Independents matter most |

Independents matter most

Jim Dorsey

I suspect much like today, five centuries ago, what media there was, was controlled by the conservatives and the analogous reporters were liberal. And they probably were having the same arguments as today.

When I say “today,” I am really referring to the last 50 years. Mostly because that’s how long this argument has been going on (unresolved) to my certain empirical knowledge.

In the “50s and “60s, conservatives blasted the “liberal media” because they broadcast things like commie, pinko, liberal war activists marching; or Bull Connor and his boys (and his dogs) dealing with “nigger agitators” in the south. (Ugh! Is there an uglier word in the English language for a white man to use?)

Those were my first experiences with the conservative and liberal battles over media bias. Since the “50s and “60s we have enjoyed, or suffered , a massive explosion of competitive news media. More stations, more programs, more time to fill and, much, much, much more immediate influence over public opinion and political activity

The result of course, is that media is far more important to a politician’s welfare now than ever. More importantly, is the immediacy of media’s impact. Whoever thought a majority leader of the Senate could be so destroyed in less than two weeks, including Christmas? Even Joe McCarthy took years to get rid of, and he was just a junior schmuck.

It makes sense to me that more reporters than not would possess a liberal bias. Most of them come from working or middle class backgrounds; they are highly educated; and mostly, they are constantly exposed, 24 hours a day, to the inequities of the world.

On the other hand, I have to confess to a certain bias. Most of my friends are conservative Republicans. They all are convinced I am a liberal simply because I insist on exploring both (or all) sides of an issue. They can’t get it through their heads that I just like to talk. I have one acquaintance who insists I am a liberal Democrat solely because I grew up in Massachusetts. Factually, I am an independent and damned proud of it! There’s a problem with that, though. You see, conservatives insist, it seems to me, that you either be with them or be categorized as a raving liberal.

I’m ultimately suspicious of conservative media personalities. They seem to have this penchant for impoliteness. I swear, if I hear Rush Limbaugh or even the pseudo-intellectual Bill O’Reilly talk over, interrupt or insult another guest’s character just because he is being logical, I’m going to write to their mothers.

The problem with democratic, liberally oriented TV people is they can’t get bombast down to save their souls. The only bombast left in liberal wing of society comes from people like Al Sharpton, Charlie Rangel or that paragon of oratory, Jesse Jackson. You put those guys on and there go the ratings.

The media is owned, largely, by Republican interests. Society has a natural inertia. Left in peace, society would probably trudge along quite nicely in a very conservative manner. It seems no coincidence that society, for all its history, has progressed in tandem with the proliferation of information.

We need a liberal media. It wasn’t a conservative media that railed against slavery decades ago or exposed the Pinto. Conservative media never exposes anything except democratic buffoonery. And yes, there is enough of that to fuel an entire media movement.

A famous playwright with a long white beard once said (more or less), “The reasonable man adapts himself comfortably to the world; therefore all progress depends upon the unreasonable man.” He also reminded us, “People forget that the good old days were when life was nasty, brutish and short.”

Conservatives, in their effort to freeze or turn back the clock, all too often consider neither.

One reason I don’t worry about liberal media is that liberals don’t really have much voting power. Neither do conservatives. The biggest margin of victory of any presidential landslide never even approached the percentage of independent voters. (At least not in the last 50 or so years since independent voters came into formal being.) It’s we independents who determine elections on a national basis.

So rail on, Hannity and Donahue! Keep swearing you are an earnest journalist, O’Reilly. Polish that snide manner, Rush. In the end, you don’t matter much. Independents will continue to decide elections and continue to think. You are merely entertainment.

Capitol punishment seems to me in the end to be imperfect revenge and a tool for politicians to secure votes. I’m pro-choice, since I don’t approve of imposing religious beliefs on others by force. I want a balanced budget and a strong defense. I love lower taxes. I believe a society is judged on how it cares for its old, young and its weak. I am in favor of state’s rights, but quake to think of what the Mississippi school system would be like today without a strong federal government. And I find it difficult to ignore state’s track records on minor things like civil rights. But the idea of state’s rights sounds nice and Jeffersonian.

I believe in capitalism with all my heart. Corporate America has been instrumental in every societal stride of the last century, everywhere in the industrialized world, too, not just America. It has fostered more and better living for billions.

Regulations do strangle. Civil servants and elected officials can’t manage anything well, except maybe getting elected.

Yet unfettered capitalism is inevitably doomed to failure and disgrace. From the days of the Robber Barons to the days of Enron, the lessons are clear and unequivocal. And unfortunately, very consistently present. If capitalism is to continue to succeed, it needs an active, vigorous and even vindictive watchdog to ensure fair play.

I think if you give everyone the same standardized test that in short order, they will all be educated to take that test and very little else. But those test scores will sure salve a lot of consciences.

I don’t believe citizens’ rights should be abridged for the benefit of business. Requiring citizens to surrender their ancient right to sue anyone to receive aid from their government is a disgrace. Convenient, effective and efficient, but still a disgrace.

I support the commander in chief at war (I mean, what else can you do?), but sure can’t understand why he doesn’t just show us what so convinced him that spending lives is necessary.

This I believe. What am I? A liberal, moderate, or conservative? I really don’t know.

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