Rush Limbaugh and George Bailey

Rush has passed on from this life.  We must begin with that.  It was, in fact, one year ago today (February 17, 2021). And in one short year, so much about America has changed.

There is nobody who cares more about you than you, and there’s nobody better equipped to take care of you than you. -- Rush Limbaugh

Rush’s absence is, of course, not the only factor in the devolution of the Land of the Free.  A virus, a shutdown, an election, and several dictatorial policies have certainly contributed to the downgrade.

And yet, on this, the one-year anniversary of the passing of America’s Anchorman, I can’t help but wonder how things might have been different had the wisdom and pushback of the late, great Maha Rushie not ceased to reverberate from the golden EIB microphone.

Truth be told, it was the stage-four cancer diagnosis in February 2020 that anticipated the beginning of the end of Rush’s reign as the Doctor of Democracy.  His battle against the disease coincided with the arrival of the China virus to the shores of America.  And though he (rightly) diminished the severity of the virus and harshly criticized the policies of government and health authorities, the fragility of his own health during treatment required him to temper his conclusions, step away from the fray, and no longer advance the battle lines.

This isn’t who we are, folks, this cowering and fearful and almost giving up in the face of this enemy, COVID-19. We’ve not ever done anything like this before.  So much of the way we are dealing with this is unprecedented -- and it’s un-American.  It’s nothing compared to the way we have overcome enemies and obstacles in our past. -- Rush Limbaugh

And nature abhors a vacuum.

Yes, there is significant censorship by Big Tech.  This is, in fact, one reason why the “Rush Limbaugh Show” was so effective: it simply could not be silenced!  And yes, there are others now who -- with wisdom and courage and grit -- stand up against those who would wish to harm the America of our founding.  I applaud them!  Indeed, I follow many like-minded news sources and even regular citizens -- and encourage you to do likewise.  

But few push back with the fortitude and foresight of Rush Limbaugh.

Let me tell you who we conservatives are: we love people.  When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere, when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere, we see Americans.  We see human beings.  We don’t see groups.  We don’t see victims.  -- Rush Limbaugh

Many of us remember what would have been the ravaged town of Pottersville had George Bailey never existed.  Frank Capra’s classic It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) recounts the story of George and the guardian angel sent to earth to rescue his suicidal charge.  In a scene reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Clarence grants George the eyes to see his town of Bedford Falls as it would have been had George’s wish to never be born come to pass.  The depressed protagonist learns that, without his intervention, his former employer, Mr. Gower, would have landed in jail.  Without his work and benevolence, the modest residences funded by his building and loan would have never been built.  And without his quick wit and sacrifice, his younger brother Harry, whose prowess during the war saved many, would have met an early demise… Ultimately, Bedford Falls, without George, would have been taken over by the miserly Mr. Potter, and Pottersville was nothing if not dirty, dangerous, and degenerate.

A little like Portland in 2022.

While Rush certainly earned a peaceful rest, I urge those of us still alive and kicking not to rest on the sidelines of this battle for freedom.  As we remember the winner of the Presidential Medal of Freedom on this, the anniversary of his passing, let us not forget the difference that one life can make in a community, in a state, even in a country like ours.  The fictional George Bailey, yes, but also George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., Ronald Reagan and Rush Hudson Limbaugh, III.

Over our efforts, I pray the final prayer of Tiny Tim from Dickens’ classic: “God bless us, Everyone!”

Correction: Title of Dickens's tale corrected

Bendi Benson Schrambach, Ph.D. is a professor at Whitworth University and the author of Eyes to See: Experiencing God’s Wonders in All of Life’s Seasons

Image: Gage Skidmore

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