By Jack Jodell, May 17, 2011
THOM HARTMANN (1951 – ) is the 10th most important talk show host in America, and most important liberal, according to Talkers Magazine (the 9 above him are all conservatives). Hartmann, an unabashed progressive, describes himself as being part of the “radical middle.” He wrote an article entitled “Talking Back to Talk Radio” which became the business plan for the liberal Air America Radio Network.
Of Norwegian descent, Hartmann was born to an atheist father and a Christian mother in Grand Rapids, MI. He dropped out of college (Michigan State) in the late 1960s to pursue an education in alternative medicine. He attained a Chartered Herbalist degree from Dominion Herbal College, a Master of Herbology degree from Emerson College of Herbology, and finally a Ph,D in Homeopathic Medicine from Bainbridge in England. This education enables him to practice homeopathic and herbal medicine in England, Canada, India, and numerous other countries. He has also completed a postgraduate course in acupuncture from the Beijing International Acupuncture Institute, the world’s largest accredited accupuncture teaching hospital. He is also a licensed and certified NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) Practicioner and Trainer and is a rostered Psychotherapist in the State of Vermont. But his thirst for knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit didn’t allow him to be confined strictly to alternative medicine. He has also owned and/or sold a number of other businesses, among which have been an herbal products and tea company, a newsletter/magazine publishing company, an international travel wholesale and retail agency, an advertising and marketing agency, and a training company presenting nationwide seminars. He began the New England Salem Children’s Village, a non-profit corporation whose primary purpose is to provide a home and nurturing for neglected and emotionally disturbed children. Through this program, he helped start international relief programs in Uganda, Russia, India, Australia, Colombia, and a number of other countries.
Hartmann is also a prolific writer who has written books on a wide variety of topics. His works have gained him the attention of such diverse figures as the Dalai Lama, the late Pope John Paul II, and Gore Vidal. One might be tempted to think that, with such a strong business background, Thom Hartmann would be a firm believer in modern-day conservative Republican principles of Bush’s tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy, as well as an ardent supporter of “free market” economics and globalization. But that is definitely not the case!
Oddly enough, Thom Hartmann’s first foray into politics occurred at the age of 13, when he campaigned for 1964’s unsuccessful Republican Party nominee, Barry Goldwater. Four years later, while a student at Michigan State, he began to see the folly and injustice of the Vietnam War, so he did a political about-face and permanently divorced himself from conservative ideology and abandoned his allegiance to the Republican Party. He began working as a DJ and eventually became a radio station programmer. His interest in radio broadcasting never left him, and he has repeatedly returned to the airwaves even as he involved himself with his other businesses. His show, The Thom Hartmann Show, is now carried on Sirius and XM satellite radio, 72 terrestrial radio stations in 33 states, and is simulcast on TV’s Dish Network channel 9415 via the Free Speech network, as well as several other local cable networks. More than half of the guests on his program are conservatives, Ayn Rand institute types, or libertarians, with whom he engages in lively debate. On the other, more sensible side of the political spectrum, Sen. Bernie Sanders is a regular Friday guest. Hartmann ends every show with the phrase, “Activism begins with you. Democracy begins with you. Get out there, get active! Tag, you’re it!”
Thom Hartmann’s 1997 blockbuster book, Cracking the Code: How to Win Hearts, Change Minds, and Restore America’s Original Vision is a MUST-READ FOR EVERY PROGRESSIVE! In it, he outlines how our original Founding Fathers did NOT envision our country as a bastion of aristocracy. as conservatives so often errantly claim. He points out that conservatives didn’t invent the path to persuasive messaging, and he shows how progressives can beat them at this very game they have been playing so successfully for so long. It is a guidebook on how to counter the lies and disinformation campaigns so cherished by the extreme right. It helps one inderstand how the brain processes information, how decisions are made, and how that influences people’s perception and world view. It is THE most effective guide to help you win a political discussion or neutralize a far-right talking point. If enough progressives begin understanding and utilizing this technique, we may yet be able to vanquish these idiots like Rush Limbaugh, Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, or Mike Huckabee forever from our politics. So tell your progressive friends, and READ THIS BOOK!
I have a number of favorite quotes from Thom Hartmann. He once said, “[war] is legalized mass murder, it is relegated to the measure of last resort by civilized people the world over. The majority of the civilized world was horrified when the United States launched a preemptive war on Iraq without the authorization of the United Nations.” He has also commented, “Conservatives view the world as a dangerous and evil place and believe people to be fundamentally selfish. Liberals view the world as a natural and harmonius place and believe people to be fundamentally good.” Another time, he mentioned, “What the cons [conservative Republicans] don’t say is that the reason they want a smaller government is because they can make an enormous amount of money when they privatize formerly government functions. They want a power vacuum so that corporations and the rich can step in and profit from things that used to be nonprofit…One in twenty Americans is now getting water from a non-U.S. corporation that is extracting profits from local American communities and taking those profits overseas… CEOs are looking forward to more Gulfstreams and nicer yachts, while America’s middle class is paying more and more for basic and necessary services.”
There is a lot to like in Thom Hartmann. He has excelled in the business community without cashing in his principles. He speaks fairness and common sense. He should be an inspiration and motivator for all of us to help us beat back the rampant dishonesty being foisted on this nation by lying, far-right conservative reactionaries. I would strongly urge each and every progressive to read his books and listen to and/or watch his program. For those without easy access to those sources, much of his material is available on YouTube, and it would be well worth your visit!
COMING SOON TO THIS SERIES: Rachel Maddow