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Why Our Books, Movies and Music Are the Catalysts of Politics

Many culturally induced nerve endings, hidden from the view of polls and focus groups, help determine political currents.

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Cosby Show

never touched.


Looking to the future, the next decade’s power elite will have grown up in the Clinton era when grunge and hip hop exploded, when

The West Wing

mapped out a positive case for government like no cultural product before it, and when

The Lion King

extolled “the circle of life.” And when

A Bronx Tale

gave us Robert DeNiro as a bus driver named Lorenzo telling his son not to admire the local gangster: “Get up every day and work for a living! Let's see him try that! We'll see who's really tough. The working man is tough.”


And even in the nineteen fifties, idealized by Reagan and the other classic Michael J. Fox franchise

Back To The Future

, there was

The Birth Of The Cool

and Ginsberg and Kerouac and Brando and Dean. There was

Catcher In The Rye

and Raymond Chandler’s 1953 novel

The Long Goodbye

. If you adjust the numbers for inflation the following passage could have been written yesterday:

There ain’t no clean way to make a hundred million bucks,” Ohls said. “Maybe the head man thinks his hands are clean but somewhere along the line, guys got pushed to the wall, nice little businesses got the ground cut out from under them and had to sell out for nickels. Decent people lost their jobs, stocks got rigged on the market, proxies got bought up like pennyweight of old gold and the five percenters and the big law firms got paid hundred grand fees for beating some law the people wanted but the rich guys didn’t on account it cut into their profits.”


So despite the presence of psychic toxins left by Reaganism, America’s future is still up for grabs. If we come to grips with the cynical toxins of Reaganism we may yet marginalize them from the ruling psychology of our country, even without a visit from a higher being like ET.

Danny Goldberg was CEO of Air America Radio from 2005 until mid-2006. He is president of Gold Village Entertainment and has worked in the music business since the late 1960s. Check out his blog .

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