Changing Political Culture: Media revolution required

Barbra O’Brien of Mahablog guest blogs at Unclaimed Territory and introduces her series on saving democracy through media activism. I can’t wait to read the rest of it.

She says what I’ve been saying (though much better, of course) for a long time: That fixing the media in this country is THE most important thing for progressives to do.


The ascension of the radical Right occurred over many years, and their takeover of government — a slow-motion coup d’etat — happened gradually enough that most of us didn’t comprehend what was happening. America has been challenged by radicalism before, and always it has come back to the center soon enough. (And by “center” I mean the real center, where liberalism and conservatism balance, not the false “center” of today that would have been considered extreme conservatism in saner times.) I do not believe the coup is a fait accompli; the Right is not yet so secure it its power that it has dropped all pretense of honoring democratic political process. They’re still going through the motions, in other words. But this time I do not believe America will come back to the center unless a whole lot of us grab hold and pull at it. Hard.

How do we do that? First, we have to get our bearings and remember what “normal” is, which is going to be hard for the young folks whose memories don’t back back further than the Reagan Administration. Just take it from an old lady — what we got now ain’t normal.

Second, I argue that media reform is essential to all other necessary political reform. Until people outside the radical Right and the elite media-political establishment are able to take part in the nation’s political discourse, not much can be accomplished.

For example, many progressives have concluded it is pointless to support Democrats, because as soon as a Democrat gets inside the Beltway his spinal column is ripped right out of him. Time and time again, we’ve seen Democratic politicians make grand speeches to their liberal constituents, but once we get them elected they do little more than offer ineffectual objections to the ruling right-wing power juggernaut. At best. At worst, they vote with the Right out of some screwy notions about political expediency. And we’re all sick of this.

But I say that progressivism’s salvation will not come from any political leader or party, Democrat or otherwise. Progressivism will only be saved when we can effect change in our political culture so that progressive ideas can get a fair public hearing. And this brings us to the necessity of media reform. [emphasis added]