I feel a bit strange. Many of my friends and people I follow online are rejoicing gleefully today over the news that Rush Limbaugh has died.
Rush and I go way back, all the way to 1989. My grandparents had given me a hand-me-down car (a 1977 Chevy Chevette) that only got AM radio. It didn’t even have a tape deck.
I got all of 2 radio stations in that car – an old time gospel one and the local news-talk station. So there I was, at the tender age of 19, when I first encountered Rush. It was April fools day, and the first thing I heard from this man was that he had woken up that morning and decided to become a liberal.
I didn’t even know what a liberal was. Boy was I about to find out.
Before long, Rush had converted me. I registered to vote as a Republican so that I could vote for Pat Buchanan in the 1992 primary and push George Bush, Sr. to the right. I threw myself into politics and wound up going to the Republican convention in Houston that year. I met Dan Quayle twice. More importantly, I met several members of my local United Pentecostal Church.
Have you wondered how all those people who rioted at the US Capitol last month got so deluded? How they could continue to believe in the face of all evidence to the contrary that Donald Trump actually won and had the election stolen from him?
Rush Limbaugh is how. Because he did the same thing to me, and if I hadn’t gotten away from his influence I very well might have been part of that crowd.
He was entertaining. He was funny. And, he reassured you, his was the voice you could trust. You knew he was right on a visceral level. In fact, you’d been thinking the things he was saying before he said them. He wasn’t convincing you of anything. He was validating you.
And day after day, 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, he had a direct line into your thoughts. He used that line to point out errors or hypocrisy on the part of the “mainstream media,” whom you could bet was trying to trick you.
Before you know it, Rush Limbaugh becomes the yardstick by which you measure opinions. From there it’s a very short step to measuring facts by him as well. After all, you’ve seen the media lie to you. You’re wise to their agenda. And you’re not falling for their version of “facts.”
For nearly 2 decades I listened faithfully to Rush. He felt like a member of my family. When he announced his hearing loss, I sat in my living room and cried for him.
Well I’m not crying today. Today I thank my gods for the ability to see through Rush’s manipulations. For reason, logic and compassion. Things Rush claimed to possess almost exclusively, while in reality what he preached was as shallow and devoid of virtue as the calories in a sugary soft drink.
Goodbye, Rush. And yes, #GoodRiddance.