How I Spent My First Year In “The Movement”
I’m in my early 50s. One year ago I started a streaming conservative talk site called the405radio.com. It began inauspiciously enough as a solo Saturday morning live podcast on my patio. My neighbor overheard my early effort and asked me afterward “Are you doing a talk radio broadcast?” My silent rejoinder was, “If you have to ask, it probably did not sound like one.”
A year later I’m proud to have assembled more “not ready for prime time players” like myself into a collection of dedicated talkers. Some were already blogging and writing, some added it to their resumes and leveraged that into enough notoriety to get invited to conferences and name brand followers on social media.
I have been politically aware or involved most of my life. I just had never committed this to any discernible media product. I made an entry into radio in my teens and had exited by my early 20s to make some semblance of a real living. I wrote when I was young, but did not stick with it and develop it into anything you would call “chops.” The collective kick in the gut felt coast to coast in November, 2012 was the same one I remembered in 1992 and 1976, but there was no outlet for me to write or talk about it as there is now. I can report the catharsis of a box to squawk about it did not seem to take the sense of personal loss out of it.
So, here are some perhaps rambling and random observations of what I think of your world as I approach the one year mark:
- When I was half this age, I don’t remember the commitment to the movement I now see from people now half my age. They work hard and want to be heard. They perhaps want too much too soon, but their expectations of themselves and others is not for lack of effort.
- Identity politics appears here to stay on our side, fading protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Constituencies are lining up wanting their voices heard. Every group seems to own a piece of the demographics which portended our failings at the ballot box for a twin spin of Presidential elections. The self-examination of who stayed home and why is, I believe, clawing at our efforts to present a cohesive and united message.
- Similarly, I have a less harsh view than some about pop culture and conservatism. If you’re an artist who self describes as conservative, it’s no less your identity than if you were a young conservative or female conservative or black conservative. We can critique art, but your conservatism defines and differentiates you as an artist, just as it does based on your age, sex or color. You can’t change who you are even if you can change what your politics are.
- The confidence to sell our product seems to have degenerated into cobbling together “fights we can win” which is a peculiarity of the right. The left, it seems, never makes such declarations of defeat, at least publicly where they serve to provide red meat for their opponents. The other side has no Akins or Angles. Nobody blamed 2010 on Grayson or Feingold. In fact, both have had varying degrees of resurgence. Grayson came back and Feingold is often mentioned as an antidote to the left’s nonexistent bench in Wisconsin. Pelosi, in two consecutive losing election cycles, did not pay for Democrats’ self-immolation with her job. There is little official retreat from Obamacare and even a midterm with ominous signs for Democrats is not dissuading their leaders from talking about again rousing the gun control rabble. The other side does not believe in “fights we can’t win.”
- Despite dozens of flavors of “new media” spin offs, good writing and good writers still rule. Ted Cruz gave props to bloggers and not Facebook, Reddit, or twitter. Putting the message into written words, albeit not on dead trees, still drives the dialog and demands answers from political practitioners.
- The messaging class seems to, at times, conflict and compete with the governing class. Super PACs, institutes, foundations, and think tanks seem to be drawing down the brightest and the best from the pool of those who would run for office and actually effect change. I can’t wrap my head around having a top conservative Senator drummed out of office and running a foundation as a win. If our side chews up and spits out our thought leaders in elected office, we’re screwed, no matter how big the soapbox they trade for, or soft landing. I joked to my young friend running for Congress in northern Virginia that part of the state would tip over soon if more of his compatriots did not do as he did and commit their considerable passion and savvy to taking back government at a personal level in races there or back home.
I appreciate the reception I’ve gotten, and understand if I want more, I have to earn it. I think we should all be grateful the web deployed written and broadcast versions of what we do have mushroomed and opened up doors for all of us as they have since my self-imposed exile. I have more hope for us than the endless stream of cable TV talk outlets. OK, I have been ditched more than once when a cable TV talk outlet absconded with my guest for a show. But that’s a topic for another diary.