OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Guest Author, S. Christopher Michaels, wrote the article below. Look for more of his material here at WayneDupree.com.
As you’ve probably heard, read, or saw, Rush Limbaugh passed away today at the age of 70 from lung cancer. He left his mark on many Americans, including me. Instead of chronicling his numerous successes, I’d like to tell you the impact he had on my life.
I first listened to Rush when I was a freshman in high school. It was back in 1991, and conservative talk radio was still in its infancy. For those of you too young to remember, this predated Fox News by five years. I purchased his book, “The Way Things Ought to Be,” proudly showing it off to the dismay of my teachers.
Mr. Limbaugh was likely the spark that ignited my passion for politics. I haven’t agreed with everything Rush has said over the years. I can’t entirely agree with everything anyone says—except for my wife, of course. Yet, I will always be grateful for what Rush Limbaugh did for our country.
The 1980s offered an incredible resurgence in conservative values. As a conservative Libertarian, this was the decade that provided me with my formative years. For reasons I won’t go into here, our nation began its tilted polarization after Reagan left office. It became chic to deride or mock traditional America.
The man from Cape Girardeau pushed back. That’s just another small town in southeast Missouri. Folks from big cities probably can’t find it on a map. Still, Rush embodied the Heartland values that many of us from flyover country continue to share. And his courage to speak so freely about his love for America is what drew us to him.
You see, Rush could have cashed in and gone the route of many other national personalities. He could have tamped down his fiery rhetoric. No doubt, he would have won more awards, gained more viewers, and rubbed elbows with more celebrities if he had abandoned the values he held so dear. But he didn’t.
Of all the things Rush did for America, this is the piece I will always carry with me. He stayed true to his beliefs. He weathered personal storms with dignity and carried himself with grace until the end. While he may not have ridden a horse in western movies, he was the John Wayne of my generation.
I don’t offer this praise faintly. John Wayne holds a special place in my heart as the personification of masculinity. Comparing anyone to him is a sign that I hold someone in high regard. Rush Limbaugh was willing to face a generation of scrutiny, scorn, and unscrupulous attacks before it was ‘cool’ to do so.
I will forever believe that we couldn’t have had a President Trump without first having a Rush Limbaugh. We were able to galvanize around a centralized message of conservative and traditional values, debating their finer points as we took pride in what the more well-to-do satirize. I know I wouldn’t be writing about politics right now if it weren’t for Rush.
I should tell you that I’ve always had an interest in history. Among the many dollars, I’ve spent on numerous degrees is a minor in American history. I would be remiss if I did not point out that my brother is the real historian in the family, though. He has his Master’s degree in it. He wrote a convincing thesis on third-party politics in nineteenth-century America.
Because of this, I would have always taken a historical interest in American politics. Still, it was listening to, then watching, and reading Rush’s analysis on day-to-day politics that filled me with curiosity about civics and government. Since that time, I’ve taught history and government. I’ve written about history and government. I take part in history and government.
None of us ever quite know what, in particular, compels us to choose one reasonable option over another. That can only come from an objective review after the fact. As I reflect on Rush Limbaugh’s passing, I realize how much of an impact he had on who I’ve become. All I can say is what a Rush…
As always, this has been the World, According to Chris.
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