Thursday, March 5, 2009

Rush Limbaugh and the contradictions of conservatism

Rush Limbaugh is driving the Republican Party nuts. Ha! Of course, most Republicans who actually hold elected office won't admit it. But sober realists, of which there still are some in the GOP, must be just tearing their hair out.

What they don't realize is that Rush Limbaugh is the ultimate embodiment of conservative ideology. He is acting according to what is in his own short-term best interests. That is a basic organizing principle of capitalism and conservatism: the individual must have the maximum possible freedom to act according to their own best interests.

The problem for the GOP is that what is in Limbaugh's best interest in the short term is NOT necessarily in the best interest of the Republican Party in the long term. Limbaugh's perspective is the next few days. He wants material for his daily talk show. He could care less about what happens six months from now, a year from now, 5 years from now. He wants to make money right now. So he denounces Obama, or "feminazis," or any famous Congressional Democrat, in strong terms, because the louder and more obnoxious he is, the greater the entertainment value for his listeners.

Rush Limbaugh has absolutely no interest whatsoever in any kind of reasoned discourse about policy. That's because he has no interest whatsoever in policy. Politics is just fodder for his ranting, that's all. He doesn't care about finding the best solutions to various problems. He would actually prefer that we NOT find solutions, because he thrives on chaos and confusion. The more nervous and scared people are, the better he does. If life were perfectly calm, he would have no business.

There are many members of the traditional GOP coalition who desperately want to work with Obama. There is hardly a business in this country that doesn't have problems with healthcare costs. Many, many members of the military, and their families, desperately want the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to end quickly. Large numbers of businesses want to see increased spending on infrastructure and education, and are willing to pay higher taxes to get that.

These people are not necessarily Limbaugh's audience. He doesn't care about the reasonable, moderate Republicans, the ones who are willing to vote for Obama because he's a decent, responsible human being. All he cares about is feeding his dittoheads' addiction to anger. He's like a drug dealer who gets people addicted to a drug, and then keeps feeding it to them.

His audience's addiction to anger distorts their perspective. Anything that threatens their addiction - like, saying the chairman of the RNC challenging Rush's influence - is met with the trigger-happy reaction of people denied a fix.

Thus we have yet another example of the ironies afflicting conservatism: a man who embodies the ideals of capitalism - that individuals should be allowed the maximum possible freedom to act according to their own best interests - is wreaking havoc on the GOP precisely because what is in his best interests is contrary to the best interests of the party as a whole. Bwahahahaha!

There is, fortunately for the rest of us, a more powerful force at work in this country's politics than Rush Limbaugh, an organizing principle which encourages people to recognize that sometimes it is their best interests to understand what is in the best interests of other people. This organizing principle is called "democracy." It is vastly more powerful than Rush Limbaugh.

1 comment:

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Forget, please, "conservatism." It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

"[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

John Lofton, Editor,
Recovering Republican

PS - And Limbaugh has never made a bigger ass of himself than when at CPAC he told that blasphemous "joke" re:himself and God.