The Problem With The Republican Party Isn’t Rush Limbaugh

by John Hawkins | March 11, 2009 8:04 am

Between Obama’s “enemies list” and the David Frum’s of the world, who are trying to fill the “I’m a Republican who hates Republicans, please promote me, liberal media” niche, Rush Limbaugh has been under regular attack for the last few weeks.

But, let me be clear: the problem with the Republican Party is most certainly not Rush Limbaugh or, for that matter, the other conservative talk show hosts out there.

To the contrary, they are the one group of people over the last few years who were able to successfully get a message out to a large number of conservatives and effectively push an agenda.

Put another way, imagine the Republican Party as a football team.

* The defensive line gets pushed all over the field.
* The linebackers can’t tackle.
* The cornerback keeps getting burned for big gains.
* The quarterback has a bad shoulder and can barely throw the ball.
* The running backs are constantly getting hurt.
* The wide receivers are slow and have bad hands.
* But, the offensive line — it’s opening huge holes and giving the QB great pass protection.

Yet, we have people looking at this whole sorry mess and going: you know what the problem is here? It’s that darn offensive line — especially that all-pro left tackle, Rush Limbaugh!

The problems that the Republican Party has had over the last few years have not been caused by talk radio. In fact, many of the party’s worst screw-ups have come because the geniuses in Washington DIDN’T LISTEN to what conservative talk radio was telling them. Look to Harriet Miers, the Dubai Port deal, deficit spending, TARP, John McCain, illegal immigration, etc., etc., etc. for examples of that.

Now, is Rush the “leader” of the Republican Party? No, he’s not and almost everybody knows that, including most of the people who are screaming “Rush is the Republican Party’s leader” the loudest. Is Rush Limbaugh as popular with the general public as he is with conservatives? Of course not. Most of them have never heard his show and so their opinion is heavily influenced by the Left’s demonization of him.

That being said, Rush is incredibly influential. He has proven himself over the long haul, he has the largest audience in the business, and other than Reagan, he has done more to move the ball forward for conservatives than anybody else in America over the last three decades. Countless conservatives, myself included, are conservatives because of Rush. Moreover, Rush Limbaugh’s overwhelming success paved the way not only for other conservative talk show hosts, but I believe, for many of the conservative bloggers out there. Again, that was certainly the case with me. When I started blogging, my thought was, “If Rush made a career out of talk radio, why can’t I make a career out of blogging?”

All that being said, had Rush Limbaugh’s advice over the last few years actually been followed by the GOP, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the Party would have considerably more seats in Congress than we do today and we just might have the White House as well.

But, getting back to the complaints about Rush. The left hates him because he’s effective. That’s understandable. But, what about the people on the right who don’t like him? Well, they tend to be moderates who want to see conservatives marginalized in the GOP so that we can become a “Democrat-light” party.

The problem with this is that the majority of the GOP’s supporters are conservative, not moderate. Moreover, if you’re talking about the campaign volunteers, the big name bloggers, the big name talk radio hosts, the powerhouse organizations, the huge donors, etc., etc., — they’re almost all conservative. Conservatives, whose views Rush represents very well, are the engine of the Republican Party and the anti-Rush crowd is the equivalent of the hubcaps. I know that’s very harsh, but it’s also true.

If you don’t buy that, go pick the 5 biggest Rush haters who are still calling themselves Republicans, until they can’t milk any more liberal media attention out of it, and ask yourself: how many conservatives do you know that genuinely respect these people? What great arguments have they advanced? What have they achieved for the Republican Party and conservatism? If they were giving a speech, how many people would show up to hear what they have to say? Now, compare all of them combined to Rush Limbaugh. Could they draw 1/100 of the crowd he could? Have they ever humiliated Harry Reid or run something like Operation Chaos? Do they have millions of conservatives behind them or a few hundred conservatives and hordes of liberal cheerleaders who will keep saying nice things about them as long as they attack Rush? The answers are obvious.

There are a lot of areas where the GOP needs to make a lot of improvements to get competitive again, but talk radio isn’t one of them — nor is Rush Limbaugh. Rush is part of the solution for what ails the GOP, not part of the problem.

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