If you love following national politics, the last 2 weeks
have been very exciting for you. While not exactly the culmination of the
political season, The Republican and Democratic conventions are akin to the
beginning of the playoffs in football, the opening ceremonies in the Olympics,
or getting to the final 10 dancers in “So You think you can Dance”.
I am one such lover of all things politics. I should state
for the record that even though I firmly believe in the adage “all politics is
local”, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I am much more fascinated by the
goings on in the national stage. I would estimate that I spend about 2 hours a
day listening to political radio, reading political websites and watching
political themed broadcasts.
So at this point in the blog, I do need to let you know that
I am a liberal. Now I realize that there is a very good chance that by
admitting this fact, I have instantly reduced my readership by 50 percent.
(From 4 to 2 I am guessing.) I have considered myself a liberal ever since my
18 year old self saw that funny little ball of charisma, Michael Dukakis speak
at Diablo Valley College in 1988, and everything he said felt exactly right to me and I have been hooked ever since.
Following national politics so closely for over 20 years,
one would think that I would be well versed in the intricacies of policy, and
could debate a conservative for hours on end. Well...one would be wrong. It
turns out that I really really stink at debating politics. I have all these
feelings in my heart about what is right and what is wrong, and yet none of
these feelings travel up to my brain to form logical argument. I sometimes
follow these very smart Patch readers as they argue back and forth on policy,
and I desperately want to get in on it, but I just can’t. On the rare occasion I have become involved in
a political discussion with someone I don’t agree with, I feel my heart beat
faster, my blood begin to boil, and I just need to stop before I yell something
like “well shut up ugly face!”
Therefore, I have become a walking cliché. I am that guy you
know, who only listens to, reads or watches programs that agree only with his worldview. Stephanie Miller in the morning, Huffington Post or the hilarious Wonkette.com during the day, and after an hour long commute home, I slip on a Tivo’d Rachel Maddow as if I am wearing my grandma’s old handmade blanket. So cozy. Follow this up with a nice helping of “The Daily Show”, and well…this becomes how I see the world.
But as we roll into this final turn of an election season
which has seemingly lasted 37 years (or a typical baseball season), I became determined to shake myself out of this cozy comfort zone and challenge my limited worldview. I made a pact with myself that I would spend a full week ignoring liberal media and dive headfirst into the conservative world. My goal was simple. 90 minutes a day of conservative radio, websites and Fox News. No MSNBC, no Salon.com…nothing that could reinforce what I already felt.
At first I must admit that I was a bit nervous about my health. I felt like I was undertaking the political equivalent of “SuperSize Me”, where at the end of the week I would have gained 20 pounds, my blood pressure would be through the roof and I would be prone to throwing up during a delicious Limbaugh tirade.
I started my regimen on a Monday, at 4:52am driving to the gym. It didn’t take long for me to find a conservative program, and I instantly recognized the guest. It was the walrus mustachioed grumpy pants John Bolton! I had struck gold right away! John was explaining to the host just how President Obama had ruined the Arab Spring; left Iraq too soon, should stay in Afghanistan longer, made oil prices higher and how Mitt Romney is “Reagan strong”. This was a lot to take in before 5am, but I persevered. Soon I was listening to the radio host also weigh in about “Obama’s extreme abortion views” and how “gay rights are completely different from black civil rights” because…wait for it…one is by choice. (Of course!) A bit later, this same host had some guests on to offer a celebrity endorsement of Mitt Romney…the Oak Ridge Boys.
Only then did it dawn on me…this was the first day of the
Republican Convention. Within 2 hours of the pact with myself, I was dying to know what was being said on the other side. I started itching for a fix and I knew there was going to be no way I could get through this week without my Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews chiming in. To paraphrase Lloyd Bridges in “Airplane!”, it looked like I had picked the wrong week to quit the “liberal media”.
I failed, and failed miserably.
Throughout the next 2 weeks, I gamely tried to keep checking in on what the “other side” was saying, but I could just never break free from my cozy blanket. I guess the first step is to admit you have an addiction right?
Surely I am not alone here; certainly there is my right wing counterpoint somewhere right? (He is probably that nice man who walks those nice dogs in the morning.) I think there has to be, for the country is becoming more and more like me and I don’t think that is a good thing! It is becoming more and more difficult to find just where the truth lies. All news seemed to be coming from “liberal bias” or “right wing propaganda” and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of trust going around. I try to listen to NPR for actual facts, but if you are conservative, you may think NPR is biased. The “Paper of Record” is considered to be the New York Times, but again, that is viewed as suspect through some Fox TV viewer’s eyes.
Well at least we can all get along long enough to still make fun of Wolf Blitzer.
Ultimately, as things become more intense in the coming weeks, I will do my very best to realize that Mitt and Paul are not evil lying cyborgs hell bent on destroying our country for the sake of the rich no matter what Al Sharpton may tell me…they are human beings like me who are working hard, trying their best and probably missing their kids and grandkids a lot.
And please don’t argue with me about that…I am really really bad at debates.