It’s funny what you remember from your youth. When I was very young I spent every Friday with my grandfather, and he always listened to Paul Harvey on the radio. I don’t really recall what Harvey said, but he had a bit entitled “The Rest of the Story” that was kinda interesting, at least to a seven year old. At the height of his fame he was about the biggest star radio had, with over 24 million people a week tuning in. According to Wikipedia, his work has been reprinted in the Congressional Record more than any other commentator.
Ask anyone under about 30 who he is, and you’ll get a blank stare. No knowledge of him at all.
Then in the late 1980′s we had Morton Downey, Jr. Fired from his radio show in Sacramento for telling an offensive joke about a member of the city council, he eventually found himself on TV, blowing smoke in guest’s faces, screaming “ZIP IT!” to the unruly, and generally bad-mouthing liberals. He was on Saturday Night Live in 1988, WrestleMania and movies; for a while he was the biggest name in shock entertainment there was.
If you ask anyone under 30 about him, at most you’ll get “Was he Robert Downey’s father?” (No.) Otherwise, nothing. No recollection of him at all.
When Downey was fired from the radio show, a new face took his place, and has had the slot ever since. His name is Rush Limbaugh.
As of this mornings count, 26 advertisers had dropped Rush because of his offensive remarks about Sandra Fluke, and it ain’t over yet. Now, people have wanted Rush off the air for years- with good reason. He’s a blight on our culture, completely dishonest, degrading to anything that doesn’t suck up to power. So why is he on the ropes this time? A article in Forbes gives us the reason:
The New Networked Feminism: Limbaugh’s Spectacular Social Media Defeat
“I think the feminists were always out there, but often isolated from one another or overwhelmed by the amount of work to be done and lack of time in a day,” says feminist writer Kate Harding. “Social media allows us to work together quickly and publicly for something like a boycott or twitter campaign–(mostly) without the distractions of in-group politics or disagreement on any number of other issues–and that creates an energy that makes it feel so much more like a unified movement, even when people are still quite loosely connected.”
Simply put, Rush, like those who came before him, is a dinosaur. One of the main differences between the two political parties is focus. Liberals tend to be diverse and random in their interests- look at any liberal parade or march, and you’ll see as many different slogans and causes as there are people marching. On the other hand conservatives are single-minded for the most part, generally toeing the party line and speaking in a single voice. That’s why they’ve been so effective getting their message out, and having it almost sound normal while it endlessly repeats on cable news. Instead of banners wanting “No Keystone!” or “Free the Whales” or any number of causes- it’s like herding cats- the GOP just espouses the viewpoint of one segment of our population- old white men. The entire GOP structure is built around giving a reach-around to big business and big, old white people like Limbaugh.
Rush, meet your future. It might not happen right now, but I guarantee you in ten years you’ll be at a loss to find anyone under 30 that will remember him. As Forbes shows us, social media has given voice to those previously too weak to battle the giants who own media companies, run for office (ask Santorum), or cuddle up to theocrats (ask the Susan G. Komen Foundation how that worked out). Just as Facebook and Twitter helped spur the Arab Spring, its given voice to the voiceless here at home. So, it might take some time, but Rush, you’re extinct. The power of protest by boycott works- remember Glenn Beck? Seen him anywhere recently? Nope. He’s a dinosaur too. And we don’t see- or more importantly, hear- dinosaurs anymore.