A few years back, I used to listen to Rush Limbaugh’s radio show for a good 30 minutes or so most days while I was on my lunch break from work. Though I was never a devoted fan, I often found myself agreeing with what he had to say. And even when we disagreed, I still typically felt he was making a decent point.
It’s not at all hard to understand why conservatives have flocked to Rush over the years. He’s a pioneer of the modern conservative movement — a highly entertaining, eloquent and unapologetic voice for conservative principles and policies. He’s thrived in a media culture dominated by liberal sensibilities and group-think, and he’s done so by refusing to stay silent and fade into the night when it comes to defending conservatism against those seeking to pervert and dismantle it.
This week, however, Rush seemed to have a starkly different message for both Republican politicians and the conservative faithful (around 70% of them anyway): Just be quiet.
Below is a partial transcript from Tuesday’s airing of The Rush Limbaugh Show.
“You Republicans, you can denounce Trump all day, all week, all month, and the Democrat Party and the media are still gonna say you laid the table for it. You can condemn Trump all you want, but it is not going to buy you any love or respect or admiration from the Drive-By Media and the Democrats. Now, folks, the conventional wisdom is that Trump is scum, that Trump is a reprobate, that Trump is dangerous, that Trump is obscene, Trump’s insane, Trump’s a lunatic, Trump’s dangerous, Trump’s got to go. Why join in with that phrase? Why join that crowd? We never fall in with conventional wisdom here.”
In other words, if you’re a Republican who speaks out against Donald Trump (arguably the least conservative candidate running for the GOP presidential nomination), you’re only doing so because:
- It’s the politically correct, conventional thing to do.
- You need to feel accepted by the mainstream media and the Democratic Party.
So let me get this straight: Those of us on the right, who speak out against a man who mocks American POWs for their capture, only do so because we want people like George Stephanopoulos to respect us? We only condemn a presidential candidate’s menstrual-cycle musings because we’re worried about falling out of the feminist movement’s good graces? When someone mocks a disabled reporter’s disabilities, we don’t object to it out of common decency, but rather because we’re worried about upsetting those in the journalistic profession of which he belongs?
Comparing fellow candidates to child molesters? Portraying World War 2 internment camps as a historically good idea? Proposing American Muslims be forced to register in a national database, and then banning all other Muslims from entering the United States? If you criticize the man who’s putting forth such things, you’re just a lapdog for the mainstream media?
Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I’ve always believed that speaking truth to power is an admirable trait…whether it’s done by a politician or regular citizen. I’ve always believed that rejecting political correctness doesn’t mean rejecting your personal ethics.
I’d call Limbaugh’s comments shocking and insulting, but the truth is that nothing surprises me any more when it comes to the bizarre relationship that has formed between the Trump campaign and notable conservative pundits. Big names like Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and Laura Ingraham have gone from long demanding conservative purity within the Republican Party, to routinely defending the classless, big-government candidate who’s as foreign to conservatism as he is humbleness.
I don’t know if this is all the product of cronyism, being that Trump has had longtime relationships with a lot of these pundits. I don’t know if it has to do with ratings. I don’t know if they’re simply enamored by Trump’s celebrity and stage presence — the lightning in a bottle effect, perhaps. What I do know is that these people, when it comes to Trump, have deemed conservatism and integrity to be less important than the massaging of a billionaire’s ego.
The reality is that conservatives like me don’t oppose Trump’s candidacy because we’re hoping to earn the respect of the mainstream media, the Democratic Party, or our liberal neighbors. That notion is so ridiculous, it hurts. We oppose Trump’s candidacy because Trump is making the job of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party painfully easy in this election cycle.
Trump has become the personification of the cartoon straw man that conservatives have long fought against, which is particularly remarkable considering he’s not even a conservative. His reckless rhetoric, awkward gaffes, and outright fabrications have been a Democratic strategist’s wet dream. The hours of Democratic-ad footage he has provided over the last several months alone would prove lethal to the Republican Party in a general election.
But we’re not supposed to point that out. Limbaugh doesn’t want us to. Hannity doesn’t want us to. Eric Bolling (possibly Trump’s most devout disciple) definitely doesn’t want us to. The majority of the GOP that doesn’t support Trump is supposed to sit back and be quiet, out of fear that our discontent might sound too much like the rhetoric coming out of the Democrats.
I’m sorry, but my country and my family are too important for me to stay silent. I’m sure the old Rush Limbaugh would have agreed.