Anderson also takes on the idea that the right is extremism. Anderson quotes columnist Charles Krauthammer, “In a country so divided on these issues, can one seriously argue that opposing abortion and racial preferences is proof of extremism? It would indeed if the minority of Americans who believe in racial preferences and the minority who believe in abortion-on-demand were to define the American mainstream.” The reality is that conservative candidates over the past three decades have obtain more votes than their liberal counterparts, so the idea that conservatives are extreme is laughable but yet held as Gospel truth by those on the left. Call it the Pauline Kael rule. Ms. Kael was a social critic, who after the Nixon landslide, wonder how Nixon could have won since she knew no one who voted for him. I suspect that after each Republican victory, many liberals ask the same question, “ How did this guy (fill in the blank) win since I don’t know anyone who voted for him?
Conservative ideas have support among millions of Americans and if election returns over the past three decades are any indication, then conservative ideas are the mainstream and it is the left whose ideas that are outside the mainstream. How did these ideas became mainstream?
In the 70’s, conservatives began building think tanks to compete with the liberal domination of the media and college campus. These think tanks allowed conservative scholars to review the major issues of the day and come up with ideas to deal with those issues. This gave conservative politicians an active program to promote and suddenly, conservatives were not just opposing ideas of the left but they were proposing counter ideas. Magazine such as National Review and think tanks such as Heritage Foundation provided conservatives ideas to challenge the liberal orthodoxy. This helped move the country to the right.
As the 80’s, began, conservatism entered the age of Reagan but liberalism still dominated the media. CNN just began to challenge the three major networks but this was not a conservative vs. liberal battle but Ted Turner challenging his fellow liberal for media control. In the process, CNN undermined the big three control. Once CNN established themselves as a true new presence, they opened door for conservatives to challenge liberal orthodoxy through new media outlets.
The problem with the Think tanks was that while they influenced policy makers, they did not reach to the general public. Most people received their news through the liberal dominated media when the Reagan administration eliminated the “Fairness doctrine,” this all changed. This doctrine stated, “All views should be represented” but this doctrine actually reduced free speech as past administrations used this doctrine to shut down their political enemies. As Anderson revealed, the Kennedy administration used this doctrine to shut down conservative dominated radio stations and Nixon returned the favorite against selected liberal media when he gained power. When you throw in special interest groups’ pressure, political discussion became risky business for radio station and station became leery of political discussion. This actually chilled political debate.