If nothing else, this blog is about us on the right doing a better job communicating and knocking down barriers to our effectiveness that come from within the movement.
A great example is how many on the right are all lathered up about the return of the Fairness Doctrine under an Obama Administration.
I have two words for these people: Not happening. Not only has Obama, though a spokesman, flatly denied any interest in reimposing the Fairness Doctrine, or otherwise failed to show any interest in the issue, but his pursuing it would be political suicide. Even if you don't believe a word that comes out of his mouth, believe that he is not this dumb.
Not only would the Fairness Doctrine constitute a direct provocation to the Right without any tangible political benefit in the Center or the Left, but Democrats now the advantage in both mainstream and alternative media and have less reason to go after conservatives' atrophying talk radio advantage.
As tirelessly chronicled elsewhere, sites like TPM and HuffPo and ThinkProgress are the liberal talk radio. Obama raised a motherlode from the Internet in a way conservatives have been unable to do using talk radio because the Web is an all-encompassing home for communication and activation. Not only do you you have a mechanism for motivating people, but you have the click mechanism for funding and real-time response. Even when talk radio is successful at driving action, as with the immigration debate, its versatility is limited by the number of talkers on the AM dial. On the Internet, the number of activation channels is unlimited and the surround sound from this cacophony is persistent. The Left understood that the web was the medium of the future, with flailing catchup projects like Air America reduced to window dressing.
Sorry to burst anyone's bubble, but liberals are unlikely to upset the apple cart with alternative media because they now dedicated channels of their own, unlike in the early Clinton years. The reimposition of the Fairness Doctrine went nowhere when Rush was on the rise in 1993, and it will go nowhere next year or the year, especially with conservative talk radio no longer the center of the universe.
So, why does it bother me that some people focus on the issue?
First off, even with the proliferation of media, there is only so much bandwidth in the media ecosystem for conservative opposition messages. Do you really want to waste it on a nothing-burger like the Fairness Doctrine? There are enough legitimate threats -- endless bailouts, runaway deficit spending, nationalized health care, card check -- that I don't think we can afford to throw away our limited political capital on a non-issue.
Second, conservatism in the public arena has had a substance problem these last few months. Call it the William Ayers Effect -- for what we were talking about when the economy went to hell in a handbasket this fall. Obama is promising drastic and radical change on the issue that's of central and singular importance to the public -- the economy. It is on that issue, and on very few others, on which we must engage. If Obama revives the Old Deal on top of the $700 billion bailout, that will be a huge shift felt for generations to come. If he ultimately succumbs to automakers' demands for a bailout, he'll have rewarded the most pathological sectors of our economy and crippled what's left of the domestic manufacturing base. Ditto for nationalizing one seventh of the economy in addition to the everything else that's been nationalized in the last sixty days.
The Center for American Progress's talk of going 76 years back in time to the Old Deal -- when its president John Podesta is leading the Obama transition, is dead serious. It's time for conservatives to be similarly serious about how they want to oppose Obama.
Be afraid, be very afraid, but not because the Fairness Doctrine is coming back.