It’s 1986 and I am in the garage of the first home I owned in Red Bluff, California working on a project. My first wife is inside baking away and we are living what for many was the American dream. At 28, life does not get much better.
In the background, I am picking up a radio station out of Sacramento, two hours away, and listening to a talk radio host making fun of just about everyone imaginable. Democrats and Republicans are skewered with humor as are the leaders of communist Russia, local politicians, and the media. It’s smart, irreverent, leans to the right but not so much that it offends the left, and it is all hosted by a guy named Rush Limbaugh. What the hell happened?
In a few short years, I will have moved back to southern California because life throws the unexpected at all of us. We still had the dream, just in a slightly different form in 1990. Working on projects in my new backyard, I found a talk radio station out of Los Angeles and what do you know? Rush Limbaugh is now national. He has hit the big time, but he is also no longer the Rush I was used to hearing.
There are no more barbs tossed at the right. He has become fixated on a guy by the name of Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary. He mocks anything and anyone connected with women’s rights and pushes ideas like AIDS as being a punishment sent by God for people who choose to live a degenerate life.
Rush is the toast of anyone from the right and is basking in all the fame that comes with being the voice and face of a national movement. The left can have the movies, but the right will fight for their right to hate via the airwaves and Rush is the gold standard of talk radio. Congressmen and Senators call in and before saying goodbye to Rush, they make sure to leave their lip marks all over his backside. Rush eats it all up.
Today, the man who was described by many on the left as a cancer to society has advanced lung cancer. While the right applauds our president for awarding him a Presidential Medal of Freedom, the left quietly stews over his award and sees his illness as Karma. He will gladly be used by the president to point out all that is great about the Right, knowing full well it does not look good for a political candidate to celebrate Rush’s soon to be demise.
No one, in my opinion, comes close to Rush Limbaugh when it comes to doing what he does, which is pontificating over the same political nonsense that the rest of the right can’t get right. He has a perfect radio voice and is skilled at repeating party talking points at a level only the best politician could hope for. However, he also is typical of anyone who hits stardom and becomes so intoxicated on himself, he ended up becoming as hated as he was loved. Like the rest of our political landscape, he split us into two camps; those who can’t get enough of him and those who can’t stand him.
Today, there is no room for the middle ground. Any and all things political are an either or matter. Common sense is not as important as party dogma. The same folks who supported the impeachment of Bill Clinton are the ones who opposed it on behalf of Donald Trump. Nothing has to make sense as much as it just has to jibe with the party line. Pointing out the contradictions spewed by the Rush Limbaughs of the world only gets you labeled an ugly term. Using facts to shoot down their lies results in new phrases like “Fake News.” Arguing, debating, and equal time have been replaced by a one sided brainwashing that has turned many into blind loyalists who are unable to think for themselves. Why think when you have a guy like Rush to continuously lay out arguments that leave out facts, preys on our fears and emotions, and are stated in ways too many lack the ability to do that sound logical.
Rush Limbaugh has cancer. He is not and never was a cancer as many have described. The cancer that splits this nation is our ignorance. It is our unwillingness to sit down and have a civil conversation with someone of a different mindset without it turning into an episode of Jerry Springer. It is reflected in our preference to hide behind faceless modes of attacking our enemies known as social media. It is our unwillingness to examine all sides of an issue because that takes more time and energy than to just outsource our thinking to the likes of a guy who simply capitalized off our laziness.
This cancer is not just found in the right. The left has its share of cancers. We have reached a point where people simply do not care who they offend, how they offend, or what their offending results in because they will simply point fingers, deny, or claim the other is deserving of their wrath. We rush to judgement because men and women from the left and right are like two burly Russians sitting face to face taking turns slapping each other until one falls down and remains on the floor.
Celebrate or mourn Rush Limbaugh’s fate all you want. There are plenty of folks out there chomping at the bit to pick up where Rush will leave off, not because they believe in what they are doing, but like Rush Limbaugh 30 years ago, they see an opportunity to cash in off our disinterest in a desire for common ground.
Top photo is a YouTube screenshot of Rush Limbaugh after receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom
With Limbaugh is his wife Katheryn Adams Limbaugh and First Lady Melania Trump
Jim is a life long resident of California and retired school teacher with 30 years in public education. Jim earned his BA in History from CSU Chico in 1981 and his MA in Education from Azusa Pacific University in 1994. He is also the author of Teaching The Teacher: Lessons Learned From Teaching. Jim considers himself an equal opportunity pain in the ass to any political party, group, or individual who looks to profit off of hypocrisy. When he is not pointing out the conflicting words and actions of our leaders, the NFL commissioner, or humans in general, he can be found riding his bike for hours on end while pondering his next article. Jim recently moved to Camarillo, CA after being convinced to join the witness protection program.