He could be anywhere. In front of you in the HyVee checkout line, or maybe behind. Go to church? Careful, now: The man known as Driftglass is an usher. The church’s name, like Driftglass’s true identity, is best kept confidential. He claims, even swears, that he does not take money from the collection plate.
This is what it’s like for a diehard liberal who’s spent the past decade podcasting from Springfield in a blue version of Rush Limbaugh, pointing out the foibles of Republicans, CNN, Fox News and other GOP enablers in the media. He has a job, he pays taxes, but he occasionally encounters Republicans in his professional life, and so Driftglass is not necessarily eager to go on Front Street, even though he and his wife, Frances Langum, aka Blue Gal, produce a weekly podcast that is available to anyone with internet access.
“I don’t want my politics to get in the room before I do,” explains Driftglass of his insistence on anonymity. His moniker comes from a collection of science fiction short stories authored by Samuel Delany. “It means industrial waste glass that has been pounded into something that looks beautiful.”
After more than 400 episodes, Langum and her husband have this down pat. With themselves as bosses, butter-smooth voices made for radio and no commercials to squeeze in, their podcast lasts about an hour, and if it runs a few minutes over or under, no biggie. It sounds remarkably professional as the couple sprints from one topic to the next, with nary an “er” or “ah” or “um” marking time as they consider what they should say next.
They do their homework, making notes throughout the week so that they can discuss such nearly forgotten Republicans as Jacob Javits (worthy of respect) alongside more familiar names such as Newt Gingrich (boo, hiss) with aplomb.
They don’t flinch from f-bombs, and the media isn’t spared. Fox News? “It helps to understand it as a puppet show,” Driftglass says. Donald Trump’s least-favorite network is no better. “CNN puts red ants and black ants in a jar, shakes them up and passes it off as debate and drama,” Langum asserts. How about public radio? “Nice, polite Republicans – that’s what NPR stands for among liberals,” she says. The couple rejects notions that both the right and left are up to the same tricks in a never-ending battle for hearts and minds.
“We give our listeners a vocabulary to understand the world that we live in,” Driftglass says. “When you turn on CNN, you see this nonsense. Every time you hear someone in the media say, reflexively, ‘It’s both sides, it’s both sides, it’s both sides,’ that’s an enabling mechanism for conservatives.”
The couple’s fans are nationwide, as became apparent when the New York Times recently ran a story on Pod Save America, a podcast produced by refugees from the Obama administration who have a reported 1.5 million listeners. Langum and Driftglass, who call their show The Professional Left, have considerably fewer, but a handful jumped in on the comment section accompanying the Times story, praising the Springfield couple. Graphics on their website, which features a cornfield and The Cornfield Resistance as a tagline, are top notch and came courtesy of a listener in Texas. Austin, naturally.
Listeners can’t call in, but being a couple helps the show, they say.
“It’s a conversation between two people who really care about each other,” Langum says. “We are also two married people who are raising kids who are in the public school system. I’m making sure my son, who has autism, has health insurance. That’s how people connect. These are real people, really talking to people about their problems.”
They confess they were surprised by Trump’s election.
“Hillary Clinton had a 92-percent chance of winning,” Langum says. “That’s why she lost. We got soft. We believed America was too good to vote for Donald Trump and elect him.”
The day after the election, Driftglass told listeners that he and his wife were better positioned to explain Trump’s victory than talking heads on cable television. They didn’t draw a pretty picture.
“We live in the middle of middle America,” he said a year ago. “We have been saying, as liberals, ‘This is a divided country.’ There are two Americas out there. You’d better get it through your head: One of them wants to kick the shit out of the other one just to wipe the smug look off our face. They don’t care about policy. They don’t care about the environment. They care about making liberals cry.”
Have they made a difference?
“We certainly have formed a community, which is what successful podcasts do,” Langum says. “We’re here to provide solace and remind people that it’s possible to hold two ideas in your head at the same time.”
Listen to The Professional Left at http//professionalleft.blogspot.com.
Contact Bruce Rushton at [email protected].