Crossposted at Democrats.org:
I did something for the first time today: I listened to talk radio. I’ve always been put off by the genre, dismissing it with a "I have enough opinions, I don’t need somebody else’s." This sentiment is rings truer because the opines I heard most were anathema to mine. For the longest time, that was all one could hear.
My attitude is reinforced by the billboard ads I see on the highways: "Liberals Hate US," touting a conservative AM station in town. In Chicago, no less, home of Mayor Daley II and the Democratic "machine" politics of the "city that works." So, I muse, making others hate is a selling point? (Given that the current Republican war chest is being squandered on attack ads during this election instead of, say, applauding incumbent victories, I can only conclude that hatred really does sell votes in Red Amerika.) Morally reprehensible doesn’t begin to cover it…
In my blogging time, I hear many liberal-with-a-capitol "L" names tossed into the furnace of conservative hatred, unable to connect the dots because I shun force-fed news medium as the brainwashing it is. But today another roadside billboard caught my eye: "Liberals Love Us," with Al Frankin’s grin peering out. It seems the progressives are fighting back, but whom is responsible? I lean over to scan for the station in the delivery truck I sometimes drive to find out. Air America, no less.
So for about three hours, I listen to Al’s mid-day show. I found it rather bland. Even the obligatory barbs, delivered perfunctorily, lacked sting. Preaching to the choir, yes, but no lathering of the horses, no rallying of the troops. No venomous diatribes and invented hate-labels like "Feminazi" or "Islamofascist."
Maybe that’s what is needed to win. As much as I dislike negative politics, it seems to work. Perhaps something in human nature demands us to become angry before we affect a change - even if all reasonable evidence requires change. Or maybe its the overweight complacency of the American lifestyle with its plethora of entertaining distractions that work against progress. Whatever it is, the Democrats don’t have it.
Even Howard Dean has toned down the rage he became famous for. We need him and a few others willing to stick their necks out and shake things up, all the while advancing more reasonable-sounding options to compare against the loud-mouth tree-shakers. In such a scenario, even a very progressive candidate would sound downright centrist. It worked against us in 2000 and again in 2004, and it would maybe grab the swing voters in this season of political discontent.
It won’t happen, though. progressives are proud to style themselves "rational" and "thoughtful." What I’ve learned watching the Republican butchery of our great nation’s electoral system is this: Voting is not rational; it’s emotional.