New Politics in America
Recent radio demographics point to a critical change in the balance of political power in America. For decades, the American voter was either left-wing Liberal (associated with the Democratic party), right-wing conservative (associated with the Republican party), or moderate (a position somewhere between the two extremes). Although there have been a few odds and ends of upstart parties and hopefuls along the way, including Ross Perot, the Green party, etc, the bulk of America stood in either of those three positions.
As a result of that situation, most American presidential elections were usually predictable. The right wing would vote Republican, the left wing would vote Democrat, and the moderates would cast the deciding votes. Reagan's election, in which he won 49 of 50 states, was an exception to that model.
For the past 20 years, talk radio has reflected that model, with most talk shows being politically far right or far left, leaving the moderates often choosing to listen to neither option. Many of those radio talk show hosts used a 'rant' format to propel themselves to rating and dollars. But change has come to the airwaves.
The following data were gleaned from thedailybeast.com. These numbers reflect the influence of one Michael Smerconish, pictured above, who has broken the mold in talk radio. First, the numbers:
"In Austin, Texas, Smerconish has increased the station’s drive-time ratings in the 25-54 demographic by more than 150 percent over the first three months of 2011, according to Arbitron ratings. In his evening Dallas time slot, Smerconish has increased the ratings among men age 25-54 from 0.5 to 2.7—a 500 percent increase. Over in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Smerconish has led a 146 percent-share jump for his station. In Syracuse, New York, he increased the station’s ratings for adults 25-54 more than 500 percent in the first three months of 2011."
quoted directly from: http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-12/rush-limbaugh-and-right-wing-talk-radio-flame-out-as-listeners-tune-to-independents/2/
These numbers have been interpreted to mean that more Americans would rather discuss their positions and ideals rather than just listen to an extreme view. A broader base of listeners are choosing the moderate position over a left or right position. Smerconish has bravely walked the length of the limb and found that the moderate talk radio show is strong enough to hold his weight. His efforts have been called 'rebellious', but they are working. Smerconish's work "will bring light, rather than just heat, to our political debates. And in the process, it will more accurately reflect the essential diversity of American life." - thedailybeast.com.
In spite of all this praise for Smerconish, I foresee a major change to our political system here in America. Smerconish has been called a 'radical centrist', pointing to a position of staunch centrism. A few others have taken the path that Smerconish has blazed, and you can be sure that others will as well. The number of followers of Smerconish and like-minded radio hosts is growing rapidly.
Could this be the opening moments of the birth of a new, centrist political party here in America? Perhaps. The evidence clearly indicates that more and more Americans put themselves in the centrist position. Once a few of the influential centrists put their views into writing, they will have a platform on which to build a new party. Soon after that, the centrists will field their own presidential candidate, and within a few election cycles the Centrist party could have the White House.
What does this mean for America? This means a further softening of America. When the conflict between right and left has evaporated, the 'muscle' of American thinking will dwindle. There will no longer be vigorous debate over issues; instead, we will see a moderate, squishy, 'do whatever' kind of leadership. "You want to legalize prostitution? Okay, go ahead."(Smerconish believes prostitution should be legal.)
I'm not casting blame on Mr. Smerconish. In fact, I find his radio show interesting listening. He is just the current prominent example of the movement toward a centrist America.
Whether you choose to be liberal or conservative, choose a position. Think about what you believe rather than accepting blindly what your parents or teachers tell you. Defend your position as best you can. In this way we can maintain the strength of American political thinking, and thus maintain a strong and influential America.