The only career goal I ever set in life was when I was seventeen years old. I wanted to fill in for Rush Limbaugh. Mission accomplished. Doing that was the coolest thing ever.
That’s why it has been so miserable these past few months watching good friends of mine tell me they no longer listen, they wish he’d retire, etc. They are mad at Rush for not rejecting the Republican nominee. The truth of the matter, however, is this — had Republicans spent time listening to Rush Limbaugh instead of trying unsuccessfully to use him for their own ends, we would not be in this place.
Fill in for Rush and you’ll get a sense of this. In three hours, particularly on Friday, Rush will take phone calls from all over the United States. Within a month he has talked to people from every state and then some. Behind the scenes he is checking emails from people around the world. The first time I ever got a reply from Rush I was in law school and floored that a man of his stature actually read his own emails. To this day I refuse to out source the review of my emails to someone else because of Rush. To become a friend of Rush’s and David’s, his brother, has been a real blessing. They have always been willing to offer sound advice to me as my career as grown and to also offer counsel when I’ve gone off the rails. They are two well raised men.
I say this because Rush has served as a canary in the coal mines for the right. He is deeply perceptive of conservative sentiment across the heartland. For years now he has said a few things that have come home this election.
First, he has pointed out repeatedly that the base of the GOP is deeply upset with Republicans in Washington. They are deeply upset with the seeming unwillingness of Republicans to stand up first to President Bush then to President Obama.
Second, he has pointed out that the conservatism preached inside Washington is not the conservatism that relates to people outside Washington. It is not that conservatism does not work, but that Washington conservatives have failed to practice what they preach and they have failed to preach it in a manner relatable to those who did not go to the Ivy League.
Third, he has pointed out consistently for the past several years that if Republicans did not get a clue, the base was going to abandon them for someone else.
Fourth, he pointed out that the GOP’s constant insistence that it opposes amnesty only to see its elected officials pushing it full steam ahead was going to kill the party.
Fifth, he has pointed out that as the GOP’s political interests move more toward the Chamber of Commerce and the donor class, the voters the party depends on are going to feel increasingly alienated. Rejecting Main Street for Wall Street is not something the party should do.
Lastly, and more importantly, Rush has long held that if Republicans offer up a Democrat-lite candidate, voters, like Coca-Cola drinkers, are going for actual Democrats because you can’t beat the real thing.
In the past several weeks there have been a series of pieces written by the left gleefully calling for the death of conservative talk radio and a bunch of Republicans have zealously championed the cause. But most of these Republicans were Republicans who hated Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio well before Campaign 2016.
I have a hard time taking seriously a bunch of people who hated Rush before this year suddenly demanding he be silenced. That’s not to say everyone is in that camp. There are some who really do feel betrayed by Rush because they do not see Trump as conservative and have long seen Rush as the popular market standard bearer for conservatism. I get that and understand that concern. I have several good friends who are die hard Rush fans who just can’t listen anymore because of this season.
But those are not the people participating in the stories about conservative talk radio. A good many of those participating in these stories are people who were either unsuccessful at national talk radio and have now found their niche as “truth tellers” against conservative talk or those who, ironically, long were upset that Rush didn’t toe the GOP line and are now horrified that Rush would actually not throw the GOP nominee under the bus.
The people who cheered when Rush suddenly had McCain on his show after opposing him and the people who cheered when Rush supported Romney after opposing him, are suddenly horrified that, yet again, Rush is supporting the Republican nominee.
Many of my friends say Rush sold out in the primaries. I disagree and think he gets a bad rap due to others on radio who are not as good or as smart as Rush.
Rush never endorsed Trump in the primaries. He said definitely that Cruz was the conservative. To the extend he praised Trump, he praised Trump’s abilities to twist the media and the GOP in knots exposing the very problems I listed above that Rush has long warned about. The rise of Trump is not because of people like Rush, but because Republican elites in Washington long ignored the things Rush was learning about and saying of heartland Republicans upset with D.C.
Whether Trump wins or loses next week, the center-right is going to be tempted to have some sort of great purging. I realize that I am now the recipient of all sorts of “new found respect” for not going along with Trump. But I do so because I’m a Christian conservative and do not think Trump is one, nor do I find him to be a moral person worthy of my support. I do not do so because I’m suddenly establishmentarian or on the left. It was, in fact, the Republican establishment that aligned with Trump against Ted Cruz.
When the pitch forks come, I have no doubt that though Rush and I are not aligned right now in sentiment on Trump, I’m with him, not the people who have long hoped to rid the world of conservative talk radio and now pretend to do so for some noble good.
If Republicans lamenting Trump and hating on Rush had only listened to Rush and taken his counsel that he gives for free three hours a day, five days a week, the GOP would not be in this mess.
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