Michael Savage’s evening show is extremely entertaining, even though you have to be kind of dim to not pick up on his gleaming misogyny, homophobia, racism and other isms. I like him, however, because he is not a wimp. He has a Teddy Roosevelt quality, which I believe to be very appealing; and it’s not fake like Rush’s or Shawn Hannity’s attempts at being macho. Savage, in his monologues and books, talks about the world of his childhood, where mothers were at home to greet their kids getting off of busses from school, where all of his neighbors were friends and would show up with pies at each other’s homes at random times, where husbands and wives remained married for multiple life times, and where teachers weren’t afraid to beat their students—this was the 1950s. Savage’s world actually sounds pretty nice, but the question he always fails to mention: who was that world actually nice for?
I asked myself the same question a few weeks ago at the Vernon Connecticut Volkswagen dealership, which had been chosen by their corporate bosses to be nostalgia themed. Their walls are covered with pictures of hippies and surfers and families pulling their surfboards, guitars and picnic baskets from flowery VW vans; and their showroom contains a handful of classic restored beetles. But again, despite their optimistic depiction of 1950s and 60s America: what group of Americans actually had a good time during that period?
German Volkswagen dealerships aside, the question that republicans, and especially conservative republicans must ask themselves is whether or not the world of over a half century ago, (or perhaps even more recently, in the 1980s) for which they have such a strong nostalgia can ever again exist due to America’s constant changing dynamics—and increase in education levels. Republican candidates consistently compete with each other for the ‘more conservative’ identifiers: that candidate that speaks in less complete sentences, and attends church more than the others typically wins their contests; this only makes sense to me because I listen to Michael Savage; and maybe it’s due in part to the military where I generally have more respect, initially, for leaders that I think can beat me up, than for the skinnier nerdier more articulate ones (officers). This dynamic was missed during this most recent presidential campaign; it was hammered on during the Bush years, when it seemed absurd that he would be ‘elected’ for two terms. Bush, simply, was the seemingly tougher candidate. And this time, I think that it’s clear that Obama would beat Mittens Romney in a fight.
Anyway, the nostalgic world that conservatives depict as being a realistic picture of a potential future conservative themed America, where milk men still deliver, and postmen ring twice, and Dave Brubeck’s music (happy 92nd birthday) is always available as a safe and clean alternative to that ‘other’ stuff, isn’t real, and never was, obviously. It is fun to think about, however. Or perhaps I only think about it because I think that Michael Savage can beat me up—and there lies the key to future republican/conservative success: tough candidates, who are not from Texas, who are smart enough to not live in the past, and moral enough to not sell a vision of the past to their voters as a substitute for an adequate present day political platform.