Had I smelled teen spirit before I heard Rush Limbaugh, I may never have seen the conservative light.
Rock died for me after Ozzy left Black Sabbath in 1979 and wasn’t resurrected until late 1991, as Grunge, with the release of Nirvana’s Nevermind album, and its signature song, “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”
But I didn’t know the song’s name until a few years later because I first heard The Rush Limbaugh Program in early 1991.
I had tasted the death of my liberal utopian dreams in 1988 with the defeat (more the nomination) of Michael Dukakis while I served as a South Carolina county Democratic Party chair. I got an exponentially more bitter taste of reality with the miscarriage death of my child and subsequent divorce in 1990.
Then I heard Rush! (The talk show host, not the rock band.)
I had always listened to radio, AM and FM, much as I had always been a Democrat. I remember loving Barry Farber late at night in the mid to late 70s, not realizing he was conservative or even knowing what a conservative was. And liked Larry King late nights after that. The Fairness Doctrine ended the Farber education before I was able receive it, while CNN make Larry famous.
Yes, I loved Buckley’s Firing Line and Buchanan on Crossfire. But it was when I discovered Rush that I was on the path to the 2000 epiphany thanks to a weekly, 15 hour private education in the Limbaugh Institute of Advanced Conservative Studies.
At first, I was just thrilled to hear political debate. I disagreed with him on most things at first, but agreed on some significant ones, like feminism run amok, that never got aired on regular TV. I would see the “Rush is Right” bumper stickers and wince, but over time, I disagreed with him on less and less.
I spoke with Rush twice, on air, in the 90s trying to convince him that Bill Clinton was a moderate-conservative based on welfare reform and Nafta. Rush was nice to me, but he buried my arguments by pointing out the influence of Newt's takeover of Congress. Moreover, I'll never forget the day that began my loss of respect for Clinton's character. That was the day that he insinuated that Rush was partially responsible for inspiring Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing.
I also met Bo Snerdly, (Rush’s career long “program observer” who is “certified black enough to criticize” and Official Barack Obama Criticizer) at an event at the local AM station, but one main significant thing I came to respect about Rush, and the then local Rush clone, Mike Gallagher, before meeting Snerdly was that they were not racist and treated Blacks as equals. It made me start to see how my party was the one that based things on race. I always thought racism allegations against Rush and many republicans by Dems was unfair.
But I think the key contribution Rush made to my conversion was the contrast between his presentations of the news of the day with that of the major TV and radio networks. I would watch events on C-Span and then notice that the “Drive-by media” would leave out or mischaracterize portions of the event that I deemed significant, and I was a liberal (at least on many issues) Democrat then. Then I would notice that Rush left out nothing significant, to either the left or the right, and that he would play verbatim sound bites in context.
He was not only not afraid of the arguments of the left; he relished having the left reveal itself and then tear their arguments apart in the “arena of ideas.”
Life went on from trial law to corporate law, SC to GA, GA to NC. Family members moved away and passed away. Rush Limbaugh remained a constant source of fun and wisdom.
Rush, like me, is a work in progress, but I was very impressed with the way Rush dealt with the loss of his hearing and subsequent addiction to pain killers. He kept his good humor and never whined about the drug problem and he faced the hearing loss with courage.
As a liberal Democrat, I see now that I was the elitist Rush identified and that much of my politics was to make me feel good.
But I always shared Rush’s optimism about America and love of America.
I came to see over time that Rush’s hero was my hero. Reagan fixed the economy with supply side conservative principles, defeated the USSR with peace through strength and advanced the Judeo-Christian values I believed in.
I came to see that we can not make Heaven on Earth like liberals imagine and that after 5000 years America stands tall as a Shining City on a Hill compared to all the others.
Rush attacks no one. He just sits around minding his own business when liberals attack the principles and institutions that made this country great.
When I moved to Atlanta in 2001 and discovered the internet, I immediately joined Rush 24/7, and over the past 17 of his nearly 20 years on national radio, I have missed few days without the words of Rush in my ears.
The most frequent thought I have upon hearing his words are:
Rush is Right!
Mike DeVine’s Charlotte Observer columnsLegal Editor for The Minority and HinzSight Reports"The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." - The Chief JusticeRace 4 2008"One man with courage makes a majority." - Andrew Jackson