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July 29, 2004


Would you vote for this man?

I was driving home a few months ago listening to a segment on "This American Life" about a Jewish immigrant who grew up to become a progressive politician. Following a prostitution scandal (he paid for one with a personal check), he resigned from the Cincinnati city council, only to be re-elected and then elected Mayor at the age of only 33. He went on to run (unsuccessfully) for Governor, and to become an Emmy-winning commentator on social and political issues.

And then he became Jerry Springer.

If you don稚 know Jerry Springer痴 full history (as I didn稚, at the time), the clips of this fiery young politician痴 speeches will shock you. I sat in the parked car until the program was over, and then went inside and wrote a check to NPR.

His story is both inspiring and depressing. How does someone with such convictions make such a cynical decision? Springer clearly is a man with ideals. Political aides who knew him as a politician compare him to Kennedy. Did he become frustrated by politics? Did he realize, as the first incarnation of his show was tanking, that people don稚 want to hear about poverty and health care and social issues, that they want to see trashy, toothless women beating the shit out of each other instead? Does he really feel, as he said, �I used to exploit people, but then I gave up doing the news"?

Now, it痴 looking like Springer might make a more positive choice. He痴 in Boston this week as part of the Ohio delegation. He痴 hinted at running for Governor of Ohio. He has a website supporting local and national Democratic candidates that could easily become his own campaign site.

Springer spends a good deal of time and money campaigning for local Democratic candidates, but can that explain away ten years of peddling televisual sleaze? We致e been hearing a lot this election year about hope, and unity, and moving forward. And maybe those messages are appealing because we're tired of fear and frustration, and we池e tired of being manipulated. Maybe we池e tired of cynical choices. Maybe Jerry Springer is too.

I'm certainly no Springer apologist - I don't agree with the "Make money any way you can to pay for what you really believe in" mentality. I'm just saying, if you have a a few spare minutes sometime listen to this story. (Real Audio). Listen to Springer's speech that closes the segment, about his first view of the Statue of Liberty as a child, and the promise that America represents, and I swear you'll get chills. Would you vote for this man for Governor? I think maybe I would.

categories: Celebrities, Media, Politics
posted by Emily at 5:03 PM | #