Friday, June 29, 2007
The Voice Of The People
Some 220 years ago a group of 55 men spent the sweltering summer in the closed chamber of Independence Hall in downtown Philadelphia. Those were the days before motorized ventilation, to say nothing of air conditioning. Though their working conditions were less than ideal, these men toiled for over four months to create a form of government never before seen on earth.
What they produced, ordained, and established was the Constitution of the United States of America.
Over the past few weeks this country has witnessed one of the most contentious debates ever to have taken place under the Capitol Dome. A so-called “bi-partisan” group of politicians, including (I’m sad to say) W, attempted to dramatically reform the way this country handles those people who seek to come here from abroad. This group of politicians – for one reason or another – believed they knew the best course of action on this hot button issue and attempted to bypass the normal path of legislation and make it law.
The Founders, patriots whose dream did indeed “see beyond the years” took measures to protect the people from such bursts of misguided legislators by enshrining basic fundamental rights in the very first amendment to the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.Those 55 could not have foreseen the advent of blogs, talk radio, or other forms of mass communication. Never the less, I’m sure they would have approved of the way the people made their opinions known to their representatives who make their living bantering on the Senate floor.
The Voice of the People is not always easy to listen to. Some Senators don’t like to hear their constituency – especially when said group disapproves of their senator’s actions. We’ve hear a lot of complaining from spineless senators – Trent Lott, John “Lurch” Kerry, Babs Boxer, Hillary, etcetera and so forth. Liberal ideology is so much easier to enact if you don’t have to listen to those who don’t want it.
One very important detail to note about the First Amendment: The right of free speech, press, and assembly are protected – but nowhere to be found is the right to be heard or listened to. Over the past 20 years, conservatives have come to own the talk radio markets for one simple reason – people listen to them. The products advertised by Rush, Sean, and Blogfather Hugh (and others too numerous to mention) are bought by their audiences. If nobody listened to these shows, sponsorship would dry up and somebody else would take to the airwaves. That’s the way free markets work.
Liberals don’t like free markets – especially in the area of the media. Conservative talk radio reaches millions of Americans every day. Liberal talk radio – even though NPR has more stations than Rush or Sean – can’t say that. The ratings prove otherwise. The liberally slanted Air America put forth ratings so pathetic they could hardly be measured. The lack of ratings spelled doom and bankruptcy for the so-called network. Many excuses were given for this spectacular failure – check Radio Equalizer for all the mind numbing details – but the bottom line is simple – Nobody listened.
There may indeed be a coming storm brewing about the “Fairness” Doctrine. Make no mistake about it, dear reader, there are those in DC who have grown very weary of being verbally filleted by talk radio and bloggers on a daily basis. Their solution is not to find out the view of their constituents, but rather to silence those voices. Some senators took stock of their weary phone staff and the melted ruins of the Senate Switchboard Server and realized they were on the wrong side of the immigration battle. Others saw the same things and made up their minds to silence their critics via federal regulations.
The days when hastily crafted landmark comprehensive legislation could be drafted, passed and signed under cover of darkness and implemented before anyone outside the chamber had actually read the document and questioned it are gone. The Freedoms of Speech and Assembly were used in exactly the way the Founders hoped they would be – and that is a good thing for America.
It may not be such a good thing for Dusty Harry and his merry band of Senate Jackasses and RINOs.
Personally, I’m ok with that.
Here endeth the lesson.