The Corner

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Jerry Springer and Me


From Michelle Cottle’s New Republic piece (for subscribers only) on Jerry Springer and his possible bid for the Senate:

To run, Springer would give up his much-maligned show, now in its twelfth season (and for which he is paid more than $6 million per year). But he and Ford believe that the lowbrow reputation the show has earned Springer could be a political asset, giving him credibility as a fiery populist battling an elitist political class. While the demographics of Springer fans cross race, gender, and age lines, notes Ford, “the common denominator is income. Jerry’s viewers consistently earn less than the national average.” Springer adds that, while he may not be the greatest candidate, “I know I can articulate a point of view for tons of people who cannot relate to the Sunday-morning talk shows. I don’t know what kind of label you want to put on them: Are they nascar people? I don’t want to label, but they’re people who just aren’t touched [by politics]. And, for all kinds of reasons, I have a connection with them.” Springer’s voice rises and he fidgets in his chair as he recounts how, on a recent Sunday show, the pundits were sitting around making all the usual jokes about his potential candidacy. “Then one of the guys said, ‘Well, if Springer runs, that’s the argument against letting everybody vote. Because, if Springer runs–and I think the quote was, ‘We’ll have all these slack-jawed, low-life hillbillies [voting].’” (The actual quote was from National Review’s Jonah Goldberg, warning CNN’s Wolf Blitzer of the downside of high turnout: “If Jerry Springer shows up, he’ll bring all these new people to the polls. They will be slack-jawed yokels, hicks, weirdos, pervs, and whatnot.”) Springer sees his run as “a cultural battle in a sense: elitism versus the mass of Americans.” The political establishment, he says, wants you to believe that the only people I would speak to “are the crazies on the show. But it’s not. It’s the mass of Americans that are just untouched.” Only wealthy, politically active voters even show up on the radar of most politicians, he charges. “If every American had to vote, do you think for one second we’d have the laws we have that favor the wealthy in terms of tax breaks and tax shelters and all these things? Of course not. So, when [politicians] give these speeches about how great it would be to have everyone voting, they don’t mean it! And they really are scared that, if I run, everyone will come out to vote–then they wouldn’t be in office.”

For the record, Springer’s got a pretty good handle on my position. Though, just to be clear, I’ve never thought or said that high voter turnout would be a good thing.