Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers
It seems sometimes that the wealthy progressives don’t really want to
win or, at the very least, don’t care to learn how to win.
Case in point: Air America Radio.
As most of you have surely heard, two weeks ago Air America Radio filed
for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Not, as the right-wing commentariat would
have us believe, because of poor ratings or lack of listener support. To
be sure, poor management was largely responsible for AAR’s troubles. But
the crucial difficulty, I suspect, was a lack of long-term
capitalization, which is to say, investment by deep-pocketed liberal
Air America Radio is a business, as is FOX News, The Washington Times,
and other right-wing media enterprises. Like most businesses, AAR is
expected to turn a profit, if not at the outset, then at least
eventually, after some "settling in." Absent a reasonable expectation of profit and return on
investment, a business fails.
But Rev. Moon’s Washington Times and Rupert Murdoch’s
Post, to name just two right-wing media enterprises, are not “like
most businesses.” Their primary objective is not profit, it is
propaganda. And so, year after year, even though these “businesses”
routinely lose millions of dollars with no prospect of profits in sight,
there is no reason to expect that they will declare bankruptcy. As long as
they accomplish their primary objective of befuddling a sizeable portion
of the American public, they will stay in business. Moon, Murdoch, et
al, can absorb the losses without breaking a sweat.
Moon, Murdoch, and other right-wing fat-cats keep their red-ink media
operations going for the same reason that Scaife, Coors, Ahmanson, and
numerous corporations fund such so-called “think tanks” as The American
Enterprise Institute, The Heritage Foundation, The Competitive
Enterprise Institute, etc. They do so to promote their agenda, and they
have been spectacularly successful in doing so.
The benefactors of these media and think-tanks do not expect direct
compensation for these “investments.” But their indirect returns have
been enormous. For this massive propaganda effort has been instrumental
in putting the regressive Bush administration and the rubber-stamp
Republican Congress in power, from which has issued tax cuts,
deregulation, no-bid contracts, while at the same time crippling labor
unions and endangering the middle class.
Meanwhile, Air America Radio is on its own, as it scrounges for corporate
Super-rich progressives, such as George Soros, Warren Buffet, and those
fabled “Hollywood liberals” have, qua rich, made out like bandits
with the Bush tax cuts, even while they have steadfastly opposed Bushism.
So why can’t they put some of that windfall into a progressive
(and permanently cash-bleeding) media? Soros, for example, has commendably
donated billions to “promote democracy” in eastern Europe and the former
Soviet Union. How about a few million of a billionaire’s pocket change
to defend – better, restore – democracy in the U.S. of A?
Moreover, the “Hollywood Liberals” have not only the funds to support a
progressive media. They also have an abundance of promotional and
When Richard Nixon put himself above the law in his grab for
extraordinary power, he was done in by a free press and an independent
judiciary. The regressive right, taking careful note of this, has
consolidated and muffled the mainstream media (with a few honorable
and courageous exceptions), and the GOP presidents since Nixon have
packed the courts with like-minded judges. Now, all that is left of a
free and unconstrained media is the internet – for the moment, at least. Don’t count on its survival.
And yet, despite the regressive right’s high-powered media propaganda
machine, and the absence of an effective countering progressive media,
scarcely a third of the population supports Bush or his war, and even
less approve of Bush’s economic and social policies. Approval of
the GOP Congress is down to twenty points. Likely voters in
the coming election prefer a Democratic to a Republican Congress by
almost twenty percentage points. In an honest election, Democratic
control of the House would be a near certainty, and of the Senate, very
noted last week, my guess is that we will not have that Democratic
Congress, due to the “privatization” of the elections and the consequent
electronic vote fraud, combined with massive GOP efforts to disqualify
Democratic voters. What we will have is a very angry and energized
But who or what will give voice to this anger and dissent?
The regressive right has shown us how a determined, wealthy and
privileged minority can gain political power and maintain it. They
planned for a long haul, building institutions and media, and the last
six years have been payoff time.
The progressive (and in the authentic sense, the “conservative") majority
has talent and resources. So where is the action? Where is the rebuttal
to what David Brock calls “the Republican noise machine”? Why has Air
America Radio been allowed to wither on the vine?
related note: Is it time to give up on the Democratic Party?
Apparently a lot of progressives seem to think so, judging from what I
have recently heard and read. Many of these have said that they will
either sit out this election or vote for a third party candidate.
I share this exasperation. The Congressional Democrats have, for the
most part, been very wimpy, and there is little reason to expect a
forceful opposition if, by some miracle, the Dems take either house of
Congress. Even so, it’s nose-clip time. The only available way for a
disapproving public to halt
this headlong rush into Fascism is to vote for the Democrats. A massive
turnout and protest vote against Bushism can make this next stolen
election very costly to the GOP. And who knows, it is just possible that
a flood of protest votes might overwhelm the fraud.
But win or lose, the progressive majority must take a lesson from their
opponents: they must take over a major party. For decades, the regressives
thrashed about uselessly, complaining about the moderate GOP and voting
for various minority parties. Then they got smart and took aim at the
Similarly, it would be much easier to overthrow the DLC
“republicrats” within the Democratic party than to build a viable national party
from the ground up. And if successful, the insurgent progressives would
inherit an established and well-funded party organization. In the
meantime, we should target the Quislings in the primaries; namely, the
Democrats who have supported the Iraq war, and those who voted for the
Patriot Act and, last month, the “enabling" Military Commissions
Yes, the established Democratic Party stinks. But let’s not abandon the
Party. Instead, let’s fumigate it and then reconstruct it.
Copyright 2006 by Ernest Partridge