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March 31, 2004
Talk, Talk, Talk

I'm glad there's going to be a Left/Liberal talk radio network and I'm not that worried about the inexperience thing. I just wish I could hear it in Denver.

But if it fails, I predict it will fail because the Talking Left can't offer what the Talking Right has to offer.

Right-wing radio boasts racism, sexism, and bigotry, all packaged up in emotionally charged rhetoric that pretends the listener is in some way superior to all of "them".

(Amazingly rude paragraph about the fear-based mentality and emotional immaturity of right-wing extremist supporters removed from this spot. No charge for the self-censorship. A loser is a loser, in any decade and these listeners are cannon fodder for the extreme Right. They either don't know that, or don't care.)

All the Left can offer is a desire to openly debate the issues and to come to a mutual understanding that benefits the most possible people. It doesn't quite offer the same excitement, does it?

In a nation of adults, it would be enough, but we seem to be a national of emotionally and mentally stunted adolescents. Not, you know, as a majority of the people, but as a majority of the people who bother to speak out.

There are a few voices developing on the Left who can match the Right's media voices in wild rhetoric and outlandish accusations (not that I'm saying that's a good thing), but it doesn't seem to come naturally to the Left.

I don't know. People seem to feel that right-wing talk radio needs to be countered, but I'm not sure.

Let's be serious. How many real people listen to that stuff? I mean, sure, granted, there's a core of (searching for polite words here) disgruntled misfits dying to be told that they're really, really special, but outside of them, is anyone who has a mind to think with and the sense to honestly weigh two opinions a regular listener of hate radio?

Okay, now that I've pretty much offended everyone, let me point out that I'm saying "right-wing radio" on purpose. That's so as to distinguish it from "conservative talk radio" which is not hate programming.

Conservative talk radio includes a fair amount of religion. You know. God stuff. I understand there's a lot of programming around that that will please you if you're Protestant.

And then there's the more rational stuff, the political programs with Conservative commentators and the news programs with Conservative biases. These are perfectly acceptable fare and they're quite different from what I mean when I talk about "right-wing radio."

But let's face it, the "reputation" of Conservative talk radio, such as it is, is based on the Right-wing programs. You don't get one without the other because it's the extremist programs that draw in the audiences. Without them, the rest of the Conservative programs aren't likely to be robust enough to support an entire network.

(Side note. Are UsofA citizens so apolitical because they don't care or are they apolitical because the media started telling them they were apolitical, so they quit trying to make an individual difference?)

A couple of conservatives weigh in on the Left's radio network. They avoid discussing right-wing talk radio's more extreme programs, they just say that radio is no place for nuances, you have to be passionate and take an absolute stance. It's a sort of coded way of saying just what I said, but a reputable newspaper isn't going to print your column if you say that hate sells.

Anyhow. I find myself wondering if the bit about nuances being out of place on the airwaves is really true.

After all, we're the "intellectuals" aren't we? Maybe the willingness to consider nuances isn't a drawback? Maybe the Right's experience of listeners mainly interested in simplistic, one-syllable ranting, isn't really applicable to the Left?

Couldn't it be that a more rational, reasonable approach is likely to draw a wider audience, whether "liberal" or "middle of the road" or even "moderate conservative"?

I don't think the "voter base" for each party, as they describe it in the column, is particularly relevant, by the way. There's a bit of apples and oranges going on and in any case, the Left tends to be more individualistic and less inclined to become part of a herd than the Right. (I'm dismissive and condescending today, aren't I?)

And the Left does vote. More people voted for Gore than for Bush in 2000. The DNC's list of donors may have shrunk, but I don't think that means the majority of voters aren't going to be dancing to the Left in November.

Anyhow. To get back to my point and I did sort of have one, I don't know if talk radio will work for the Left. I don't see inexperience or funding as the big problem, either.

I see the big problem being that we need to accept that there are few in power on the Right who are open to compromise or negotiation on the issues we feel most strongly about, so it's time we all stopped asking to sit down at the table together.

It's time the Left, Democrat, Progressive, Green, and the rest of us, came up with its own solutions to these problems and started explaining them…maybe via talk radio…to everyone they can get to listen. It's up to the Left to actually present some viable solutions to what we consider the country's problems.

(The "moderate middle" is bigger than either party but if most of them cared enough to care deeply about anything, they'd be on the Left or the Right, and not in the middle of the road waiting to get run over by an oil tanker.)

Posted by AnneZook at 01:21 PM


I remain convinced that someone at Air America ought to contact The Firesign Theatre about a regular show. But of course that's just me...

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at March 31, 2004 03:26 PM

Not a bad idea at all. :)

I don't know how much I'll be able to listen to it, since I have to stream it, but I'll certainly be watching progress with interest!

Posted by: Anne at April 1, 2004 08:01 AM