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Why Won't the Progressives Get Their Act Together

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Message Ernest Partridge
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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 supporters.

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 New York 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 (!) sponsors.

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 performing talent.

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 likely.

However, as I 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 public.

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.

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Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. Partridge has taught philosophy at the University of California, and in Utah, Colorado and Wisconsin. He publishes the website, "The (more...)

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