LOS ANGELES, February 17, 2020 — Politics is not life and death. Life and death is life and death. And so it was that on this day, as he left this life, God invited the late Rush Limbaugh, talk radio’s greatest host, to join Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley Jr.
Fans and detractors alike knew Limbaugh primarily for his politics. But all of us can still learn so many more life lessons from this great conservative champion and teacher.
When a very political person dies, one should either say something nice or say nothing at all. On the day they die, at least, leave them alone. Give the family 24 hours to grieve. Give them an entire week if possible. 24 hours is the bare minimum. Unfortunately, Rush Limbaugh’s rabid, left-wing enemies are failing the test of their humanity by violating this courtesy en masse.
Rush saves AM Radio and helped inspire the birth of Fox News
While his conservative audience loved him, Limbaugh actually benefitted people all across the political spectrum. AM Radio was dying in the 1980s. Music had relocated to the FM band, while AM was on the verge of extinction. Rush saved AM radio. His wildly successful political talk-radio program spawned a ton of imitators.
Several years after his radio show debuted, Fox News was born. While many people think this made our society worse, that is not fair. Half the country had no voice until Rush showed up.
Rush gave a voice to the voiceless conservatives across the fruited plain
Rush did not tell his fans what to think. We already knew what we believed. But Rush did something special. He gave a voice to many voiceless people who grew sick and tired of a national discourse that allowed only one point of view to be expressed. Their objection to this regime was not “hate speech.” It was speech that the powers that be happened to disagree with. And subsequently chose to demonize. 24/7.
Yet a funny thing happened along the way. After years and years of castigating Limbaugh and Fox News, the other side realized that more speech is actually better. Along came a bunch of liberal radio talk show hosts and MSNBC. Talk to any wildly successful liberal radio host, and they will publicly credit Limbaugh as the man who got them started. (If there are any wildly successful liberal radio hosts.)
While many people agreed with Limbaugh’s politics, that was not why he succeeded. So many talk radio hosts today are obsessively filled with anger, rage and vitriol. That was never the approach pioneered by the late Rush Limbaugh. Rush used to constantly exhort his audience to “Be of good cheer.”
He wanted people to become “happy warriors.”
He never wanted to ban or cancel people who disagreed with them. Instead, he welcomed them to the discussion and wanted people to advocate for their beliefs.
America has lost its sunniest optimist
This sunny optimism advocated by Rush Limbaugh is what we find missing from much of today’s political discourse. Anyone who turned on the Limbaugh show knew he was never angry. Rush was funny. He was animated. He was self-deprecating.
He’d say things like “Losing weight is easy. I’ve lost weight hundreds of times.”
Today, I watch so many people win a big political battle. Yet, instead of joy, they still remain angry. Perhaps even angrier than before. Limbaugh, like all of us, could lose a political battle and still find reasons to be optimistic.
Stage 4 lung cancer gave him an irrevocable death sentence. Yet he spent his final months telling his audience how grateful he was to be alive.
What can we learn from the life of Rush Limbaugh?
If there is anything we can learn from Rush Limbaugh, it is that politics is pointless if we become and remain miserable. We don’t need to win every political battle to achieve happiness. Instead, we should learn to smile more, laugh more and not take ourselves so seriously. And we can be passionate about our ideas without viewing all who disagree with us as enemies.
When we die, nobody will remember most of what we did. Our time here is so limited. We should be thankful and joyful that we have this thing called life. We should be thankful as well that people of all stripes have a right to speak in the town square.
Limbaugh called this “the arena of ideas.” May it exist freely long after he is gone.
Rush often claimed he had “Talent on loan from God.” This meant that he knew his God-given gift was temporary. It was not bravado or braggadocio. Quite the opposite. It was humility. Now, God has called the loan in.
May we all find peace, happiness, and joy before our loan from God is called in.
And now, to El Rushbo, The Great Maha-Rushie: May you enjoy your time with God, Reagan and Buckley. You earned it.
*— Headline image: The late Rush Limbaugh. Promo photo from the Rush Limbaugh Show. Fair use in CDN article on Rush.*