"These cops love them illegals because they'll vote for th' unions, and them cops are all you know democrats 'n' union. You know what I mean."
-- WBSM talk show caller
Last week, we ran up on the sandbar of "Your Vote Is Magic!" (I am not linking to the site, because I was warned by the disclaimer that the info "may not be used, duplicated or distributed without [Lyn's] expressed written consent." Oops, I didn't get permission to print that. Damn.)
I was feeling urpy about promoting this, because I know the participants and I like them and I know that their hearts are in the right place, and I support any effort to get people into the process. Unfortunately, I am always offended by one participant who consistently encourages fear and hate among those who depend on the AM radio for their news and information.
You can't turn on the local AM radio without being subjected to low-brow, low-class, lowest common denominator detritus that washes eventually into the news reports and every other aspect of what is essentially the only immediate source for community information.
"Dese" and "dems" and their codes like "those people" and "elitist." Mispronunciations and misapprehensions do nothing but lower the level of discourse throughout the SouthCoast.
I flip on my radio for weather information and I recognize the voice of some idiot who's fumbling his way through a meteorologist's alert as the same guy who has suggested that a black person shouldn't be president, the same guy who thinks all immigrants should be jailed or deported (or both), the same guy who will not pay another penny in taxes to support his town's schools because he doesn't like teachers' unions, the same guy who doesn't think my friends should get married.
Then there's the caller who doesn't know the difference between a "non-profit business" and a "social program," but insists -- incorrectly -- that both are using his tax money to help criminals buy booze and Cadillacs. There's the caller who thinks that "democrats" are "communists."
The callers and hosts who can't tell "ass" from "elbow."
This is not to say that the wireless is without some hands who know their duty, and perform it admirably. But a ship cannot be rigged with chains starboard and sissal port. Eventually, one snaps and the rig runs off course.
So it bothers me when something as important as voter registration and election information becomes mired in apparent partisanship. The first sign of partisanship is the term "non-partisan." It's a flag that catches my eye instantly, because it means exactly the opposite.
I cannot support what appears to be a truly worthwhile project when it involves a mean-spirited fearmonger, because his manner and matter offend me. How can one trust a "moderator" who refuses to be "moderate?" Who insults "panty-waist liberals" and claims that his "nation comes only after [his] Lord and family" and claims local law enforcement is "horrid and malfeasant." On radio, it is important to oppose immigrants, referred by one simpleton as "crimmigrants". How do you think this host will inform us about immigration policy at his rally? He clearly supports one senatorial candidate, one party. He cannot be "non-partisan," and if he suddenly is "non-partisan," in which arena is he faking more?
That's what Lyn and her very positive, very correct, and very original and exciting project are up against. She wants to get a few more people registered to vote, to be part of the process.
But I have no idea how she will succeed, since one sponsor has done nothing but dissuade people from participating in a fair and democratic process. By his mere presence on the air, he makes a frighteningly creditable case that anyone who takes our democracy seriously must be a lonely, xenophobic crank.
(This was written after a day of listening -- with an open mind -- to that local radio station. How can I get those hours back?)