WUSSIFICATION: Does the Republican Party Now Fear The Power of Opinion?

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on December 20, 2015

One of the biggest assumptions that one could make during the course of a conversation or trying to express a written thought, is that the audience is already aware of some obscure background information behind the overall message.

When I wrote last week’s column about one blogger’s plan on rightwisconsin.com to boycott Laura Ingraham, Mark Levin, and Rush Limbaugh as a result of his perception that those talk show hosts are apologists for Donald Trump, I forgot to include the fact that Right Wisconsin, and one of its founders, WTMJ AM talk show host Charlie Sykes, lean Republican.

However, if given the opportunity, it’s safe to assume that Mr. Sykes and the other people who make that web site possible would say that they lean conservative.

The problem with such labels as “conservative” and “libertarian,” is that when some people claim to be in either camp, they believe that they are the truest representation of that group. A few years ago, I read a spirited thread on Facebook about “libertarians” who claimed to represent – and speak for – other libertarians.

Some of the self-titled libertarians claimed that true libertarians support abortion, since their interpretation of that political philosophy protects individual choices, while other people countered with the argument that libertarianism is a pro-life movement. The argument given why libertarians are pro-life is, while libertarians believe in individual choices, those choices are subject to the constraints of personal responsibility, self-discipline, and respect for other human life.

The debate between the people who call themselves libertarians while having conflicting beliefs over such major issues as abortion, is reminiscent of the Dire Straits song, “Industrial Disease”:

Two men claim their Jesus/
One of ‘em must be wrong

Ever since the 2014 elections that restored Republican control of Congress, the definition of what a conservative is has been the subject of some tweaking at the hands of the leaders of the GOP; in other words: professional Republicans.

If politicians could control the perception of what ideals and principles constitute an ideal conservative, then the hope is that individuals who identify with the Ronald Reagan example of conservatism, will tweak their ideals as well.

This isn’t the first time that professional Republicans have tried to alter the perception of conservatism. The earliest recollection that I have is when George H.W. Bush won the 1988 presidential election in a landslide, while claiming that he embraced Mister Reagan’s beliefs as a conservative. Sadly, Mister Bush’s administration was the beginning of the Republican Party’s attempted fundamental transformation of Reagan Conservatism.

After the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the cronyist reformation of conservatism picked up where it left off eight years earlier.

It was around 2002 when I started to feel unwelcome in the GOP’s Big Tent. The arrogance and open cronyism, such as supporting the outsourcing of American jobs, and silence after the Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that eminent domain was permissible for the personal gain of private entities as well as “the public good”, was not confined to the political beliefs of George H.W. Bush. Instead, it seemed as if such behavior was the new, post-Reagan GOP platform.

To add insult to injury, there were self-described conservative radio talk show hosts who were defending the actions of the new Republican Party. During the infancy of my disillusionment of the leaders of the Republican Party, there was a weekend radio talk show host on WLS AM who defended outsourcing with a Republican-sanctioned response: “You can’t keep making buggy whips.”

Another defense of moving American jobs to China and India by this talk show host in the name of free-trade, was one example of American-made air conditioners on the roof of building in India that housed a customer support center, a building full of jobs that were once held by Americans.

Sadly, even Rush Limbaugh seemed to embrace the pro-cronyism practices of the new GOP.

When the media conglomerates, such as Clear Channel that had taken advantage of the loosened ownership restrictions on media outlets as a result of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 wanted the elimination of more ownership restrictions around 2004, Mr. Limbaugh supported their agenda.

After learning about the effects of the TCA of 1996 via such media reporters as Robert Feder, the implementation of cyberjocking, increased syndicated programming, and tiny song playlists had resulted in countless lost jobs, and few opportunities for musicians and new talk show hosts to make a living, unless they had the blessing of a media company that controlled a fair amount of radio stations.

Yes, this support of crony capitalism caused me to stop listening to Mr. Limabugh’s show in favor of local talk shows, such as Charlie Sykes’. However, around 2008, I happened to tune in to Rush’s show when he was talking about some White House representatives who were sent by then-President Bush to convince him to adopt the Bush/Republican stance on pro-illegal immigration. Since that time, I started to once again listen to what Rush had to say, because he became just as critical of Republican politicians and policies, as he had been on Democrats.

And then there is syndicated republican talk show host Michael Medved, who refers to libertarians as “losertarians”, and seems to support every policy that is endorsed by professional Republicans. I remember briefly listening to Mr. Medved’s show after the 2008 election. In a display of condescension, he scolded conservatives for allowing a Democrat overthrow of the White House and Congress. What Mr. Medved did not, or would not acknowledge, is that Republican politicians did not give Republican and conservative voters any reason to vote for them.

Conservatives will not throw their votes away if they realize that Republican politicians embrace the same agenda as Democrats.

Yes, Michael Medved, just like other talk show hosts has a right to express his opinion, and I am glad that all talk show hosts do just that. However, talk show hosts do not have the power to audit political enemies. They cannot use the FBI to investigate private citizens who hold opposing opinions.

Talk show hosts express their opinions. And when other members of the media, especially self-described conservatives, encourage a boycott of fellow conservative talk show hosts who do discuss their opinions with their audiences – opinions that contradict the philosophies of a political party — then perhaps the ability to express an opinion with an audience is something that is more intimidating – or more powerful – than using a government agency to do the same.

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/6008328119

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Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for uncommonshow.com