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Rush Limbaugh, The Revolutionary Media Figure America Badly Needed
“It is the Press which has corrupted our political morals—and it is to the Press we must look for the means of our political regeneration.” -Alexander Hamilton
“Let me tell you who we conservatives are: we love people. When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans. We see human beings. We don’t see groups. We don’t see victims.” —Rush Limbaugh
In an age where the Press/Media are corrupting political morals more and more, one man disrupted the evil infrastructure, became a beacon of truth, and changed history. Rush Limbaugh was a revolutionary in the best sense, the quintessential American individualist. He didn’t graduate from college, he was apparently a failure as a very young man, according to arbitrary elitist standards. He sounded like an ordinary man speaking common sense to ordinary people; but then, he made his own rules. And in an age where journalistic honesty is a joke and original thinking is condemned, Rush Limbaugh created a new kind of media. Suddenly, patriots and conservatives across the country who felt isolated, excluded, or hopeless had someone who spoke to and for them. Rush Limbaugh was not a great media personality and truth-teller because he was trained—he was great precisely because he was not trained (or rather, he was trained by doing, he was trained on the job). He was a sort of genius at talk radio, he was natural, he was charismatic. Even sincere journalists now are trained to speak and move and respond and act and write a very specific and (frankly) artificial way. Rules aren’t always bad, but Rush didn’t follow the rules because he didn’t need them—for him, the “rules of journalism” would have been a restriction, not a guide. He was unique. Two years ago, when Rush died, Americans lost not just a champion, but a friend.
My siblings and I grew up listening to Rush’s radio show with our parents and, later, reading the Limbaugh Letter every month. We memorized his parodies to the point that lines from them became inside family jokes. Growing up and knowing I wanted to be a journalist, Rush Limbaugh inspired me. As a journalist hoping to help renew political morals, I could not but recognize that Rush Limbaugh did it first and best. Media personalities and journalists now are overwhelmingly college educated and meticulously trained a certain way. Rush wasn’t, and that is why we loved him. He had none of the artificialities or elitism of other media figures. When he spoke, it was like having a conversation with a friend. If only conservative media had learned the lesson Rush taught about being real better than it has! If only, like Rush, the media (even conservatives) would stop taking itself so very seriously, and realize that humor is a necessary leaven! If only journalists could learn they must be of the people, and not just for the people!
“Bigot: A person who wins an argument with a liberal.” —Rush Limbaugh
There are so many great Americans who had little formal education and were self-made, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Booker T. Washington. No one trained Thomas Paine or Alexander Hamilton how to be a journalist—they just wrote, and learned by doing it. THIS is, I believe, the fundamental reform that has to happen in media today. It’s not that I believe education is bad or wrong; I have a college degree myself. It’s not that I think it’s not helpful for an editor to share some basic writing guidelines with writers, either. But I do believe that journalists should not be hired or measured based on the degrees they have, or the schools they attended, or the arbitrary guidelines they have memorized. I don’t think journalists should be expected to speak a certain way on TV or radio, or trained to write using an incredibly specific formula. Perhaps one of the reasons there are so few good journalists now is that the profession has intentionally designed itself to exclude originality. Rush Limbaugh just spoke facts in an engaging manner. Elitists despised him, because he didn’t fit their mold—and yet he was excellent at his job, while they remained wallowing in propagandistic, formulaic mediocrity.
Rush was also the eternal optimist. No matter how bad things got, he always believed America could turn it all around. We could certainly use that attitude now—because, as GK Chesterton once observed, only optimists change the world. It takes one kind of vision to identify a problem and another kind to believe not only that it must be fixed but that it can be fixed in spite of all odds; and Rush had both. As he observed, “If you had to attach not a philosophy but an attitude to a leftist worldview, it’s one of pessimism and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy, are they?”
If there is one thing that we should learn as we remember the great Rush Limbaugh today, it’s that we will never change the world for the better unless we are unafraid to cross boundaries and say the glaringly obvious things that everyone is afraid to say. Fear rules even true patriots in the US now, and no great man allows his fear to dictate to him. Rush certainly was not afraid of the monolithic establishment media and government arrayed against him. America is a country of revolutionaries in every field and era, and Rush was one of the greats. I can almost hear Rush Limbaugh speaking beyond the grave: Speak the truth, challenge the liars, and BE NOT AFRAID.