Growing up in the 80’s my mother, conservative evangelical that she is, listened to a lot of J. Vernon McGee, and Focus on the Family. In 1988, though, after her husband died, she moved, and then her preferences started changing. Religiously faithful as ever, her tastes shifted. She started listening to Take more interest in current events, sports, and politics. That impulse turned the dial over to KIRO 710 AM (http://kiroradio.com/), which did news, commentary, and Mariner games.
It also had three main talk shows, hosted by Jim French, Dave Ross (http://mynorthwest.com/130/21762/Dave-Ross), and Wayne Cody for sports. Dave Ross, though, turned out to have huge resonance on my mom, and through her, on the whole household. When I think of Dave Ross, I think of her, my teen years, and the political order.
In the run up to our hyper-politicized divide, here was a thoughtful, hyper-dedicated, middle-of-the-road moderate constantly harping on the national debt-threat. Steering away from polarizing social issues, his focus was fiscal, and to cap it, downright insightful. He was also wonderfully eccentric, to, manifest in pop and musical song parodies. Hey–to a family of anglophone tastes, when you come across a fan of Gilbert & Sullivan, what’s not to like?
Well, we always suspected he leaned Democrat, but that was, for some reason, okay. Even as those on the right were discovering Rush Limbaugh & Company, we were finding something different. Dave Ross was appealing to those seeking commonality, and not screeds, and to my devout, pro-life mum, that sounded pretty good. She did a great job passing on her highest values to us kids, but at the same time, she taught us not to close our ears altogether to the dissenting opinion. Remember Gandalf in the Mines of Moria, where he said to “bar the doors and wedge them,” save for one, lest they be shut in? Well, that was my mother, taking that counsel to heart.
Political moderation in a age of political intemperance is hard to maintain, though, and in the mid-90’s he started saying he was broadcasting from “the Eastlake Avenue Crusaders for Common Sense.” HIs doing so at the time puzzled me, but looking back, I now realize how much pressure he must have felt, standing his ground versus the shock jocks that were drowning out all other voices but their own.
By decade’s end, I didn’t have time for Dave, but my mother continued to listen, as well as other family members. In an era of jihad, Dave continued his crusade, and for that I could only wish more power to that.
And then Dave ran for congress. Literally.
He’d mentioned his political aspirations on air over the years, and when he did, the family impulse was to wish him well. True, our suspicions proved correct when he ran as a donkey, and we’d never vote for him out of sheer principle, but that was not to we weren’t emotionally sympathetic, just as we would to anty other friend of the family, which is what Dave in effect was. Dave lost, though, and was back for work at KIRO the next day, which is where we wanted him, in any case.
Except that it wasn’t the same.
Instead of largely avoiding social issues, he started engaging them, and guess which way he leaned. He he’d long been a budget hawk, but that ceased to be such a burning concern. Instead of giving the elephants “a fair shake,” as my mother put it, “he just mocks them.” It was hard for me to believe, but after years of avoidance, when I tuned back in, it was all too true.
Dave Ross runs a morning show on KIRO, now, and as such, he’s a bit more palatable. On it, his leftish tilt’s a bit less apparent, and when elections aren’t upon us, such obnoxious things don’t as often surface. Mom’s been listening a bit to him of late, if only more guardedly.
Dear Dave’s still insightful, but his open hostility to our side lost him much of his ability to influence us. Mom thinks that election taught him who his friends really were, and if we’re talking votes, he’s got a point, I must admit.
While Dave may have helped contribute to our Great Divide, he just as much succumbed, and did so only after great effort not to. As I said earlier, it’s not an era for moderation, and I daresay Dave fought against the undertow as hard as any mainline commentator could, and did so for over a decade; as such I feel more than a little sympathy.
Dave Ross believed in Common Sense, but very little in the last twenty years politically has vindicated that view, has there? Folks like my CNN-preferring mother may want to believe in the existence of Dave Rosses, but the Dave Rosses seem to have a hard time believing in folks like my mother, ones who are willing to thoughtfully listen to to other than to same-caucus dittoheads.
Really, it’s a a two-way cycle of disillusionment.