Want To Get Heard...? Forget The Presidency, Get A Cable News Show

You may not want to hear this, but let me try anyway….

Among Catholics they are known as the Opus Dei. Among Jews, the Haredim. Among Protestants, the Fundamentalists. Among Muslims, the Jihadists. Among secularists, they are collectively dismissed as ideological wing nuts. And yet there are far too many of them in our world to ignore. These are, each in their own very different way, the true believers who carry their banners of truth proud and high. And the way they see it, if you are not with them, brother you’re against them!

Many of us watching may respect their unflagging devotion to their ideas. They remind us that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. And so it is these populations act out their ideas. Like the Haredim in Israel who taunt men in their communities who volunteer for the army…the Fundamentalists here who boycott military burials…and the Opus Dei who start novenas for the salvation of the GI’s souls.

This passion is consistent with most of humanity’s bloody history. From the ancient Chinese and Persians up to the modern day sit-ins and jihadists, there are always those who reject compromise as cowardice, and negotiating as appeasement. The rest of us either admire them or talk longingly about the days when “politicians fought in Congress but then drank together in bars.”

With today’s cable news channels, social media and their 101 unedited voices cackling 24/7, it’s virtually impossible for any one voice to get through. Say like President Roosevelt did in the Thirties with his Fireside Chats on national radio. I remember watching my Father watching the yellow radio dial as he listened intently to “the man.” People disagreed with him and with one another just as violently then as now. The difference is that now no president has the final voice. I mean, he can’t even address the nation without instant rebuttals by the other party and each of the other dozen news channels.

It’s easy to reiterate how free speech is essential in a democracy. It’s a lot harder to distinguish free speech from carefree speech. Here I’m thinking of the Rush Limbaughs, Glenn Becks, Michelle Bachmans, Anne Coulters and yes sometime Rachel Maddows and Bill Mahers. Who comes to your mind…?

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