Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Replacing acrimony with civility, or the end of my adventures in conservative talk radio

Disclaimer: The follow blog entry likely contains naivete, idealism and a bit of disjointness. Get over it.

On August 18th, a friend challenged me to listen to 2 weeks of conservative talk radio, instead of NPR. I succeeded.

Thank you, Mr. President. Good speech. You sure can give a speech. That said, methinks you've got a long way to go and a lot of convincing to do. But I hope, like you do, than we can rise to the challenge. We, metaphorically speaking, since I'm not in Congress.

This seems a fitting time to complete my online accounts of spending 2 weeks in conservative talk radio land.

Bottom line? It was tough. Tough to listen to, tough to analyze, tough to suspend my judgment. I learned some stuff. I shouted at the radio quite a bit. A few times I just had to turn it off.

My biggest insight was that I am not convinced that "they" are out to turn my country into a Socialist/Communist/Fascist state. I did get some insight into what it must have felt like during the McCarthy era, when certain ideals were equated with socialism, and that was declared to be a danger to democracy. I refuse to believe we are headed there. I know too many rational, reasonable conservatives to let that happen.

As I listened to the President's speech on health care tonight, I was struck by his claim that we can replace acrimony with civility. And that, in a nutshell, is the biggest insight I gained from my two weeks in conservative talk radio. I like civility.

I don't like a radio program where the host yells and insults the character (not just the policies) of me and my friends.

I like debating in a way that doesn't make me feel like less of a good person if I disagree with your ideas. For example, I want to be able to say I have a problem with executive salaries being too high without being accused of betraying my country.

I like searching for kernels of reality beneath the hype.

I want everyone to be as willing as I am to admit they are wrong or maybe, just maybe, they don't have all the facts.

Most of all, I want to be proud that I live here, while still believing it's my duty to improve life, not just live it.

The good news is, most of the time, I can have the things I listed above. Sometimes, political and media personalities, on both sides, refuse to let it happen. I choose not to let that get me down. And I choose to take heart from the fact that, the other day, while driving home and listening to NPR, I flipped to the "other" station to see if there was a different perspective to hear. Granted, all I heard was a commercial for life insurance. But it's a start.

Thanks again, Mr. President. I want to believe the things you said. Time will tell.

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