America lost one of its greatest citizens and defenders yesterday when Rush Limbaugh went
home to the Lord.
Rush Limbaugh was the public face and voice of conservatism for the better part of three decades and his contributions to the movement were many. In a very real sense, his on-air commentary was the tectonic plate that shifted opinion to help create and sustain the 1994 Contract with America wave election, the 2010 Tea Party wave election, and the 2016 Trump MAGA movement wave election.
But more important than his impact on electoral politics was Rush’s impact on how conservatives and conservatism marketed itself.
Rush moved conservativism out of the musty bookshelves of think tanks and the debates between differing schools of economists and philosophers into the “water cooler” conversations of millions of everyday Americans who suddenly discovered they were not alone in their love of country and distrust of Washington and Big Government.
In so doing Rush made conservatism fun and cool; his bumper music, especially the use of Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s “I ain’t got no home,” link to the 1991 Rush to Excellence tour, and Paul Shanklin’s musical parodies, changed the way conservatives communicated.
Suddenly conservative and Republican ideas weren’t like taking your castor oil – they were fun because Rush Limbaugh made them fun.
This formula of conservative political commentary, satire and debate with callers made Rush so popular that restaurants opened “Rush rooms” where you could order lunch and listen to the Rush Limbaugh Program over the restaurant’s sound system, truckers knew the radio stations that carried him and could cross the country without losing the signal of the EIB Network, and where you couldn’t listen to Rush, workers would repair to their cars to have a sandwich and listen to the program over their lunch break.
The callers were an important part of the Rush Limbaugh Program’s mystique because, unlike some other talk radio hosts, Rush maintained a cordial and respectful demeanor whether the caller was supportive or hostile, kookie or insightful – what Rush did was debate conservative ideas with the callers, he didn’t put them down or riff on them no matter how novel their ideas were.
And Rush Limbaugh’s call-in format democratized conservatism by moving conservatism out of the musty realm of think tanks, egghead journals and professorial seminars into the lives of everyday Americans; you didn’t have to wait for the next book from the small group of conservative “thinkers” that dominated establishment conservatism, you could turn on the radio and help define conservative thought by calling Rush.
We were honored when Rush quoted material from CHQ or cited Mr. Viguerie as an authority for a point he was making, such as Mr. Viguerie’s pioneering work on voter and donor targeting and our article on the Democrats’ $800,000 plan to disrupt the Republican National Convention.
As Mr. Viguerie wrote at the time of one of those instances where Rush was so generous:
Twice in the course of discussing the non-scandal of President Trump’s campaign using data mining to target voters, Rush Limbaugh has kindly given me credit for pioneering the use of data collection for voter and donor targeting.
On Monday, March 26, Rush said:
Well, exactly! Direct mail! Phone banks! None of this is new! That’s your point. None of this is new! Politicians, organizations, political entities have been amassing, organizing, collecting data on everybody for as long as they’ve been around, and there have been… Richard Viguerie is a big name in conservatism. One of the reasons is direct mail. Richard Viguerie found a way to find out more about people and how they’re gonna vote and how to persuade them in his era than anybody else had…
Whose head wouldn’t swell just a little if Rush called them “a big name in conservativism”?
Today, we reciprocate – Rush Limbaugh was not just “a big name in conservatism” – for 30 years he was THE big name in conservatism; driving the debate over what it means to be a conservative, selling conservative ideas and policy solutions and democratizing a movement that today is supported by 75 million+ Americans.
There’s never going to be another Rush Limbaugh and while we mourn his passing, we honor his memory by maintaining his signature optimism that America, as the Founders envisioned it, will prevail, in large measure because of the movement he contributed so much to building.
Rush Limbaugh death
Contract with America