Sometimes talk radio makes me crazy! It didn’t always, though. As a matter of fact, I used to find great comfort in listening to my favorite hosts when I lived in Southern California. During those years, there were several hosts I relied on to keep me sane, one in particular I dubbed “the Voice of Reason.” These hosts’ rational arguments against the false hope of entitlements and the impossibility of a centrally-controlled economy provided me a constant palliative to all the liberal rhetoric to which I was daily exposed in LA. I sloughed off the growing social agenda these hosts seemed to be pushing and also decided to give the benefit of the doubt to Bush & Co. on invading Iraq–who was I to presume to understand the complexities of geopolitics? Eventually, however, I stopped listening to talk radio, in part because I couldn’t get worked up about cultural issues (and I am opposed to legislating morality), but more because I finally started to notice that we were making the situation in the Middle East worse not better and all of a sudden there was an agenda there beyond preventing another terrorist attack on American soil. At this point, I didn’t know if the talk show hosts were lying or stupid or blind or what, but I couldn’t listen to them anymore. Once the scales had fallen from my eyes and I saw that the right had become a fake-out for a different kind of Statism, there was no going back.
Since beginning to do talk radio myself, however, I have had to listen to other hosts to get a bead on things like rhythm, timing, and what they call in the business “formatics.” So I tuned in to my former favorite, “the Voice of Reason.” Big mistake. He was talking about Ron Paul, and as so often is the case these days with right-wing talk show hosts talking about the good doctor, the gloves were off. To me, the New Right’s vehemence in opposing Paul betrays their desperation, and their universal preference for Rick Santorum over Ron Paul betrays their true priorities: they are OK with big government and limitless debt if they get to legislate morality and continue to battle for control over the Middle East. In my mind, the New Right have revealed themselves as just as disrespectful of the Constitution and the liberty and justice they pretend to defend as the left whom they are pretending to defend us against—and what’s worse, they actually take the place of, and in Ron Paul’s case, denounce, real liberty-loving fiscal conservatives who are trying to fight the good fight.
Listening to the radio today only drove me further from being influenced by the lockstep hosts of prime time. After taking a call on Ron Paul (which I have noticed this host does just to give himself an opportunity to make his anti-Paul case), the Former Voice of Reason said, “I bounce things off people all the time and if I bounced a view off of everyone I knew and they all disagreed with me I would doubt myself. For all those people who like Ron Paul, how do you respond to this: Not one conservative figure agrees with Ron Paul. Are they all fools? Charles Krauthammer is a fool. Ann Coulter is a fool. George Will is a fool. Only Ron Paul sees the light! He’s a prophet! He can prophesy!”
This is when I started to lose it. The Former Voice of Reason gets to say all this and I can’t answer him back! I could refute every sentence, every phrase, yet the host rants on unchecked! I was actually tempted to call in—but what for? They always cut off Ron Paul defenders when they start making sense. So for all of those who are frustrated as I am by the latest media bias and have heard these same specious arguments before, here is my rebuttal to the Former Voice of Reason….
First, this particular host is quite self-assured in his intellectual superiority and I highly doubt he goes around taking surveys to help him form his views. He did say he would talk to his friends, which might be true, but that’s not what he suggested for us–he suggested we take a survey not of OUR friends but of HIS friends! In truth, he’s suggesting the sheeple do what he claims he would never do: go along with the crowd rather than think independently and stand on principle. By suggesting that listeners take a survey of what media bobble-heads are saying rather than think for themselves, he shows that he views his listeners and their associates as beneath himself and his. Isn’t the fact that 26,000 out of 130,000 Republican Iowans voted for Ron Paul and “not one conservative figure agrees with [him]” more evidence that it’s the host’s posse of self-selected “conservatives” who are not questioning their own views?
Second, I would dispute the premise that not one conservative figure agrees with Ron Paul (unless by “conservative” he simply means “neo-conservative”). Stuart Varney, Andrew Napolitano and John Stossel all have shows on Fox—they are libertarians, fiscally conservative and in favor of small government. If there are only two choices—conservative and liberal—these guys are conservative. The fact is, I’m sure the Former Voice of Reason would like to close the circle and get these guys off the air, which is precisely why everyone on the air ends up agreeing with each other—they are all in it together to keep their jobs and push their agendas without dissenting voices that might stimulate independent thought. Both arms of the liberal-fascist media have one nearly universal criterion for inclusion: staunch support for the establishment. Either wannabe bobble-heads know conformity is the price of admission to the media club and they gladly pay it, or they are actually smoking the kool-aid and believe in it. Any way you slice it, though, left or right, opportunistic or sincere, the mainstream media are a self-selected group of dedicated Statists.
Third, depicting Ron Paul as a prophet implies he has some kind of cult of personality working. Anyone who has ever seen or heard Ron Paul knows this notion is laughable. A cult of personality requires first, personality, and second, ego. Ron Paul’s personality is practically undetectable and he appears to be pathologically egoless. People don’t follow Ron Paul on blind faith with reverent awe for a soothsayer, they follow him because he makes sense and is offering up facts and conclusions he obviously holds to be true. He never uses arguments like “follow the crowd” and “everyone agrees with me” as the Former Voice of Reason apparently now favors. He explains his theory and why history, morality and human nature support it and how he applies the theory to the facts at hand. At that point, Dr. Paul’s message is in the listener’s own hands—or should I say, in the listener’s own mind. Following Paul depends on the listener evaluating the theory and the facts, observing the world around him, and yes, maybe bouncing ideas off friends, and then drawing his own conclusions. Paul’s view is not a prophecy, and he’s not a cult-leader. With Ron Paul it’s all about reason, principle and respect for individuals, both under the law–in protecting civil liberties–and personally–in his belief that individuals can and must handle their responsibilities as free people, including seeking and finding the truth.
Perhaps the problem is that the Former Voice of Reason is creating a tautology—defining the term “conservative” in such a way that one must per force disagree with Dr. Paul’s views on foreign policy or not qualify as a conservative. Is this fair? What is a conservative after all? I think Barry Goldwater, “Mr. Conservative,” who galvanized the conservative movement in the Sixties with his book The Conscience of a Conservative, would say that a conservative wants to limit the government to its constitutional functions, keep government a negative institution (it stops people from having their rights infringed upon and nothing more), and have government exercise restraint in both domestic spending and foreign entanglements. I think Senator Goldwater would agree with Congressman Paul across the board. Here are some Goldwater quotes that I think support this conclusion:
I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Equality, rightly understood as our founding fathers understood it, leads to liberty and to the emancipation of creative differences; wrongly understood, as it has been so tragically in our time, it leads first to conformity and then to despotism.
You don’t need to be straight to fight and die for your country. You just need to shoot straight.
Unfortunately, however, the concept of conservative has been redefined to mean neo-conservative, a term which refers to a movement that began to thrive when the Republicans won the evangelical vote during the Reagan era and continued to gain dominance with the Republican Party adopting a foreign-interventionist view in order to promote the New World Order under Bush pére. The Former Voice of Reason is only right that “not one conservative agrees with Ron Paul” if we redefine conservative to mean someone who believes in pre-emptive war and legislating morality and who is willing to compromise on fiscal conservatism (i.e., talking about cutting entitlements while spending money to police people’s bedrooms and bloodstreams, not to mention policing the world, is not fiscal conservatism, it is not small government, and it always means compromise with the other side for more spending all around.)
But semantics and pressure to conform won’t stop Ron Paul or his supporters. Libertarians will keep popping up every time the corruption of the State demands that the People turn from their jobs and families and step in to try to beat back a government they had foolishly credited for a period of peace and prosperity. The term “Classical Liberal” referred to the first wave of modern libertarians beginning in the 19th century, but over time, the left co-opted the word “liberal;” then Goldwater launched the “conservative” revival but the neocons have apparently hijacked that word in the same way; so now, those who want to restrain government are called Libertarians—a term which the liberal-fascist center is already trying to misrepresent by equating it with the Tea Party movement (with whom Libertarians differ on important issues including the Drug War and the War on Terror). But there will always be defenders of liberty who champion the individual over the State, and Statists in disguise will always try to steal their identity, because these people of principle earn and re-earn a reputation for integrity and justice that when co-opted is politically invaluable. But this uncompromising “remnant” will always be there with the same rich, consistent, principled ideology of individual rights, no matter what name you give–or deny–them.
Love your alliterative phrasing: “to policy people’s bedrooms and bloodstreams”! Hate the media linking Libertarians to the Tea Party. Happily, the internet is an awesome vehicle to counterbalance neo-conservative radio shows and mainstream media. (As Mark Twain said, “”If you don’t read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed.”)
Excellent, well-reasoned response. Too bad your “shock jock” opponents have nigh zero interest in getting at the truth — they are simply “demagoguing for dollars.” On the bright side, their ratings are in decline. Shall we be optimistic and take this as evidence that significant numbers of their followers have more noble priorities?