Just got back from my trip to the States. It continues to fascinate me, the US of A. It’s by far the most affluent and successful place in the world and yet everyone seems angry. For my periodic dose of shock culture, I listened to Glen Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Rielly, Shawn Hannity and Howie Carr on talk radio. Actually, I listen to snippets and then have to turn it off before my brains melt and dribble out my ear.
It’s a weird place. The TV and radio pundits state with emphatic distain that the U.S. presidential race shouldn’t be about ‘race’, ‘gender’, ‘age’ or ‘socio-economic category’. “We are above that in 2007, they say”. How dare you play the ‘race card’. “Moving on, and now let’s look at those latest poll numbers and we will break it down by race, gender, age and socio-economic category.”
It seems to me, and this is just an observation, that prejudice these days is way more aligned with socio-economics than race. Black, white, hispanic lawyers all play racketball at the same club with little or no friction and their kids attend the same private schools but you don’t see many intersections between the rich and the poor. At least, in my limited observation, that’s what I see. I guess on a prorated basis there are more ‘poor’ among black and hispanic groups so that seems to be race thing but I think the underlying reality is more about economics.
But it is still the largest and most influential country in the world. The federal government down there spends far more on R&D than our guys and they are calling for much more (Romney is pushing this). They dominate in culture, and innovation – I just like to walk around the mall and see the stuff that will find its way into Canada six to 12 months out.
So, I hope they get their mojo back. I hope the anger subsides. There is no reason, really, to be that angry. Sure, Iraq turned out badly. Now they need to find an exit strategy that doesn’t make things worse. Sure, they have some issues with health care and immigration. But on the whole, this should be viewed as almost a golden age down there and when I go, it’s all apocalyptic. Of course, my lense on the U.S. world is radio and TV – specifically radio and TV news – but I still think that finds its way into popular culture and society.
Do you think there will every be a day when a guy like Rush Limbaugh will make $20 million by being nice? By fomenting love thy neighbour? Maybe. Oprah has done it I guess in some sense.
Maybe that’s the next evolution. Remember in the 80s/90s it was all Donahue, Geraldo, Gerry Springer taking the fringe and parading it in front of our TV eyes. Talk radio does that with ideology. Maybe things will turn. Who knows?