Rush Limbaugh was one of the most consequential Americans of his generation, and the most successful radio broadcaster of all time.
More ears, more years, more dollars, more truth.
The talent on loan from God was put to good use and, today, was returned to the source from whence it came. He lived his biblical allotment of three score years and ten, and today he was released from his labors.
Rush H. Limbaugh III didn’t practice law, like his namesakes, but he proclaimed the law, and the rule of law, and the Constitution, and the principles that made America great. He was a cultural voice that reminded America where it came from and where it was supposed to be going, and how it was supposed to get there.
Sometimes Liberty holds a torch by a harbor, and sometimes she sits behind a golden microphone.
At least she did while Rush was on the air.
He was what they had in mind when they wrote the First Amendment, and made speech and press essential freedoms. He was a constant battler against efforts to chain the American mind and muffle the American mouth. He was, in an era of ever more stridently enforced conformity, the last voice of opposition and independence.
And he used his talents and the freedom of the marketplace to build and protect the last significant conservative American platform – for himself and others. The newspapers have all gone one way, the television has all gone one way, the corporations and government have all gone that same way, and voices of dissent are marginalized and destroyed in an intensely intolerant progressive culture.
And yet there was Rush, on some 600 radio stations, ringing the bell and preaching the gospel. And the prosperity that his massive audience generated paid for those radio stations and preserved that platform and gave voice to other shows and any number of callers, voices raised genuinely from We The People, the overlooked Americans who have always been the mainstream and the backbone.
Voices that, without Rush, would have long since been silenced.
He led that, but not in the way most think. He didn’t chart the course, he followed the path, the North Star of truth, and his common sense and honest heart allowed him to be an amplification of the feelings of untold millions of Americans who likewise had common sense and an honest heart. Rush Limbaugh didn’t lead the conservative movement, he reflected it. He said what people thought, not because he told them what to think, but because he thought the same way they did.
And that took him from Cape Girardeau to the pick-up trucks of America, the Rush Rooms of a thousand diners, the homes and offices of millions of patriots, and to the house of our presidents and the halls of our Congress. What wasn’t quite good enough for Southeast Missouri State was more than adequate for the rest of the country.
He learned the truth as a boy at home, the truth that sets you free, and he created the vehicle to proclaim that truth and offer that freedom, as much a prophet as a performer, a disc jockey who saw something in the “On Air” light that no one else ever had.
And for three decades, America was better for it.
As we walked through the darkness of an uncertain future, Rush walked ahead with a flashlight, showing the way. Sometimes we followed it, and sometimes we didn’t. But we listened enough, and events were sufficiently impacted, that the arc of the moral universe bent toward justice and truth and freedom. Elections were won and principles were advocated and policies were impacted, and America was better for it.
By a painfully shy college dropout with three marriages and a substance problem. A regular guy with his feet of clay, kind of like the rest of us, holding onto the handrail of truth and trying to make his way the best he could.
A guy who could laugh and bark and inspire, and who breathed confidence and encouragement into millions of people at the best and worst of times. A guy who, once his duty was taken up, never laid it down, and who, long after his fortune was made, showed up for work every day. A guy who, literally, worked until his dying days, pouring out his heart and filling up ours.
Certainly, he had his critics, people whose hatred ran through them like adrenalin. But such bitterness is part and parcel of American politics today, and you can’t be right without angering those who are wrong. Unity does not mean silence and disagreement is not divisiveness, and those who were the most bothered by Rush were typically those who were least capable of refuting the truths he proclaimed. It makes you mad to be called out, and Rush called a lot of people out.
But he did his duty, and he served his country, and he went home today.
And the “On Air” sign has gone dark.