood, Standby for pausing until the next transmission. Over and out ended the conversation.
Today the Internet is used in similar ways. Information is passed with the speed of sound. Interference is relayed in split seconds. Code words exist online too. The demand for government transparency comes from the millions of bloggers and chat rooms willing and able to create a news story over vast networks of citizen journalists.
Even some of the language is the same.
“Over and out” would appear to be the catch phrase for this upcoming midterm election.
Many online are certain that turnover will be the buzzword November 2. Most are now predicting that the House of Representatives with its Democratic majority will be turned over to the Republicans. The Senate could do likewise. Citizens, like those in the 1970s, feel the government has overreached. Government entitlement programs and costly commitments have put a drag on our anemic economic recovery.
But it will be turnout that will make the decisive difference in this midterm election. It always does. Both political parties are scrambling to get their base out to vote. Midterm elections typically are characterized by low voter turnout. Single issues, however, like angst over the economy may indeed bring out those independent voters eager for change. Obama and the Democrats had their chance. The electorate appears to have some buyers’ remorse. These independents may come out in surprising numbers to turn the tide once again.
Of course in CB radio talk “10-4 good buddy” often replaced “over and out”. Citizens’ band talk is still the lingua franca of a healthy democracy. Hard to say which political party will have the best buddies on November 2. Copy that? Standby.