What Will It Take For Us To All Just Get Along?

I thought about getting my butt up out of bed this morning at 7 and heading down to MacArthur Park for the LA Rally To Restore Sanity.  But it was Saturday and my day off, after all, and that would have been – well – INSANE.  Instead I set my TiVo last night and watched the rally from the comfort of my own couch in my jammies.  Definitely a more sane choice.  I didn’t have to use a porta-potty, nor did I have to find a parking space in gangland.  I could pause the rally to get myself a snack.  And I didn’t have to push anyone aside to see the stage.  I was a happy camper.

I’m not going to go on too long about the rally.  The music was great.  The size of the crowd was awe-inspiring (at current count 215,000 strong vs. Glenn Beck’s estimated 87,000 – snicker, snicker).  The best part – in my opinion – was Jon Stewart’s closing speech. You can read the full text of the speech here.

I knew I would enjoy the rally because I am a self-proclaimed Middlist.  There was a time where I would have described myself as “Very Liberal.”  That is, until I worked at KTLK here in Los Angeles, LA’s “Progressive” talk station.  I never realized how loony “my side” was until I got my ass reamed a couple of times by listeners who thought I was out of line and leaning too far to the Right for their tastes.

Some of my hall of fame moments include:

The guy who wished for me to be “tased to death” in the parking lot of the station after I laughed at the “Don’t tase me, Bro” kid when he got arrested.  Apparently his civil rights were violated and I was laughing at someone who was being lynched like an African-American during the civil rights movement.  Ummmmmm…I don’t mean to rub the listener’s nose in it, but as it turned out, that dude was a pretty bad guy.  A serial troublemaker who taunted people for sport.  Did I get an apology?  No.  But I didn’t expect one, either.

Then there were the listeners who lambasted me because I voted for Hillary Clinton in the primary.  She apparently wasn’t Democrat enough for the majority of our listeners.  Most of whom were backing Dennis Kucinich, Obama and John Edwards.  You would have thought that I was sporting a “W” bumper sticker on the back of my car, based on the vitriol I got both on air and via emails.  I’m still not sure why they were so angry over my choice, but trust me when I tell you, they hated me.

Oh, and then there was the great John Edwards haircut scandal!  When Marc Germain and I decided to discuss this on the air, you would have thought that we accused the guy of cheating on his cancer-stricken wife or something.  Oh wait.  That happened, too.  And when the National Enquirer broke the story, we reported on it the very first day it came out.  We had Mike Walker on from The Enquirer to talk about their investigation.  O…M…G…the HATE that poured in after we covered that story!  “How could you!”  “You traitors!”  “Go back to KFI where you belong!”  (For you out-of-towners, KFI is KTLK’s conservative sister station down the hall).  We were lepers!  Letters poured in to our general manager.  Our call screener, Phil, spent endless hours on the phone talking the loonies down off the ledge who really wanted to see our heads on plates.  Again, when the news FINALLY came out that everything the Enquirer reported was true, did we get any sort of an apology?  No.  In fact, our show was canceled, during Christmas break that year.  Our last show on the air was the Edwards show.  Coincidence that we were canned right afterward?  I’m not into conspiracy theories but…

…OH!  And then there were the “Truthers”!  The people who believed that 9/11 was a self-attack on our country by our own government!  THEY WERE THE BEST!  They’d try to call in to our show, disguising themselves as “real callers” then, in the middle of a discussion, they’d bust into Truther talk.  I’m sure that Marc is STILL getting calls from them!  Or at the very least, he still has nightmares about  the arguments he had with them about 9/11 and The Pentagon (“That wasn’t a plane!  There was no evidence that it was a plane that crashed into that building!”).

What I’m trying to say is that there are kooks on both sides of the fence.  Extremists who spew hate and anger and are too inflexible to even catch a glimpse of what the other side is trying to tell them.  As Jon Stewart said, “We can have animus and not be enemies.” When exactly did Rush Limbaugh become the voice for all that is Right?  When did Ed Schultz become the voice for the rest of us who are Left?  Where are the people in the middle who think like ME?  I was happy to see that, today, 215,000 of them were rockin’ and rollin’ and laughing and singing as Jon Stewart led them straight down the middle of the road into Sane Town.

When I grew up, my parents always said you never discuss religion or politics with friends.  I never understood what that meant until the day I got into a giant scream-fight with my neighbor Jay over George Bush and the Iraq War.  I couldn’t believe that Jay – a gay male – was defending George Bush and his policies.  The more I tried to reason with him, the more he raised his fists in defense.  I can still see his head glowing red as he screamed at me.  We didn’t speak for about a month.  I was so saddened, but I was too rigid to budge.  Eventually we both came around and agreed not to discuss political issues with each other again.  I knew what my stance was, he knew what his was.  There was no reason we needed to discuss our views with each other when there were plenty of other “safe” topics to talk about like boys and home decorating!

I hope that the momentum that was created with today’s rally can continue into the future.  I hope that the Right and the Left will one day be able to have respectful discussions with one another that don’t involve poop-throwing.  I want us to all just get along.  Will this mean that I’ll start watching Fox News?  HELL no!  But what it does mean is that I won’t lambaste you for watching it if that’s what you choose to do.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to support our President, his policies and the work he is trying to do to make this country a better place to live.  And if you don’t agree with what I just said or what the President is doing, I’m happy to discuss it with you in a civil manner.  I have my opinions, you have yours.  Aren’t you glad we live in America and are allowed such a freedom?

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