Long before television and radio, circuses traveled from town to town by way of horse-drawn wagons that paraded right down Main Street, USA.
Elephants would be first – bizarre creatures never seen before by simple country folk. Next would be a fancy wagon with a colorfully uniformed band loudly playing marching music, followed by many more brightly painted wagons with lions and tigers and Tattooed Ladies (gasp!) and attractions of all kinds.
In those days, the arrival of the circus in a small town would be quite an extraordinary event.
These parades created excitement, stimulated interest, and most importantly, sold tickets.
Politicians, always on the lookout for votes, saw how these bandwagons attracted crowds and began to use them in parades as part of their political campaigns. They were so successful at getting candidates elected, that hopeful office-seekers would pay for a seat on the bandwagon.
Today, the term “jumping on the bandwagon” refers to following a crowd or trend, particularly one that seems assured of success. Jumping on bandwagons does not involve careful, rational, decisions, but rather a getting swept up in the frenzy of the moment. It is also following vs leading, reacting vs acting.
And where room on literal bandwagons was limited by physical space, today’s figurative bandwagons have room for millions.
One problem is that there are many bandwagons, and they all aren’t headed in the right direction.
Next week, we’ll talk about one of today’s most popular bandwagons.