Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Scary World of Conservative Talk Radio and Its Failure to Realize We Are A Coalition Based System of Governance

The local talk radio station in Philly, WPHT, provides air time for a group of ultra conservative, reactionary broadcasters that project a view of American government that can only be termed subversive, derisive, and perverse. What's worse, they seem to have an audience of sycophants that project the kind of delusionary views one would associate with followers of cult leaders like Jim Jones. There is no real fact checking because the hosts are masters at raising non-sequiturs, innuendo, data this is either made up, dated, or incomplete.

None of this would be so bad if it weren't for the weaknesses in our electoral system, one where a small group of motivated people can affect elections where turn out is historically low. As a former Republican who fled the Party with the rise of the Tea Party, I am fearful not just because of the anti-social, anti-poor, racist, Social Darwinian views of the hosts and listeners- none of whom have a true grasp on our Founders in spite of their insistence to the contrary- but because their prescription for growing the Party and its influence is completely wrong.

I heard to Pa. state reps on the air yesterday defending their support for an increase in the gas tax to pay for improving our roads and bridges. They made reasoned, pragmatic arguments that (ex)Republicans like me fully appreciate. These are the kinds of actions Republicans used to make with regularity, which was also a reason they had such a diverse base of support. But all I heard from the host and callers were accusations of them "selling out," how they lacked principle, and how they should be defeated in a next election.

Don't these people realize that it is these displays of pragmatism that are going to win over those in the middle. The center is dominated by pragmatists, I consider them The Pragmatist Party, and they will form a coalition with whichever Party offers the most pragmatic solutions to the issue(s) they care about the most.

Talk radio hosts will have none of this. They do not believe in negotiation, they do no believe in compromise, and by taking this position they are basically "history deniers." They are smug, superficial, and frankly do little to inform their listeners of the information they need to best understand the issues of the day.

The Tea Party and the reactionaries on talk radio are the primary causes for the demise of the Republican Party, and until Party leaders can show the guts to take them on, the Party is doomed for irrelevance, soon to take a place in history next to the Know Nothings. Come to think of it, at this point in time I can't think of a more appropriate place for them to be.

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