Will ‘pragmatic’ billionaires try to take back our nation’s megaphones?
I have argued for several years that over the past five decades or so, Republicans, conservatives, independents and people of traditional faith have ceded control of most media, academia and entertainment to Democrats and others on the left, and over the past decade, this has included much of the scientific and medical realms as well — together, what I call the “five megaphones” of our nation.
That argument has generally fallen on deaf ears among those in a position to alter the dynamic, including from within the Republican Party. I’m referring to the mega-wealthy who purport to share the values of Republicans, conservatives, independents and people of traditional faith.
I have listened to voices from these communities whine about “discrimination from the left,” “censorship,” and the “unfairness of it all” — as they twiddled their thumbs and did nothing to change this.
News flash to these folks: Nature hates a vacuum, and human nature will seek to fill the void. That means, if those on the right did not rush to fill the ranks in media, academia and entertainment, some on the left were more than happy to do so. And as the left was filling that void, human nature kicked in: They hired those who thought like them.
Do some members of the media, academics, entertainers and those in segments of science and medicine now discriminate against Republicans, conservatives, independents and people of faith? Perhaps. Is such discrimination wrong, or potentially even illegal? Yes, perhaps.
But, so what. Beyond complaining and wringing their hands, what have powerful Republicans, conservatives, independents and people of faith done to change that reality? I’d say next to nothing.
Allow me to reacquaint you with a powerful passage from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech, “Citizenship in a Republic,” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910. In the speech, which became known as “The Man in the Arena,” Roosevelt stressed:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Many on the right may not want to acknowledge this, but those on the left continually jump into that arena when they believe it can increase or secure their power base. They often do so with the support of wealthy progressives who recognize an opportunity to alter the dynamic and put their money behind their ideology. But again, not so much from the wealthy Republicans, conservatives, independents and faithful.
At least, not until now. Is a change finally coming that might loosen the grip the left has held on much of the media, academia and entertainment?
Time will tell, but two recent events could signal that a crack is appearing in the left’s control of the “megaphones.”
The first event is Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s plan to purchase Twitter. Although Musk, the world’s richest man, is a self-described “liberal,” he declared in a series of tweets: “I strongly supported Obama for President, but today’s Democratic Party has been hijacked by extremists. … The far left hates everyone, themselves included!”
Earlier this month, he blamed Netflix’s recent subscriber losses to a “woke mind virus” that has made the platform “unwatchable.”
And in a response to a tweet pointing out Twitter’s lack of action against a journalist who appeared to call for violence against “pro-lifers,” Musk cut to the chase: “Twitter obv has a strong left wing bias.”
Musk has said he intends to rectify Twitter’s bias if his deal to acquire the social media platform goes through.
In a 2012 interview with the Chicago Tribune, Griffin said he was “terrified” that the country was headed in the wrong direction. “I think [the ultra-wealthy] actually have an insufficient influence,” he said. “Those who have enjoyed the benefits of our system more than ever now owe a duty to protect the system that has created the greatest nation on this planet.”
I would argue that the problem is not that the ultra-wealthy have “an insufficient influence” but that they have the wrong influence. More often than not, they tend to back flawed politicians who betray Americans most in need.
Instead, they should invest in the “megaphones” of our nation, as Musk is doing. Create social media platforms, universities, media outlets and entertainment centers — not to turn them into bastions of conservative ideology but to open them once again to all voices, where civil debate is not only accepted but encouraged.
Elon Musk is showing the way. Will others follow?
Douglas MacKinnon, a political and communications consultant, was a writer in the White House for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and former special assistant for policy and communications at the Pentagon during the last three years of the Bush administration. His latest book is “The 56: Liberty Lessons From Those Who Risked All to Sign the Declaration of Independence.”