Saturday, August 06, 2005

Because I'm Good At It

The following is a thoughtful and insightful piece from the Mansel Report’s chief analyst Bob Kincaid.

Democrats, Liberals, Progressives and other decent people can continue to operate on the other side’s paradigm, and they can go on getting their asses handed to them. It’s just that easy. They can go on with their America Coming Togethers and their “grass-roots efforts” and they can lose the ‘06 election and the ‘08 election and every election they care about from now on. And they can scratch their pointy little heads and wonder what the hell happened, while almost the entire American radio spectrum is controlled part-and-parcel by the right wing.

Then there’s the alternative: the principled left can stop playing nicey and trying not to offend the other side, holding “grass-roots” tea parties with hand-crocheted doilies while the other side pours out syrup to keep from slipping on the blood and fights with brass knucks and saps. Somewhere along the way, we have to take Sean Connery’s advice from “The Untouchables:” if they bring a rock, you bring a knife; if they bring a knife, you bring a gun.

I listen to a LOT of so-called liberal talkradio. You know what I’ve found? It’s not talk. It’s lecture, even when it’s fun. Once again, the left has fallen back into its snotty old ways. From Al Franken to Ed Schultz, our side has this dumbass idea that what America needs is a GOOD TALKING TO.

That’s what we do to our kids when they go astray. We give them a good talking to. So far, on the familial scale, it’s worked. We know it’s worked because while they tell us they wish we’d just give them the spanking and have done with it, they’ve generally taken the tenets of the lectures to heart. But it doesn’t work for our side with the entire nation. For one, we’re not beaters. For seconds, they’ve already had the lecture. For twenty years. America has grown up. They deserve discussion. You don’t address an issue the same way with an 18 year old as you do with an 8 year old. The Repiglicans are convinced we’re all eight years old.

America already knows that some people here, for reasons known but to GodOrWhatever, are liberal. America already knows that liberals think everybody ought to get to go to the doctor if they’re sick. America already knows that liberals think women ought to control their own bodies. America already knows that liberals think American people are more American than american corporations. That’s all easy. Americans have been told that a million times by very self-assured, well-heeled, well-educated, well-fed liberals.

What America HASN’T heard is that other, ordinary, meet-you-at-the-beauty-parlor Americans think that way, too. And that is the failure of “liberal” talk radio. We make a terrible mistake as liberals if we seek to replicate the success of the Repiglicans by screaming at the ignorant.and hoping they’ll swallow the hook.

We need to give America the chance to TALK! Screw a dittohead! We don’t WANT dittoheads. We don’t want to silently validate the thoughts of the moron in the pulpit. We want CONVERSATION. We NEED to work out the details. We NEED to foster a thousand little radio talk shows in a thousand little markets.

The idea is smart. Smart? It’s freakin’ brilliant! You can do with half the money being used to support “national” shows ten times more from voter to voter. The average listener doesn’t give a rat’s rear end what happened yesterday in Poughkipsie. The average listener enjoys some level of discussion, but she wants to PARTICIPATE. And she wants to make the linkage between what happens in Washington and what’s happening in her living room. And she wants to FIX what’s wrong with what Washington is doing to her family. And she doesn’t get to do that when some guy who’s pretty sure he’s really awfully damned smart spends his time on-air preaching at her instead of listening to her, or hustling her off 10 seconds after she’s given her name.

If we’re at all smart, we Liberals, we Progressives, we DEMOCRATS, dammit, will figure out that we’re about CONVERSATION. And we’ll have that conversation. We’ll invite it. We’ll foster young talent in small radio markets. There’s a reason Major League Baseball developed the farm system.

We dare not wait for some liberal performer with some downtime to decide he wants to do radio, if the price is right. What we must do is listen carefully for the passion of people who have the necessary hunger to talk to other people. Them we foster. Out of a thousand, three may go national. They will do so because they like to talk to people; not because a think tank has spoon-fed them their talking points. If their conversations are informed by their progressive thinking, others will be drawn to them, in one degree or another.

Here’s a comparison:

Right Wing Host “My friends, I come to you today FILLED with outrage . . . FILLED, I tell you! It has come to my attention that a little girl in Pocatalico was PREVENTED FROM PRAYING when her teacher sent her to beat the erasers! PREVENTED FROM PRAYING! Can you imagine? What do you think?” (Repeat for three hours)

Liberal Local “Jim, I know you called about the deficit, but did you also notice that Congress just gave a pass to the Saudis with the Energy Bill?”

Listeners aren’t MORONS. They’re generally capable of CONVERSATION. And it’s FUN! And it generates return listeners and return callers. And it changes the political landscape.

And it just happens to be the key to winning.

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