August 2005 – Dr. Robert M. Walker says he’s retired, but a brief conversation with the Bloomington, Indiana, physician reveals that, in reality, he’s a busy man. After retiring from medical practice in 1993, he began to put even more effort into community affairs and activist projects which had always been a part of his life.
His retirement was prompted by heart surgery for five bypasses. Today, the 73-year-old activist uses various avenues to try to steer the culture back toward a conservative standard that the Founding Fathers would recognize. The arena in which he has been most active over the past four decades is politics. These days, he recommends Public Access Television (PAT) as a means of getting information out to citizens.
“When I first came to Bloomington in 1972, I got involved politically,” said Dr. Walker. “A friend and I were involved in an organization called Concerned Christian Citizens. We put out a voter guide that said basically that we have interviewed and evaluated the positions of the following candidates. This is where they stand on the issues that we think are important.”
Their voter guide focused on local offices and local candidates running for state office. Dr. Walker describes Bloomington as a very liberal area. He attributes the liberal bent partially to the influence of Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington.
“Monroe County is a blue county in a red state,” he said. “Ninety-seven percent of the faculty at IU voted against George W. Bush. I did a little survey on the Faculty Advisory Council – 64 people. Thirty-four are registered to vote in this county, and only one was a Republican.”
As further evidence of the liberal climate, he notes that Bloomington is the home of sex research guru Alfred Kinsey, who did his work there.
Dr. Walker laughs when he remembers one particular political race. “The guy I was supporting was running against a friend of mine,” he said. “I told him, ‘You don’t owe me a thing, but if you don’t behave yourself in office, I’ll work harder to get you out than I did to get you in!’ Sure enough, he didn’t behave himself. About two elections ago, we got him out with the same technique.”
He believes the lack of a system to track voter registration is a real problem in some areas, perhaps especially in college towns. To illustrate the problem, he said a man came into the emergency room at Bloomington Hospital and said, “Hurry up and get me out of here. I’ve already voted, and I’m flying to Florida to vote again.”
Spreading truth and the Gospel
In Bloomington, PAT is a project handled by the Monroe County Library. In a history of PAT Bill Olson says PAT is designed to do just what it implies – give the public access to the airwaves, which are by law, public property.
However, Olson writes, “Mass media have never guaranteed access by the common man. Throughout history, each new medium seemed to tip the balance of equal expression further in favor of the wealthy elite.” He says PAT in many communities with cable television, offers the common man a “new soapbox – one from which his voice can potentially reach thousands of cable subscribers.”
It may take a little digging to discover if PAT is available in one’s community. Cable companies are not required to provide it, but Dr. Walker says citizens can begin by calling the local cable company to inquire, or consult www.publicaccess.org.
PAT can be a mixed blessing, because it is pretty wide open to whatever citizens choose to air. Dr. Walker said, “There are two programs that come on our local Public Access station that are disturbing to me – Democracy Now and Free Speech TV. They’re both left-leaning, allegedly news stations.”
But PAT also offers him the option to provide conservative programming. For example, he has placed Stolen Honor, a documentary film exposing John Kerry’s questionable military record, on his local PAT. He also secured permission to record the audio of that film for free distribution.
Dr. Walker’s activist interests have always been rooted in his Christian faith. Just out of medical school in the mid-1960s, he spent three years as a medical missionary in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Africa. One of his current projects is giving away CD copies (500 so far) of the testimony of a Muslim who converted to Christianity.
He and his wife Phyllis attend Sherwood Oaks Christian Church in Bloomington. They exemplify the Biblical exhortation to be salt and light to the world.