Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Say goodbye to the old me.

The elitist, debonair, latte-sipping liberal that used to post to this blog is gone. In his place, I proudly present a NASCAR-lovin', Budweiser chugging, good ol' boy conservative.

Yee haw!

Last November, as I despaired over the reelection of Bush, I discussed a Republican coworker of mine, whom I affectionately referred to as Bubba. I theorized that the reason that we disagreed so often in our political discussions was not because of our base differences in philosophy (mine being liberal and his being conservative) but rather because I mostly take in my news from sources that are biased to the left, whereas his are biased to the right. I suggested that perhaps we'd see more common ground if we did a media swap for a number of weeks.

Common sense soon prevailed and I happily sank back into my cozy liberal world. Listening to Rush Limbaugh? Good god! What was I thinking?!?

Until today.

Today, for some inexplicable reason, we decided to begin the experiment. For the next 4 weeks I will no longer:
  • Listen to NPR
  • Read Salon
  • Read the New York Times
  • Exercise critical thought
Instead, I will be getting my news from his sources, which appear to be Yahoo News and...shudder...conservative talk radio.

Bubba, on the other hand, will be wallowing in NPR and Salon.

So, I had the radio on all day today. I heard Rush Limbaugh, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, and Sean Hannity. Within minutes, I began to experience the five stages of political grief. They are:
  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Hatred
  • Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
  • Flatulence
So far I've learned that the Democratic Party is beholden to the environmental extremists, liberals have been drinking Clinton Kool Aid, and my diet is methane-rich.

All in all it was a pretty unpleasant beginning to the Great Media Swap experiment. I hope that I'll be open-minded enough to gather a better understanding of my conservative brethren, or that it will be ludicrous enough to fuel a few blog posts. Either way, I'll keep you posted.

Go Dale Earnhardt Jr.!


ziggy said...

Well I just ran a cross your site. Sounds like a fun experiment. I would have to say I'm rather conservative but I don't know if my media sources would change me much as I listen to npr probably as much as talk radio. Have fun with it.

Mike said...

Ziggy, thanks for stopping by. I'm going to guess that you're in the minority when it comes to media consumption. I think many folks suffer the same flaw as me, wanting to hear news that reinforces our world view. You're a good egg, Ziggy.

politically bipolar said...

Interesting experiment.

I think the liberal bent of the NY Times is exaggerated, though. It's definitely somewhat left of center, but it's nothing like Salon. And I'd say NPR is somewhere in between. Both NPR and the Times are officially, institutionally commited to objective reporting; they just tend to swing left because most of their reporters swing that way (as journalists are wont to do, IMHO). In contrast, Salon was intentionally designed to be a liberal mouthpiece from its inception.

I have to say, though, this swap doesn't sound like a very level playing field. I mean, it sounds like you're trading highbrow liberal intellectuals for middlebrow conservative splenetics, and thought-provoking text for emotionally evocative radio. (NPR pretty much qualifies as text, too.) So how about reading the National Review and some columns from David Horowitz, David Brooks, George Will, and Robert Novak? That would at least put the conservatives in the same weight class. And throw in some Chris Hitchens to get someone on both sides.

Personally I think one of the biggest reasons people go left or right is their social environment. If my friends and family, whom I love and trust and whom I know are all good people, tend to be conservative, then naturally I'm going to identify more strongly with people like them and be more open to their ideas, and also be more wary of people different from them (and their ideas). This is just human nature.

There have also been some studies by psychologists that have indicated that personality or temperament might play a role, though this is controversial.

The U.S. could really use an "Adopt a Red-Stater" / "Adopt a Blue-Stater" program, where conservatives are matched with liberals and they try to get to know each other personally over a period of time (during which political discussion is verboten). Just knowing and respecting someone whose views are different can go a long way toward inculcating respect for that person's views, even if it doesn't convert you to them. I heard about a group of pro-life and pro-choice women in Massachussetts who did this, and it worked remarkably well.

Anyway, enjoy your fair and balanced news.

Mike said...


I agree that political direction is determined by factors other than the media. That's not what this is about. Bubba is a conservative mostly for fiscal reasons. So, why did he believe that the Iraq war was going well whereas I thought it was going poorly? That has nothing to do with our party stance and everything to do with the media we have chosen.

I totally agree with you on the quality of the media sources we've chosen. I was very surprised to hear that Bubba didn't have some more....uh...thoughtful news sources. The purpose of this experiment was to swap OUR news sources, but maybe I'll up the ante and add in some of your recommendations. At least a smart conservative website or 2.

dolface said...

That's the most horrible thing i've ever heard.
good luck and be careful.

poor hank and daisy...