Sunday, November 13, 2016
The Most Effective Protest You Can Do Is...
Protesting? Good. You should be. This election is an even bigger wake-up call than the attacks of September 11, 2001. But let's make sure that the protests are done right, and most effectively. After all, protesting in front of a federal building or one of Trump's towers is one thing, but the people who need to hear our voices aren't there.
The people who need to hear us are out in the suburbs and the countryside.
What really got Donald Trump elected wasn't merely Hillary's shady past, or young people staying home. They aren't the real problem. The real problem is that 47.3% of people actually found it in their hearts to vote for an unqualified, bluntly racist, chauvinistic lunatic. That didn't happen because Bernie Sanders wasn't the candidate. It happened because they were all lied to! Someone told them it was okay to vote for him, and they actually believed it.
There is a disconnect between rural America and the truth. It's been happening for years, but there is a blackout curtain drawn across the deep suburban and farming landscape. Perhaps Tom Brokaw said it best when he pointed out that there seems to be a "wall of separation" between the media and rural America. He was talking about how the media misread the polls and the potential likelihood that Donald Trump might win, but if there's a disconnect between the media and the Heartland, it is also true that the Heartland is disconnected from real media. This blackout happened through the takeover of local airwaves and newspapers by major corporations such as ClearChannel and Newscorp, leaving almost no real local reporting in its place. Newspapers came to gradually rely on skeleton crews dedicated only to sports, business and the crime blotter, and little else. Radio stations came to preach nothing but right-wing hatred whenever they weren't covering a major sporting event or a major weather event.
And we let them get away with it.
Social media didn't help. Both sides unfriended people they couldn't agree with, and so the only Facebook friends left were the ones who agreed with us, thus lending the illusion among Trump supporters that everyone else accepted the guy, so why shouldn't we? It never, ever reached them how unspeakably immoral it was to vote for the son-of-a-bitch.
And so now we're protesting. Great, but why protest in Milwaukee? Or Chicago? Why protest where Hillary won? Take your protest out to the countryside! Protest where the red areas are! Protest in Waukesha! Protest in New Berlin! Protest in Oak Creek and Mequon!
Protest out to the farmland!
It's tempting to think that Trump's campaign swam upstream against a riptide of common sense. But if you look at the electoral map, you see that it's only the major population centers that went blue. That's great for the coasts and the Great Lakes transit hubs of Chicago and Milwaukee, but the farmland is untouched. Those are the areas that never hear Rachel Maddow or Bill Maher. They don't have access to MSNBC or even CNN. They don't have time for Stephen Colbert or Saturday Night Live.
So why should we be shocked when the only people who can be adequately informed about our elections are the ones who can afford cable television?
Out in the countryside, or in our nation's suburban workplaces, people stay informed by listening to the only source of news available in a handy way, and that's A.M. talk radio. Yes! Still! They can listen to it in the factories, while driving trucks or tractors, or working at home. Let's face it, even people like me who love NPR are bored to tears at times with its content. And so the A.M. radio outlet is the most convenient way to stay informed. It's not an outmoded media outlet yet!
And it's all right-wing hate, all the time. Over 91% of the talk radio format is ultra-conservative.
The genius of it all is the recognition that A.M. radio is still the number one means that rural Americans access to get and stay informed.
So here are the unbelievable assholes who you should be protesting! You know their names well!
We should be protesting in front of the Fox News building the most, angrily insisting upon equal time. The names above should be feeling our white-hot rage right now, and not kicking back in their comfy condos! Barack Obama didn't give us the fairness doctrine back, and in spite of my hopes that he will (future blog post on that), I don't expect him to. That means that WE have to be the new fairness doctrine, as perhaps we should have been from the very beginning.
Imagine all the billions of dollars that went into this year's election. Hillary out raised and out spent Trump by leaps and bounds, and yet it did little good, as television ads generally fail. That money was wasted! It would have been better spent buying up radio stations or building new ones, especially in the farm counties in both swing states and red states.
The idea was tried before, but not in a tactically smart way. Air America Radio was launched in the mid-2000's as a counter to right-wing hatred, but its format was merely satellite radio. This had the advantage of being an effective means of side-stepping ClearChannel, but it was also quite expensive. It went under after only a few years, but not before Al Franken and Jeanine Garofolo did great shows.
We can do this again, only better! There are already great talk shows which can be syndicated to local radio stations for free, thanks to the Internet, if only we bothered to buy or build the sticks to broadcast the signals. Jim Hightower is still around. So is Thom Hartmann. And it can be done relatively easily! A.M. radio stations are reasonably cheap. ClearChannel won't sell, so for the most part, we will have to build our own. But all we'll need is a patch of land, a shack, and some steel. These stations can be manned by a skeleton crew, and would-be hosts would do local shows for very small stipends. The trick is making sure they're good. They might prove their worth through podcasting beforehand, and there are more and more podcasts every year. There's a wealth of content! This year's elections prove that we have the money to do it too. Now all we need is the willpower.
It will take time to buy or build all the radio stations we will need. Ratings will be low at first. The brand name must be built up over many years. We'll have to be patient. But for once, the talk radio monopoly will be broken. Remember that conservatives have been blasting their shit for over three decades! That damage won't be undone overnight! A few will listen at first, and then many more. And those who don't listen will and should be met with protests and publicity stunts which descend down from the big cities into the rural countrysides. Imagine a Black Lives Matter rally at a State Fair! (Contrast this with the Wisconsin State Fair over the last several years, when the Democratic Party didn't even have a booth in the pavillion!) Or an anti-Trump flash mob at a rodeo! It can work!
THAT'S how we protest! We come down from our ivory towers and meet the rednecks where they live!
We've spent too much time focusing upon elections, and not enough on the electorate, while conservatives have zeroed in on the electorate like a laser-guided targeting system. That's what got Trump elected, and what led to over 60 million people being infected with the utter insanity of being pro-Trump!
So that's our mission! Go forth and win the red patches on the map! Turn them blue! Build radio stations! Bring in new talk-radio talent!
I want Waukesha!