Political Sheep, Get Out of Town!!!

When I first started coming into this station for my weekly rant, I was a huge fan of talk radio. It was, after all, the “marketplace of ideas” as one local host enjoyed proclaiming.
In a perfect world, that is exactly what talk radio is supposed to be about – ordinary people sharing their life experiences and opinions. Every person’s “viewpoint” is equal; one could challenge their own long-held values by people with different experiences.
At some point during last year’s tumultuous political season, I grew tired of political talk on both radio and television. The discussion became less friendly and more polarizing. The callers (and most hosts) were nothing more than sheep blindly following their leader. Anybody with a differing opinion was immediately shot down; not with facts but catch phrases and generalities.
Once the general election ended, I expected (or at least hoped) that the tone of political expression would die down a bit. Maybe people could agree to disagree, or at least begin to take objective looks at issues without worrying about the official party lines.
I guess a boy can dream, but that’s all one can do. Talk radio hasn’t changed a bit; neither has the news networks. Even the internet has dissolved into little more than petty he said/she said babbling.
Any politician, entertainer, or reporter is now defined by their supposed political persuasion. This was thrown in my face a couple of months ago after I traveled to St. Paul to see Bruce Springsteen. Over the majority of his career, Springsteen has stayed out of politics. Last year, though, he publicly endorsed John Kerry and performed a handful of concerts to benefit his campaign.
Now he’s derided by half the country as a “liberal”. When I met up with relatives a few days after the concert, one of my family members laughed about how Springsteen only sold 5000 tickets to his show despite the fact that the facility held almost 20,000.
Well, it was a sellout. Being that it was an acoustic show, the building was reconfigured for a more intimate environment. Tickets sold out in twenty minutes; the entire building could have sold out just as every Minneapolis Springsteen show has over the course of the last 30 years.
Politics was not even an element of his show. With the exception of a self-deprecating joke about receiving a box of broken records and a dead chicken from somebody upset with his endorsement, there was no Bush-bashing. He played his songs, and that was it.
Similar statements have been made by my liberal friends about some of the entertainers who came out against Kerry and other Democrats. While I admit that Toby Keith’s music sucks, I could really give a damn about his politics. The same with the Dixie Chicks – they were awful before their Bush-bashing controversy and they remain awful to this day.
Why do we even care about their political beliefs? I don’t know a single person who has ever made a political choice based on the opinion of a talk show host, actor, or lead singer. Michael Medved likes to proclaim that movie grosses are down because of out of touch Hollywood “elitists” who don’t understand Midwest morality. If that’s the case, why are DVD sales so high? How can Wedding Crashers be the number one movie of the country? I would guess that movie grosses are suffering because of home theater systems, high ticket prices, and a “conservative” Hollywood that believes that we want to see movie version of terrible old television shows.
Can we please move beyond the labeling and name calling? It’s no crime to be a member of either political party. Both parties have their share of good and bad people. Extremists on both sides can be dangerous people, and neither side has an exclusive deal with the ear of Jesus, Allah, or any other religious leader. Both sides have members who have succumbed to booze, drugs, sex, and illegal financial matters. And reporting on these scandals in an objective manner does not make a reporter or his publication a tool of whichever party is taking the hit.
Ok, once again I’m dreaming of a sort of utopian vision that can sadly never exist. But someday I would love to turn on a local talk radio station and once again hear opinions that actually stray from the talking points of their political party.

Comments

Scott,

You are making some fine points. I too am amazed at how some celebrities have transformed themselves into experts on any number of social and/or political issues. Even more amazing is their devoted fans who follow them like blind sheep without pausing to learn more about the issues themself.

Springsteen huh? I would bet you have tickets for the Stones tour too.

Keep on rockin' in the free world and we will have to catch up sometime.

Gabe

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