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Liberalism is based in the heart and not the mind?


Brent Crosby
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When I listen to conservative radio, I'm told time and time again that liberalism is a feelings-based belief. That liberal radio cannot compete with conservative ones because their ideology does not hold up to close scrutiny. I'm not looking for a debate, but I'm rather hoping someone will shed some light on my part, and especially give the 'best of' leftist links.

Personally, I started to question conservative hosts when I realized they are never wrong. I guess in essence what I'm trying to prove/disprove is: Do Republicans have far more negative politics on Democrats than vice versa?

Thanks for your input.

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When I listen to conservative radio, I'm told time and time again that liberalism is a feelings-based belief.  That liberal radio cannot compete with conservative ones because their ideology does not hold up to close scrutiny.  I'm not looking for a debate, but I'm rather hoping someone will shed some light on my part, and especially give the 'best of' leftist links.

In the UK we do not have politically biased radio programs. I think I am right in saying that this was first started in the US by Gordon McLendon at KLIF, in Dallas, after the war. In 1947 McLendon and his father, Barton McLendon, founded the Liberty Broadcasting System (LBS). By 1952 LBS was the second largest radio network in the United States. The McLendon family eventually owned a large number of radio stations including KNUS-FM (Dallas), KOST (Los Angeles), WYSL-AM (Chicago), KABL-FM (San Francisco), KILT (Houston), KTSA (San Antonio) and KELP (EL Paso).

McLendon’s radio stations openly expressed right-wing political views. This included attacks on federal aid to education, racial desegregation of public schools and equal voting rights for all races.

McLendon’s success encouraged other right-wing fanatics to start radio stations. Texas oil millionaires such as Haroldson Lafayette Hunt spent a fortune on this propaganda. This supported Joseph McCarthy’s smear campaign against anyone who held left of centre political views. This helped drive left-wing views from the media (something it has never recovered from). Another feature of these radio stations was to oppose the advancement of civil rights of minority groups.

In the UK the government has regulated political broadcasting. This is based on the idea that it is not very democratic to allow people to use their wealth to try and brainwash the voting public. Radio and television stations of course hold political debates. However, the station itself is expected to be a neutral chairman in the debate that takes place. Therefore these debates feature people with a wide variety of different political opinions.

There are also strong controls on political advertising. Except for during election campaigns, these are not allowed. During the election the political parties are allocated advertising time based on the percentage of votes they obtained in the last election.

I would be interested in how other countries organize political broadcasting.

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Sweden allows low-range independent radio stations which are free to express any opinions they like, provided they are within the law. However, the laws against defamation of individuals and groups are pretty tough here, so that puts a limit on what people can say on the radio. Homosexuals, for example, are protected by the same legislation which bans openly racist propaganda, as a Protestant free church pastor has just found out, when he was successfully prosecuted for describing homosexuality as a sin.

Wide-range stations have to conform to a set of guidelines about balance which are similar to the ones in Britain. A national radio journalist was taken off reporting the US Presidential campaign when she privately expressed a desire for Kerry to win, for example.

Perhaps the problem is in the meaning of 'liberal' on each side of the Atlantic. I think it's difficult for Americans to realise that a European 'liberal' is a member of a party of the right, albeit a 'soft' one. If you're on the left, you're a social democrat or a socialist - and both of those movements were extinguished, both metaphorically and literally, during the early part of the 20th century in the USA. Social democrats and socialists in Europe have had no problem theorising!

In Swedish you divide parties into 'bourgeois' and 'non-bourgeois' (borgerlig och icke-borgerlig). In these terms, the US Democrats and the British Liberal Democrats are both bourgeois parties, which puts them on the right (where they belong?).

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Perhaps the problem is in the meaning of 'liberal' on each side of the Atlantic. I think it's difficult for Americans to realise that a European 'liberal' is a member of a party of the right, albeit a 'soft' one. If you're on the left, you're a social democrat or a socialist - and both of those movements were extinguished, both metaphorically and literally, during the early part of the 20th century in the USA. Social democrats and socialists in Europe have had no problem theorising!

In Swedish you divide parties into 'bourgeois' and 'non-bourgeois' (borgerlig och icke-borgerlig). In these terms, the US Democrats and the British Liberal Democrats are both bourgeois parties, which puts them on the right (where they belong?).

The Liberal Democrats in the UK are at the moment far more left-wing than the Labour Party.

Whereas New Labour and the Tories place the emphasis on equal opportunities the Liberal Democrats mirror the old Labour Party in advocating equality. This is reflected in their tax policies which attempt to redistribute wealth. It is no coincidence that the UK has seen an increase in the gap between the rich and poor since New Labour was elected. In previous periods of Labour government, the trend was in the opposite direction. If Blair is a Social Democrat, then Social Democracy is a right-wing movement.

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I deliberately refrained from mentioning New Labour! In Swedish terms they're also a party of the right. The watershed is between the blocs has to do with a view of the nature of capitalism and a view on human rights. 'Borgerlig' parties basically see no problem with unbridled capitalism, and, deep down, believe that human beings are fundamentally unequal: some are born smart, talented, hard-working, etc, and some aren't.

'Icke-borgerlig' parties believe in human equality, and that the inequalities in society are human constructs which humans can abolish.

It's a while since I thought deeply about UK politics, but the Liberal Democrats, as I remember them, had a tendency to sound very nice when they weren't in power, but to revert to a 'borgerlig' type the minute they gained power (see Tower Hamlets).

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I'm not quite sure if I'm clearly defining some of the differences between right & left radio, but what I've noticed with stations like NPR and PRI, is they seem to focus on what goes on inside the political environment. Or, more accurately, it seems they focus on what policies are being carried out on a daily basis.

American conservative radio stations like Rush Limbaugh and the Patriot are more about using leftist sources to show their (liberals) news coverage biases. Some of the examples lead to the predictable spend & tax of the supposed DNP, and others are directed at the left's values.

I came to the conclusion a few months ago that listen to too much conservative radio is on the same par is listening to too much liberal radio. Somebody here touched on how Air America is not interested in having hosts who are well educated in politics and economics, but instead the station focuses on the comedy of the likes of Al Franken. It's quite a difference when considering some of the conservative radio hosts who have a long background political science and education in general.

I'd like there to be more "thinkers" on Air America. There well could be that I'm not aware of, but the conservative hosts have done a good job of making their listeners believe the left lacks substance, period. I've grown to understand that the only true way to understand politics is to hear from both sides (or more) before drawing conclusions. And I'm not quite convinced the left is this shallow until they've put up their best minds.

Please excuse any grammatical errors till I improve. Thanks

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When it comes to theory and ideology, I feel that there's a Europe-USA difference at work here too. In Europe, right-wing political parties tend to be unashamedly interested in gaining power - for its own sake. The Reaganites spread a right-wing ideology very successfully through some of the conservative parties in Europe in the 1980s (I'm thinking about what was called neo-liberalism here, but what is probably more like neo-conservativism in the States). However, if you survey the scene after Thatcher (who was the main propagator of those ideas), any European party which has maintained its belief in that ideology is virtually unelectable (see the British Tories). Their problem is that the only real reason for their existence is to win power - if they can't do that, they have no function.

In Europe ideology and theory have always been the hallmarks of left-wing politics. Although everything is far from rosy in Sweden, political life here is still defined by the ideology of social democracy which was formulated in the 1920s. The same is true of many of the other Western European countries. The political parties in Germany, for example, are either closely tied to the church (on the right) or governed by political stances which were first formulated in the 19th century.

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