Reason mag's Editor In Chief Matt Welch, co-author with me of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, gets grilled by Human Events' Lisa DePasquale about pop culture, politics, and his most cherished souvenir, non-political edition. Great stuff. Snippets:
In A Clockwork Orange, Malcolm McDowell is strapped in with his eyes propped open and forced to watch images until he is "cured." If you could give President Obama the "Clockwork Orange treatment," what movie would you make him watch?
WELCH: The Candidate. Not only because it's about a youthful, attractive liberal activist lawyer who, after bursting on the scene as lefty teller of then-unpopular truths, retreats into a political blank slate upon which voters cast their hopes and dreams, getting corrupted by the process of finding ever-more platitudinous middle-of-the-roadisms as he gets closer to landing the mother of all upset victories …. but because the whole worldview and tenor of the movie is one that the Left has largely let go—that of paranoid and cynical anti-authoritarianism. That era produced not only some of the best culture of the modern era, but some of its best policies, including (but not limited to) liberal-led deregulation of airlines, trucking, beer and much else besides….
How do you think pop culture and entertainment affect people's political beliefs?
WELCH: In free democracies, I think the main impact, in a kind of indirect way, is on our rapidlyevolving sense of tolerance. We see exponentially more different ways of living than we did even 10 years ago, whether it's Mormon polygamy or middle-class weed-selling or a thousand new variants on foodyism or being gay without being named "Ellen" … and all that stuff certainly reinforces acceptance of what used to be out-groups. Perhaps most importantly, we now constantly repackage and reuse culture to suit our whims, which means we are less passive receptacles and more what the press thinker Jay Rosen calls "the people formerly known as the audience." Controlling the means of cultural production is a powerful (and fun!) development, with impacts we are only beginning to vaguely understand….
What pop culture souvenir do you own that people would be surprised to learn that you cherish?
WELCH: Two different vinyl copies of Deney Terrio's Night Moves: The Professional Approach to Disco Dance Instruction. I can still do a mean box-step, if pushed. …
If Republicans and Democrats had theme songs for 2011, what would they be?
WELCH: Democrats: "I Wanna Be Sedated." Republicans: "Don't Let it End." The rest of us: "Idiot Wind."
Bonus: Last summer, dePasquale put me through the dozens experience. Read that here.