What Rush Limbaugh did for me in the summer of 1980

Rush Limbaugh was unapologetically human.  He spoke not just from the heart, but from his bones.  His is a voice that will never be repeated.  But the many voices that he inspired in conservative thinking, commentary, and talk radio will be his legacy that can start to fill the deep hole he leaves behind.  It does not seem a coincidence that he passes on Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Lenten period of reflection and prayer.  He just may have been called to do his work on a superior platform.

Like so many millions, he helped me understand what conservatism really means — that it is about people and the natural inseparable rights that define human existence and propel us to our full potential.  He spoke joyfully and passionately on these ideas...five days a week!

He also helped me to trust my own instincts.  At the end of the 1980s, I spent a rare summer at home before starting law school.  I had just graduated from one of those ultra-liberal elite eastern colleges, which included a year abroad in West Africa, an attempt to build on my bleeding-heart liberal Peace Corps–wannabe desires.  Yet I found myself clinging to conservative concepts instead.  I just wasn't convinced that liberal demands for certain kinds of rights (right to abortion, right to share in other people's wealth, right not to be offended by other ideas) were more important than each individual's rights to freedom, pursuit of education and ideas, or even life itself.  Ronald Reagan was president when I was in Africa, and I began to see in him the hope and freedom he represented to the oppressed people who wanted to live as Americans do, no matter how hard.  But I did not realize what all of this meant.

Then my dad introduced me to Rush Limbaugh.  That summer, I would drive to and from my summer job with my dad and see him for lunch.  He insisted we listen to this "new guy" every time he was on the radio.  For someone who still thought Republicans were oppressive and selfish, I protested the channel selection.  But something happened.  I began to listen.  I began to ask questions.  My dad and I would debate.  I would argue generational differences; he would argue natural law principles — all inspired by Rush's insights.

I began to appreciate Rush's sense of humor.  He made conservatism fun.  To this day "In A Yugo" is one of my favorite parodies.  Sung to Elvis Presley's "In The Ghetto," its tale, about a liberal couple who feel virtuous driving a crappy car because it is "more environmental," is as pertinent today as 30 years ago.  His ability to predict and understand how others think and act was uncanny.  And he never spoke down to people or ridiculed the helpless.  He was the perfect afterword to President Reagan.

Today, I am a sad "Dittohead" and will be praying for the Great Maha Rushie.  His memory lives on, especially in the generation of Rush babies he inspired.  The best homage we can make is to continue to be joyful, passionate conservative warriors. 

Image via Pxhere.