Rush Limbaugh's True Contribution

Leftists renewed their decades-long attacks on Rush Limbaugh last week as he announced a serious illness and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Leftists celebrate his illness and somehow deny that a non-soldier should receive this civilian award.  They deny the worth of his contribution to the nation while castigating his political views.  Conservatives try to support the award with reference to Limbaugh's charity work, the size of his audience, or his many years on the air.  While the conservatives are correct, both sides miss the point.

In order to understand how important Rush has been to America, we must remember the early 1980s and before.  Conservatives such as President Reagan were the subject of relentless attacks in the media, popular culture, and the education establishment.  It would be years before the internet, with all of its opportunity for communication and information, became generally available.  Cable television was in its infancy.  When we wanted to read or hear conservative opinion to counterbalance the prevailing culture, we could read two or three columns in the newspaper every week from writers such as George Will, William Buckley, and William Safire (there were a few others).  That was about it.  Those columns were all that we had to bolster us as we endured our schoolteachers, professors, television news, sitcoms, movies, magazines, popular music, etc.  Those columns had barely enough space to defend President Reagan's programs from the misrepresentations of the evening "news."  They certainly were inadequate to respond to the entire weight of popular culture with its daily messages of appeasement, promiscuousness, secularism, and the ever-present demands for government handouts.  They were even less capable of keeping up with the daily brainwashing from the public schools and colleges of America. 

We discovered any source of information beyond those weekly columns purely by happenstance.  I found old, forgotten books on the shelves of libraries.  Those books made me understand the emptiness and shallowness of popular culture and its political message.  They also showed me that the messages and history "lessons" from school were superficial and politically motivated. 

But knowledge has its drawbacks.  I felt alone in the midst of popular culture and government education.  I had become the main character in some dystopian novel.  Almost everyone else appeared to be the dystopian subjects — proceeding mindlessly through life with the help of Soma, while totally depending on Big Brother for knowledge.

I could not know that I was not alone.  There were millions of others who were (and are) equally out of step with the government-media industrial complex.  The "silent majority" has existed for many decades.  But we had no voice in popular culture.  We had no connections in Hollywood.  We are silenced by speech codes on campus.  We had no way of knowing our own strength.  Without any representation in popular culture, we were isolated.  We were prisoners in solitary confinement.  With isolation that thorough, there could be little communication among the prisoners.  The information blackout left us with nothing to discuss and no way of identifying our own allies.  But in 1988, that isolation ended. 

Never had so many people been so ready for one talk show host.  When Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves in 1988, it was as if a dam had burst.  Rush's conservatism went beyond mere recitation of Republican talking points.  He did more than simply oppose taxes, crime, and deficit spending.  He added humor to his message.  He discussed his ideas philosophically, displaying a deep understanding of the underpinnings of our beliefs.  He remembered things that the establishment wanted to forget.  He never forgot a news story or a sound bite.  He made it harder for the media "giants" to change their stories at the drop of a hat.  He set his arguments to music.  He joked and sang where others before him were scared.  He showed no fear. 

Just as importantly, we quickly learned that others were joining in on the fun.  People were talking about Rush.  Conservatism was not merely something to be found in old books in a library basement.  The dystopian script was disappearing.  I was no longer alone (I never really had been).  I began to see bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and campaign-style buttons promoting Rush.  Friends discussed the show often.  I encountered "Rush rooms" in restaurants.  "Dan's Bake Sale" exceeded all expectations and received tremendous publicity.  Rush had forced his way into popular culture and brought the rest of us with him. 

We realized that our beliefs were shared by many and that we had power.  Rush was the Voice of America broadcasting through the Iron Curtain.  Like the prisoners of the Iron Curtain, we needed these broadcasts for more than mere information.  We needed to know that our fellow prisoners knew the truth also.  The liberating and unifying effect of these broadcasts sometimes translated into election results that we never dreamed possible.  The unity that Rush provided helped stop some of the worst Clinton programs and gave us the momentum that resulted in the historic congressional elections of 1994 that liberated Congress for the first time in four decades.  There is nothing so dangerous to a totalitarian as a unified people that know they are not alone.

At least partially because of Rush, socialized medicine was delayed by decades.  Millions of children were able to grow up without facing the medical horrors that are common in Europe, Canada, and other socialist countries.  Millions of Americans now own guns because the gun control schemes of the 1990s were delayed or reversed.  Many other leftist causes face skepticism and doubt because conservatives across the country have the courage and unity to say "no."

While social media and cable television now provide for much of the communication that unifies conservatives, Rush was first.  The Rush phenomenon gave us the confidence to use the internet and speak out on the issues that matter.  The "dittoheads" of the 1990s became the pajama-wearing amateur journalists that would bedevil Dan Rather, CBS, and the rest of the establishment media in the following decade.  The "deplorables" of our most recent election can similarly trace their lineage back to the enthusiasm that began in the early days of Rush. 

Whether one agrees with Rush or not, it is undeniable that he has changed our world.  In fact, we have changed our own world.  But Rush has been the catalyst.  Only by recognizing Rush's true contribution can we carry it forward into every form of media that we may yet encounter.  Only by remembering what he has done for us can we avoid the isolation that characterizes the victims of every dystopia.  The medal that President Trump gave to him is a small price to pay for the contribution he has made to the lives of millions of Americans over many years.

Leftists renewed their decades-long attacks on Rush Limbaugh last week as he announced a serious illness and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  Leftists celebrate his illness and somehow deny that a non-soldier should receive this civilian award.  They deny the worth of his contribution to the nation while castigating his political views.  Conservatives try to support the award with reference to Limbaugh's charity work, the size of his audience, or his many years on the air.  While the conservatives are correct, both sides miss the point.

In order to understand how important Rush has been to America, we must remember the early 1980s and before.  Conservatives such as President Reagan were the subject of relentless attacks in the media, popular culture, and the education establishment.  It would be years before the internet, with all of its opportunity for communication and information, became generally available.  Cable television was in its infancy.  When we wanted to read or hear conservative opinion to counterbalance the prevailing culture, we could read two or three columns in the newspaper every week from writers such as George Will, William Buckley, and William Safire (there were a few others).  That was about it.  Those columns were all that we had to bolster us as we endured our schoolteachers, professors, television news, sitcoms, movies, magazines, popular music, etc.  Those columns had barely enough space to defend President Reagan's programs from the misrepresentations of the evening "news."  They certainly were inadequate to respond to the entire weight of popular culture with its daily messages of appeasement, promiscuousness, secularism, and the ever-present demands for government handouts.  They were even less capable of keeping up with the daily brainwashing from the public schools and colleges of America. 

We discovered any source of information beyond those weekly columns purely by happenstance.  I found old, forgotten books on the shelves of libraries.  Those books made me understand the emptiness and shallowness of popular culture and its political message.  They also showed me that the messages and history "lessons" from school were superficial and politically motivated. 

But knowledge has its drawbacks.  I felt alone in the midst of popular culture and government education.  I had become the main character in some dystopian novel.  Almost everyone else appeared to be the dystopian subjects — proceeding mindlessly through life with the help of Soma, while totally depending on Big Brother for knowledge.

I could not know that I was not alone.  There were millions of others who were (and are) equally out of step with the government-media industrial complex.  The "silent majority" has existed for many decades.  But we had no voice in popular culture.  We had no connections in Hollywood.  We are silenced by speech codes on campus.  We had no way of knowing our own strength.  Without any representation in popular culture, we were isolated.  We were prisoners in solitary confinement.  With isolation that thorough, there could be little communication among the prisoners.  The information blackout left us with nothing to discuss and no way of identifying our own allies.  But in 1988, that isolation ended. 

Never had so many people been so ready for one talk show host.  When Rush Limbaugh took to the airwaves in 1988, it was as if a dam had burst.  Rush's conservatism went beyond mere recitation of Republican talking points.  He did more than simply oppose taxes, crime, and deficit spending.  He added humor to his message.  He discussed his ideas philosophically, displaying a deep understanding of the underpinnings of our beliefs.  He remembered things that the establishment wanted to forget.  He never forgot a news story or a sound bite.  He made it harder for the media "giants" to change their stories at the drop of a hat.  He set his arguments to music.  He joked and sang where others before him were scared.  He showed no fear. 

Just as importantly, we quickly learned that others were joining in on the fun.  People were talking about Rush.  Conservatism was not merely something to be found in old books in a library basement.  The dystopian script was disappearing.  I was no longer alone (I never really had been).  I began to see bumper stickers, coffee mugs, and campaign-style buttons promoting Rush.  Friends discussed the show often.  I encountered "Rush rooms" in restaurants.  "Dan's Bake Sale" exceeded all expectations and received tremendous publicity.  Rush had forced his way into popular culture and brought the rest of us with him. 

We realized that our beliefs were shared by many and that we had power.  Rush was the Voice of America broadcasting through the Iron Curtain.  Like the prisoners of the Iron Curtain, we needed these broadcasts for more than mere information.  We needed to know that our fellow prisoners knew the truth also.  The liberating and unifying effect of these broadcasts sometimes translated into election results that we never dreamed possible.  The unity that Rush provided helped stop some of the worst Clinton programs and gave us the momentum that resulted in the historic congressional elections of 1994 that liberated Congress for the first time in four decades.  There is nothing so dangerous to a totalitarian as a unified people that know they are not alone.

At least partially because of Rush, socialized medicine was delayed by decades.  Millions of children were able to grow up without facing the medical horrors that are common in Europe, Canada, and other socialist countries.  Millions of Americans now own guns because the gun control schemes of the 1990s were delayed or reversed.  Many other leftist causes face skepticism and doubt because conservatives across the country have the courage and unity to say "no."

While social media and cable television now provide for much of the communication that unifies conservatives, Rush was first.  The Rush phenomenon gave us the confidence to use the internet and speak out on the issues that matter.  The "dittoheads" of the 1990s became the pajama-wearing amateur journalists that would bedevil Dan Rather, CBS, and the rest of the establishment media in the following decade.  The "deplorables" of our most recent election can similarly trace their lineage back to the enthusiasm that began in the early days of Rush. 

Whether one agrees with Rush or not, it is undeniable that he has changed our world.  In fact, we have changed our own world.  But Rush has been the catalyst.  Only by recognizing Rush's true contribution can we carry it forward into every form of media that we may yet encounter.  Only by remembering what he has done for us can we avoid the isolation that characterizes the victims of every dystopia.  The medal that President Trump gave to him is a small price to pay for the contribution he has made to the lives of millions of Americans over many years.