- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

Broadcaster and political personality Laura Ingraham has written a new book with populist idealism at its core: “Power to the People,” published by Regnery Publishing Inc. In it, Miss Ingraham shares deeply personal stories from her life and career: her difficult tenure at CBS amid the network’s political correctness; her triumph over cancer and being grateful to God for the experience; and her successful on-air campaign earlier this year that saw telecommunications giant Verizon drop its tour sponsorship of rap artist Akon, whose on-stage antics she decries as assisting the “pornification” of America.

graham shares deeply personal stories from her life and career: her difficult tenure at CBS amid the network’s political correctness; her triumph over cancer and being grateful to God for the experience; and her successful on-air campaign earlier this year that saw telecommunications giant Verizon drop its tour sponsorship of rap artist Akon, whose on-stage antics she decries as assisting the “pornification” of America.

From immigration to education to judicial activism and family life, Miss Ingraham weaves humor with a huge dose of hope using anecdotes that decry the dismantling of the culture. Throughout the pages, she also shows people how they can find their own voice and use their energy to bring about real societal change. We spoke with her about her vision for taking back the nation.

Question: Why did you write this book and why now?

Answer: I think it’s important that we recognize what has happened to our country, politically and culturally. Once we recognize the damage that has been done to the public confidence and trust, and our political leadership, and we talk a look at what used to be done in pride of the American culture, we can figure out what are we going to do about it.

This book sets us off on a pathway to change the dynamic. I think it’s a critical time for us. So much is happening with new technology that gets images and information to us 24-7. A lot of it is good, but a lot is dangerous and damaging. I think parents need some guardrails and are trying to figure out which way to turn.

This book gives them a series of practical steps that they can take. What is a country except the people in it? If people sit on the sidelines and complain about how “pornified” it is or out how the politics are so corrupt, and they don’t get in the game … if we don’t suit up and do battle ourselves, we can’t really be surprised when we don’t recognize this country any more. From liberals to conservatives or moderates, I don’t think anyone likes it the way this country is going. I think the average workaday people in this country are fed up. They want to put their righteous anger into a position of action for change.

Q: Who do you hope will read it?

A: I think it’s a rallying cry for common sense and good old-fashioned American ideals of patriotism, family, faith and country … for all of us who want to restore any sense of civic pride that can really make this country great — anyone and everyone. I think people who are not political are really at sea.

They are busy, they work two jobs, and they can’t buy their 12-year-old a decent outfit that doesn’t make them look like a stripper. They are going to Abercrombie & Fitch, and they can’t walk around the mall without seeing sexually provocative posters hanging in the mall, women in bras and panties at Victoria’s Secret. This book is just as much for those who aren’t political junkies who are looking for a lifeline in this culture of sewage. I don’t know how much lower we can go in this country.

Q: Your tone in the book is, not surprisingly, very patriotic. Do you believe that there is a groundswell in the country for standing up and taking back important values? Or have we let it go with the September 11 attacks so far in the rearview?

A: I think the moment of national unity was so brief. I was on the air in my radio show at the time. I said this is going to last about three months. By the end of December, sure enough, [then-South Dakota Democratic Sen.] Tom Daschle was already making outrageous comments about the Bush administration — back to the same old nasty political back and forth.

It’s not even that it’s six years after September 11, it’s just where we are, period. Look at the VMAs [MTV’s Video Music Awards]. You have this spectacle of narcissism, materialism, lack of talent and sheer stupidity all coalescing on one stage in one hideous Las Vegas venue and not one of these freak shows mentioned the military. None of these talentless bubblebrains mentioned the sacrifice of these men and women or referenced 9/11. You contrast the image of Britney [Spears] with the lieutenant from Newark with 80 pounds on his back with 120 degree heat walking the desert and that tells you how much we are disconnected from that notion of sacrificial consequences.

The fact that senators and elected officials would question the integrity of General Petraeus. He has more integrity in his pinkie than Ted Kennedy has in his ample waistline. Today, power is more important than national unity. It’s where you get your power and how long you can hold onto it and how much money are you going to make on it.

Q: Talk about the value of families and traditional homes. Why do you think we’ve gotten so far away from that?

A: It has become politically unpalatable to hold up the traditional family as the ideal. Somehow people were led to believe merely saying having a mom and dad in the house was ideal, that you were somehow insulting people. I think there are a lot of single moms and dads who are doing a great job, struggling to raise their families. But it’s different altogether to say that all families are ideal. History has borne that out. We have civilizations built on the traditional family for 1,000 years. Children have to be at the center of what we think about the family, not what is best for our own convenience, but what is the best scenario for them. Are we really going to argue that children don’t need dads and moms?

Q: You touch on education in the book. It seems to have dropped off the political radar. And we know a lot of weirdness happens out there in the realm of educating kids. What would you say to families about this?

A: Show up in the classroom. Surprise your children’s teacher. Be an active and activist parent. Don’t leave it to the PTA or teachers unions to make decision for you. When you are displeased with something that is taught in classes, raise it. Pick up the phone. You can e-mail teachers 24-7 today. Actually be there.

Some of this is common sense. You can’t compete against the forces of the unions or the special-interest groups and lobbies that are trying to direct what happens in the classroom if you don’t show up … not everyone can home-school their kids. I had a wonderful public school education. But it was before the days of everything politically correct or it doesn’t get taught.

Ten parents that are committed to restoring curricular excellence in the school can cause a huge positive shift in the way schools pick books, classroom material, the way focus is put on history versus women’s studies. Most of it is not being afraid. Be bold because the other side is really geared up. They are bold. They are getting their points of view injected into textbooks, lobbying to do this. They are there, so you are going to have to get there. The federal government is not going to save us from incompetent teachers. We are going to have to save ourselves.

Q: You say in the book that politicians are often sellouts. Do you think it’s possible for a good person with strong convictions to get elected?

A: I think there are a lot of committed people in politics, but something happens when people come to Washington. It’s what happens when anyone joins any elite institution. I think the draw and pull to fit in, combined with the pressure of the fundraising game, it all combines to make it very difficult for someone to hold on to his or her principles and conviction unless he or she is really well-grounded.

You combine that with a 24-7 media culture where every issue and foible is highlighted. It’s tough to measure up to that. I think everything is possible. We get the leaders we deserve. We have no one to blame for the people we elect but ourselves. Did you go door to door? Did you talk to your neighbors? Did you take $25 over to help with your candidate’s signature drive? It starts with us. We elect these people.

Q: What is one practical thing that we the people can do to take back our country and culture?

A: I think one of the main things that we all can do is really study and take a lesson from all of those people who exhibit that principle of sacrificial concern on a daily basis. Giving to others — whether a mom who gives up her job for a child that she has to care for or the soldier in Iraq or kids putting together care packages for service people, or first responders who showed up for 9/11 or Katrina.

The more we focus on the cause we believe in and the people who can make a difference, if we all do more of that, anything is possible. That’s kind of a reorientation of thinking. From that, there are practical solutions in each of these areas, whether culture, family, or science or new media.

The main thread that runs through these topics I cover in the book is civic involvement and civic virtue. Get in the game. Start a blog, report on what is happening at your local PTA. If you are a parent, and you are disgusted at what you see on your kid’s computer screen, do something. Track where your kids go on the Internet. Tell your kids that you are going to review where they are on the Internet. Be a parental filter. Learn about threats that face America — from within and out. Education is the first line of defense.

If we know what the threats are out there — from terrorists funded by Iran, to people trying to sneak across the southern border, then we’ll be more energized and angry enough to do something about it. Then I hope we would do something about it. The main thing is reinvigorating a sense of our own civic virtue and sacrificial concern. That is what will save us. Not the government. We are the government.

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