Friday, August 08, 2008

Rush X 20

Most conservatives in their mid-thirties (yeah, that's me) cut their teeth on Rush Limbaugh. Despite the ever present National Review standing athwart history, and the Reagan years still fresh in mind, the left continued to have a stranglehold on the language and nuances on the overall public discussion. Not that lively discussion wasn't readily available to political junkies and policy wonks on shows like Crossfire and William F Buckley's much missed Firing Line. Outside these circles however, the words and ideas of what it meant to be a conservative, and the means to articulate and define your beliefs in public discourse, were largely missing. Democrats had the same old talking points that had remained unchanged since the party was hijacked by the extreme left in the mid-60's, and conservatives often fired back with the same tired old lines about their adversaries being "pinko-hippies", or resorted to religious come-backs that only served to re-enforce existing stereotypes, be it fair or not.

Then 20 years ago, a plump, cigar chomping man who was completely unapologetic about his conservatism arrived on the scene. It started with the radio show, then a short lived TV show, and then, of course, the book that changed everything...The Way Things Ought To Be. The book was revolutionary in the sense that it challenged all the iron clad assertions of the left in language that was accessible to anyone without being dumbed down. The book provided ammunition for the long suffering conservative middle class who had lacked the language and time to fight the good fight on the verbal front. The book was an immediate #1 best seller, and tore down the left's sacred cows of environmentalism, animal rights, socialism, and political correctness. Suddenly smug liberals spouting on about the ever looming environmental crisis if we didn't mend our gluttonous Western ways were smacked in the face with the question;

"Really? Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines spewed forth more than a thousand times the amount of ozone-depleting chemicals in one eruption than all the fluorocarbons manufactured by wicked, diabolical and insensitive corporations in history.... Mankind can't possibly equal the output of even one eruption from Pinatubo, much less 4 billion years' worth of them, so how can we destroy ozone?"

As William F Buckley wrote, it was "...a jolt of champagne!", and liberals were absolutely apoplectic. President Bill Clinton threw a famous temper tantrum over Limbaugh's almost daily beratement of him, and Congress even went so far as to try to muzzle him by passing an ominous sounding bill called the "fairness doctrine". All failed, and for almost 2 decades the left has tried to emulate Limbaugh's success, but have never even come close.

As a young conservative, I knew in my heart my cherished beliefs were right, but with the steady wave of liberal messages cunningly slithering their way into popular culture, it was easy to begin to assume that things like environmentalism were just readily accepted facts, instead of scare mongering being pandered about by agenda-driven special interests groups. Rush tore the roof off the liberal hen house, and things were never the same again.

I have to admit that I haven't listened to Rush in years, though I do read the occasional transcripts from his show. Limbaugh provided me with the foundation to move on to a meatier, more intellectual style of conservatism. I moved on to James Bowman, read National Review with a renewed vigour, discovered Mark Steyn and Jonah Goldberg, and gained an assurance about my ideals and beliefs that grew in the fertile soil of Rush Limbaugh's radio show and books.

Congratulations on 20 years of excellence in broadcasting, Rush. You changed things forever, and may you continue to do so for another 20 years.



No comments: