Life-long Democrat Jerry Springer says, for the first time in his 73-years, the very idea of what America stands for is being challenged.
Springer, a long-time TV talk show host, was in Normal to emcee a stage production of The Price Is Right, and also took time to speak to School of Communication students at Illinois State University. He also spoke with Willis Kern during an edition of Sound Ideas.
Springer, whose first foray into national politics was as an advisor to 1968 presidential hopeful Robert F. Kennedy, said America is the only country in the world to be created by an idea.
"Every other country starts out by being some kind of tribe, ethnic group, race or whatever. Maybe they get some land and it becomes a kingdom or an empire. America started out as an idea and they created the country on that idea," Springer said.
In lock-step with that idea is the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Statue of Liberty, he said.
"Now, all of a sudden, certain religions aren't welcome here? It's so frightening and that's why you're seeing people taking to the streets. I'd like to think that most people want to keep that idea. But, we'll find out what the answer is," Springer added.
When he speaks to college students, he frequently challenges them to make a difference and pay more attention to their citizenship. Is that an easier sell these days?
"You can't be alive and not be aware of the fundamental changes that are going on in our country, which is kind of unsettling," said Springer.
The Jerry Springer Show has been a ratings bonanza for most of the nearly-25 years it's been on television. It's provocative and loud, but often deals with marital infidelity, race and LGBTQ issues. Springer admits it's only a side show to what is happening in America.
"The show is a circus and that's all it's meant to be. A side effect of it is maybe it opens up a set of issues to people who might not be otherwise aware. But I'm not pretending the show is something it's not. It's one hour of escapism," Springer said.
Springer's resume includes his TV show, as well as hosting America's Got Talent, guesting on Dancing With the Stars, he ran for Congress and was mayor of Cincinnati before concentrating on entertainment.
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