January 13, 2008

Rush Limbaugh

Is Rush Limbaugh a conservative, as he so often claims? He also claims to be right 99.9% percent of the time. Well, does that settle the matter? If we use his own statistic, there remains a possibility, albeit a very small one, that he could be wrong. In addition, I read somewhere that 56.7% of all statistics are bogus.

I can remember my days of listening to Rush Limbaugh, almost religiously so, as he nearly demolished the liberal Democratic Party single-handedly. I had hoped that he would be able to go all the way. The downside for Rush and his devotees is that if he had succeeded, he would have put himself out of a job. He would be like a cancer researcher who discovers the ultimate cure for cancer, or a government program for the poor that ends up eliminating poverty.

It seemed that everyone considered Rush, that very entertaining gladiator fighting in his virtual political arena, a conservative. However, as I continued to study political philosophy and American history, especially the Founding Era, my views began change about Rush, and contemporary American politics in general. Rush appeared to me less and less a true conservative. What? To say that Rush is not a conservative is heresy! Bring on the Republican Inquisitors! I doubt the legitimacy of Rush Limbaugh’s conservative credentials. I am denying the faith. I will gladly sign a confession.

Now it is time for the kicker: Rush, in so many words, has admitted to not being a conservative.

Several years ago, during one of his radio broadcasts, Rush said he was “not in favor of returning to Constitutional government.” He said such an idea is unrealistic. “It’s never going to happen.” My suspicions about Rush’s political position had been confirmed by the man himself.

If someone claims to be a political conservative, but does not support Constitutional government, what is it then that qualifies him to be a conservative? What is it that he is trying to conserve? He is not trying to conserve the highest civil law in the land, the U.S. Constitution. He is not trying to conserve what is best in America’s political tradition, the ideas and ideals of the Constitution.

Concerning economics, Rush is not trying to conserve sound economic policy, or the environment. Witness Rush promoting his consumption-oriented idea of an ever-expanding pie. This is poor economic theory and, in practice, it unnecessarily exploits the environment. Environmental exploitation is ultimately bad for the economy.

Neither is Rush promoting a sound foreign policy such as America had in its earlier days. Instead, Rush promotes an un-Constitutional interventionist foreign policy. This too is fiscally irresponsible.

Unfortunately, in light of the current political and cultural climate, excepting for an economic catastrophe, a return to Constitutional government is a long way down the road. This is especially so when there is hardly a politician these days who takes seriously his oath to uphold the Constitution. In Congress, we have but one exception, Ron Paul.

Is Rush Limbaugh, then a liberal? The term “liberal” is ambiguous at best. We need to look at political language. Many people often use many political terms without investing much thought in their meanings. We often label either a person’s view as “liberal” or “conservative”. We think we know what we mean when we use these terms. However, if we wrote down what we think we mean, we could see the vagueness of our own ideas. Neither do we realize that the ideas of the person we are talking with are equally vague. Awareness of this problem in communication ought to motivate us to clarify, first of all to ourselves, what it is we are trying to say.

Is "liberal" anything more than a euphemism for socialist? Certainly, modern liberalism has little in common with classical liberalism and much, if not everything, in common with socialism.

What is a conservative these days? Is it just someone who stays to the right of center? What does this mean if the center shifts with every new political trend?

“Liberal” and “conservative” have become basic animal terms. They are not precise or meaningful terms any longer. Hence, I have hardly used either term in many years, except to throw an interlocutor into a tailspin by asking what he means by the term he just used.

In the sense that I have tersely described conservatism, I have no qualms with saying that Rush Limbaugh is not a conservative at heart. To a certain degree Rush has statist and interventionist leanings in common with the political left. I think Rush, at heart, is a liberal. Yet, he is a liberal who obviously despises liberalism. And perhaps his liberal disposition is what made him incapable of dealing the final death blow to the liberal Democratic Party.

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Elsewhere, it seems the Bush Coins, designed for the newly proposed petroleum based currency, include a coin dedicated to Rush Limbaugh. See the recently released video, New Bush Coins

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