Step 1: Admit that you were under the sway of right-wing,
This is the first step for every conservative or
"ditto-head" listener on the way to recovery. It is
important to understand that the people you were listening to
are not "compassionate conservatives,"
"Republicans," or "pillars of morality."
They're right-wing conservative radicals, more interested in
strong corporations than strong democracy, and you must be
honest with yourself about that fact.
Step 2: Realize that we can't have freedom & liberty
without first building a civil society.
And civil society has certain costs, such as education,
infrastructure, health care, defense, transportation,
communications, a viable social safety net, and the protection
of the commons, which we all agree to pay for with something
called taxes that we levy on ourselves and not on our children.
Only on this basis can we have individual liberty.
Step 3: Love democracy's basis in debate and respectful
The processes of debate, dissent, and compromise are democracy's
underlying strength. This may be the most difficult step for
those of you who had completely surrendered to the dark side of
conservatism and have labeled dissenters as unpatriotic. Admit
that democracy actually requires dissent. You might want
to read the words of our Founders to better understand what
democracy is and what it isn't. Start with Jefferson.
Step 4: Understand that a living wage is vital to maintain
a viable middle-class.
A strong middle class is vital to democracy. To say that
somebody who earns millions a year by sitting by the pool
collecting dividend checks "works that much harder"
than a middle-class wage earner is simple nonsense. Although
morality tells us that people deserve a livable wage and fair
taxes, reality tells us even more starkly that without everybody
having access to a good job, and in a nation where
dividend-earners pay only 15% in income tax, democracy is at
Step 5: Support labor unions and stop chanting "cheap
labor" as the tired old right-wing mantra.
"Cheap labor" is the core mantra of the conservatives,
and ultimately harms democracy. If capital can organize in the
form of a corporation, and corporations can organize as
conglomerates, Chambers of Commerce, and trade and lobbying
associations, then labor must have an equal and
guaranteed-by-law right to organize. Strong unions are the only
thing standing between you and serfdom at the hands of corporate
masters, and without the unions of the past there would be no
American middle class today. If you have difficulty with this
step, spend a week with a family living below the poverty level
because their manufacturing jobs were sent overseas for
"cheap labor" and all that was left was a cashier's
position at Wal-Mart. You'll be chanting "livable wage
now!" in no time at all.
Step 6: Stop listening to TV and radio pundits who have
"amnesia" about the separation of church and state.
Their intent is to convince everyone that church-state
separation was never intended by our Founding Fathers and that
the United States was started as a Christian nation. Jerry
Falwell and Pat Robinson not only lie about our founding
fathers, but also don't grasp the lessons of millennia of bloody
battles between popes, mullahs, and kings. Look at the back of a
dollar bill and see "novus ordo seclorum" - "a
new secular order" - and realize that the US Government is
a secular democracy, not a religious theocracy.
Step 7: Stop pretending that you don't understand that
government is "We, The People," and not some sort of
"Drowning government in a bathtub," as conservatives
have recommended, may have been a good idea in the former Soviet
Union, but the United States is a constitutional representative
democratic republic where our government is, literally, us. It
was designed to work for us, be owned by us, exists solely by
virtue of our ongoing approval, and must answer to us. The
shared commons of our nation - including our air, water,
transportation routes, airwaves and cable networks,
communication systems, military, police, prisons, fire services,
health care infrastructure, and courts must, for democracy to
work well, be held either by locally-controlled non-profit
corporations or by a government responsive to its citizens, with
corporations barred from the political process.
Step 8: Repent from your SUV and let's start taking care
of the planet we all share.
The natural world - including our water and air - is our most
vital and essential commons, and therefore must be protected
from those who would despoil it for short-term profit. When they
poison the world, they degrade our quality of life and threaten
our children's future. Begin now - by participating in our
representative government - to take immediate steps to protect
the commons we share with all other life on planet Earth.
Step 9: Stop listening to conservative talk radio.
Understand that talk show hosts of the conservative ilk daily
demonstrate that bullying, humiliation, and the "big
lie" are at the core of conservative talk radio. Turn them
off, and instead tune into one of the many liberal talk shows
that are daily sprouting across America, and where democracy is
still alive and well.
Step 10: Help transform America back into an
Building a civilization on liquefied fossils and then thinking
it will last forever makes no sense. World oil reserves are
enough to sustain us only into our children's lifetimes, and
then will run out. Encourage your elected representatives to
help create viable energy sources that are not dependent on
fossil fuels, and, in the meantime, take immediate steps to
reduce use of and preserve our precious stores before they're
Step 11: Refrain from rewriting political history.
Its now time to admit that George W. Bush and his administration
have been lying to us about the war on terror, the invasion of
Iraq, taking away our freedoms with The Patriot Act, and
misleading the America people on issues from the environment to
taxes to jobs. Know now that George W. Bush was selected not
elected, and the election was stolen from Al Gore. You may now
research beyond propaganda from right-wing think tanks and Faux
News to understand things as they really exist in the world.
Stay in touch with the many progressive news sites (like this
one) and publications and encourage our mainstream media to stop
being cowed by right-wing bullies and corporate paymasters.
Step 12: Be a visionary.
Once you have completed the previous steps to freeing yourself
from conservative talk radio, it's time for you to share this
awakening with others who will benefit from your new
enlightenment. Go out amongst the "ditto-head" sheep
and spread the good word of your freedom from the chains of
ignorance that once bound you. Congratulations, and welcome to
reality! And keep tuning your radio to The
Thom Hartmann Program.
Copyright 2003 by Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com),
an author and nationally syndicated progressive talk-show host.This
article is copyright by Thom Hartmann, but permission is granted
for reprint in print, email, blog, or web media so long as this
credit is attached and the title is unchanged. Published by