How This Podcaster Turned Tragedies into Patriotic Talk

The host of 'Political Spirits' gets personal about the birth of his right-leaning show

I’m often asked why I launched my podcast, but the answer is so personal I’m sometimes reluctant to share it.

Often professional changes arise from tragedy. I’m not quite sure how often those changes arise from not one but two tragic events. But before addressing the origins of “Political Spirits,” let’s talk about its message.

The podcast delivers the positive message that the Left and the Right need to have a few drinks and talk. People often mistakenly believe that I’m promoting compromise.

I don’t intend that at all.Whatfinger News

What I mean when I say the Left and the Right need to talk is that for our society to function we have to engage with one another. We have to know what our fellow citizens think, and we shouldn’t lose a friend or be ostracized at work or in our social circles just because our political beliefs differ.

I recognize, however, that what should happen and what has actually happened, especially recently, often doesn’t match. I’m trying to change that, and to be brutally honest, I have an ulterior motive.

Political Conservatism is the better idea. The more we talk, the more that becomes apparent, and frankly our political system was designed to function best with conversation.

We’ve moved away from that, and I’m trying to nudge us back in the right direction with the podcast.

And we haven’t just veered slightly off course. Conservative views and those expressing them have been demonized by the Left. And, unfortunately, in our society the persons with the bullhorns, with the amplified voices that influence our culture, are predominantly on the left. Think Hollywood, the news media, academia and corporate entities. They’re all are either controlled by those speaking from a left wing perspective or operate in fear of backlash from the left.

In fact, the modern Left is dramatically farther to the left than in the past. A Pew research study looked into the issue and found that from 1994 to the present the Democrat Party moved dramatically farther to the left than the Republican Party moved to the right.

That movement left me extremely concerned about the future of our country, and for years I would express my concerns to my friends and, most of all, my wife. It made me want to return in some way to an earlier period in my career, when I spent 16 years in Government Affairs, working public policy matters at the federal, state and local level nationwide.

Perhaps I could in some small way help turn the country around.

So how did such a positive podcast, “Political Spirits,” arise from not one but two tragedies? The first was sudden, unexpected and incredibly jarring. In one horrible step it ripped away nearly all my assumptions and expectations for the future.

My wife passed away suddenly and unexpectedly and far, far too young.

Everything Changed in a Flash

Not only had I lost my soulmate and the mother of my children, and the person I expected to spend the rest of my life with, but I also lost my sounding board, the person who I burdened with all my protestations about the state of our country’s politics and the terrifying direction in which the Democratic Party was taking our country.

In the aftermath of her death I thought about starting a podcast, but frankly my focus was elsewhere. We had a traditional marriage where I worked long hours to make as much money as possible while she managed the home, supported our kids in school and logged so many volunteer hours in support of the school that those efforts alone were almost a full-time equivalent.

Now, all of her support was gone. I was a single parent trying to get two kids through the remainder of their high school years.

Even though I needed to start a podcast, it wasn’t the right time.

But as I struggled to get the hang of single parenthood tragedy number two struck. Two of our kids were in their senior year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla, the site of the 2018 mass shooting.

My kids were impacted. I was impacted. But we were among the lucky ones. My kids weren’t in the 1200 Build-ing, where a crazed gunman shot 34 of their fellow students, teachers and friends, killing 17 of them.

Instead they were in the building right next door, perhaps 50 feet away, and they could hear the shots, one after another. I know people whose kids were killed. I know people whose children were right next to other children when they were shot and died. As bad as it has been for my family, it has been so much worse for so many others.

In the days after that tragedy I watched the news coverage and became more and more dismayed.

Fake News in Real Time

Even as I have become increasingly disenchanted with the news media, I still expected to see some semblance of journalism. Surely the media would make an attempt to get at the truth of what happened and whether it could have been prevented.

Instead what I watched was the media in essence reach into their files and pull out “mass shooting because no gun control laws story” and run with it. CNN was the worst offender, turning the tragedy into a full on political event.

In the end CNN did perform one useful function. They let Broward County’s incompetent Sheriff, Scott Israel, make a fool of himself by declaring that he showed “amazing leadership” in connection with the shooting.

That interview secured his downfall, and I was one of the parents who traveled to Tallahassee to ensure that the state Senate removed him from office after the governor suspended him.

The first EIGHT officers from the Broward Sheriffs Office to arrive on scene hid behind their cars or walls or trees or left the area of the 1200 building instead of going inside to engage the shooter. Kids were still being killed and the gunshots could be heard while they took up distant positions.

It was an institutional level failure, perhaps not surprising because the Broward Sheriff conducted a fraction of the active shooter training conducted by the neighboring Coral Springs Police.

Even worse?

The Broward Sheriff had changed protocol to advise that deputies “may” rather than “shall” engage an active shooter. In contrast, when the Coral Springs police arrived, they went right into the building, but the shooter had already snuck out.

Fellow conservative Parkland father Andrew Pollack has written a moving and disturbing book, “Why Meadow Died,” which details the nearly endless string of government failures that culminated in the shooting which took his daughter’s life. He has described it as the most preventable mass shooting in history, and I think he’s right.

Why the Gun Control Narrative Didn’t Fit

None of what made it preventable has anything to do with gun control. Instead it has everything to do with incompetent and unaccountable bureaucrats, political correctness and government changing the rules so that it can pretend it is solving problems while making things worse.

And the news media’s failure to investigate in the immediate aftermath of the shooting, and to instead turn it into a political event, is what finally drove me to start my podcast. If the news media isn’t going to tell the truth, or even try, then at least I can present the public with news and opinion that doesn’t push the mainstream media narrative.

My podcast has not been focused on the shooting. However, one Episode, “Broken PROMISE” tells how a fundamentally flawed government program helped create the atmosphere where the shooter could avoid the arrest which might have prevented the shooting. Another episode focused on my trip to Tallahassee to help secure the Sheriff’s removal.

Pollack has done the lion’s share of the work publicizing the government failures that led to the tragedy.

I have focused on a myriad of other issues on the podcast, including:

  • The Democrat Party is on a dangerous course for the future of the country
  • Words are not violence, and those who treat them as such are a threat to the First Amendment and to our freedoms
  • Illegal immigration harms those at the bottom end of the economy most
  • Educational institutions which don’t present a diversity of opinions are not educational institutions at all’
  • Allowing biological males who identify as females to compete against biological women in women’s sports is wrong and threatens the existence of women’s sports
  • For the good of the country, and also of the Democrat party, Donald Trump must be reelected resoundingly in 2020 so that he can finish the work he has begun and the Democrat party can finally realize that it must move towards the center.

I can truly say that my podcast is a labor of love. Each new episode invigorates me, and with each installment I move further from those tragic events of Valentine’s Day, 2018.

Sometimes the politics of our country seem tragic, but I have faith that in the end we just tend to do the right thing. And when I look at polling of Generation Z and the conservatism that comes through in the results, my faith is borne out.

If the “Political Spirits” podcast can help nudge it in that direction, that’s an achievement of which I can be proud, and would certainly qualify as a recovery from tragedy.

You can listen to Political Spirits at the show’s official web page or just search for Political Spirits podcast in your search engine. I’ve also created a secondary site,, featuring The Eleven Maxims of Political Spirits and video snippets for the most recent episodes. The site will soon include a forum to help raise your own Political Spirits.

Franklin Rye is host of Political Spirits, a weekly podcast which focuses primarily on national, and some international, political issues and news events. He’s been a practicing attorney for 33 years, as both in-house and outside counsel, representing major corporations, including some of the largest multinationals. (under his given name O. Mason Hurst, II – Franklin Rye is his stage name for the podcast.)

Filip Bunkens

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