Remember when Glenn Beck was scary? Remember when he had some credibility? Why are America's right wing bullies having so little impact in 2012? Please listen to Egberto Willies' latest Coffee Party Radio show in which he interviews Michael Charney, award-winning author of the book Chasing Glenn Beck.
Michael is a New Hampshire Republican who started an on-line social media experiment on Twitter to counter Glenn Beck about a year ago, had some encouraging success, and learned a lot about America along the way. Michael explains in his book the diagnosis and the cure for what he calls "Elect-ile Dysfunction." Michael was recently a guest on Don Manning's "Speaking of America" tonight and on Egberto Willies' show Politics Done Right.
For the sake of argument, let's say that Glenn Beck maintains the same audience he had when he had the full support of One Percent Media and Fox "News." Let's say 2 million people. The United States population is 330 million. By posting on this page, you are a voice in an on-line network called the Coffee Party that is just a fraction of the the 328 million Americans who prefer not to consume hate-based propaganda products.
Beck and others in One Percent Media have created illusions and created narratives using their audience as characters. They've created political movements using their audience as activists. At times, these tactics have been successful. But not so much of late. Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, and Michael Savage are still starring in very expense, wide-reaching, and hateful soap operas, but somehow they are failing to impact the national narrative the way they did in 2009 and 2010.
Something is happening among the silent majority — the 328 million of which the Coffee Party is representative. We are not as intimidated. We are not as alienated. We are more engaged. We are more involved. And we are more informed. What brought about this change?
And, assuming we all prefer an America and a democratic process that is fact-based rather than fear-based, what can we do to keep it going?
In the second half of the show, Egberto talks about Coffee Party's approach, and I jump in to introduce some of our Social Media platforms, including Coffee Party News, and a new web page called Coffee Party Conservatives — to which Mr. Charney has been invited to contribute.
Toward the end of the show I make the argument that money does NOT buy votes in America; money buys media assets such as TV commercials, TV shows, TV networks, and radio networks, all of which are cost-prohibitive for 99.9 percent of our citizenry. Congress is afraid of those who have money, not because they fear being voted out of office by .1 percent of the population, but because they fear being advertised out of office by them. Why, because of the expensive forms of media they can buy. This weapon was all the more scary when One Percent Media was the only kind of media that could reach a whole bunch of people all at once. But with the advent of social media, We the People can do something to change the relationship between money and political outcome. We need to achieve a cultural shift where the vast majority of the American people feels a sense of civic duty to, not only consume political content, but also create and share political content. These new tools, and this new shift, both of which have already began to have tremendous impact in the U.S. and abroad, are the keys to a better future. During the show, I argue to Michael Charney, that these are the key to restoring the Republican party's dignity, sanity, and accountability, and, doing the same for our nation as a whole.
The problem is not that the majority of Republicans are fact-free extremists; the problem is that a considerable portion of their primary-voting electorate consumes One Percent Media products such as Glenn Beck's TV and radio shows. Because they are expensive to produce and disseminate, the One Percent controls the content of these programs. That is how they are able to bend and bully the Republican party: One Percent Media content impacts GOP primary voters to the degree that what is true no longer matters — it's what One Percent Media can make certain people believe that drives the GOP agenda.
It doesn't have to be that way. Moderate Republicans, independents, and principled conservatives can break this ugly cycle by using social media to, not only counter the One Percent Media's self-serving narrative, but also to reveal the truth: that most conservatives are neither ideologues nor extremists. In a fair fight, We the People will prove as much. That's why social media is so important. Over time, it will even the scales so that money is not the deciding factor. Republicans like Michael Charney, Michael Stafford, Olympia Snowe, D.R. Tucker, David Frum, and Megan McCain will prove more convincing than people like Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, Rush Limbaugh and Eric Cantor — people who, as Charney convincingly argues, have no right to call themselves Republicans, and only do so because their extremist, corporatist agenda could not win out in a free marketplace of ideas. Their parasitic relationship with the GOP gives them credibility and access they would not otherwise have.
Victory is possible for principled conservatives, what Mr. Charney would call the real Republicans. But they can't wait forever, because every day, another principled conservative leaves the Republican party in disgust, and abdicates a the stage and the microphone to the One Percent, and One Percent Media consumers who push the GOP farther and father to the right.