So, the greatest and oldest democracy in the world (no offense, India) has now been given a grand choice of leaders to take up the yoke after eight years of Barack Obama. Door Number One, "the lady," a woman who lied and smeared her way to the top, enabling her sexual predator of a husband, raking in millions from America's enemies and bankers for speeches, and cheering whenever Planned Parenthood put another baby part on E-Bay. Door Number Two: "the tiger," a casino-owning playboy and political Sugar Daddy who promises to get tough with strawberry pickers and the wives and children of our enemies.
A pox on both your houses. And a pox on Rush Limbaugh.
Yes, I am blaming Rush Limbaugh for this mess.
It's not just that, after decades of telling us how important conservatism is, Limbaugh spent months yacking and yucking it up with the phoniest conservative who ever set sail, one who wouldn't fool a child who thinks his sister in a mask on Halloween really has turned into a witch, or that Pro Wrestling is a genuine competitive sport. Nor is it just that Limbaugh spent so much of previous elections, by contrast, ruining the good names of genuine, if impure, conservatives like John McCain, who had a long record of opposing abortion and Big Government, and standing up for a strong military. (Not to mention risking his life for America in a navy jet and a Hanoi prison.)
Limbaugh's guilt goes deeper than such obvious double standards.
Limbaugh's fundamental error lies in the theme of his propaganda, the "Us vs. Them" model, that is his basic product, what coffee is to Starkbucks, and mass-produced beef is to McDonalds. His essential heresy is his whole Conservative Vs. Liberal schtick.
Not that I repudiate conservatism! I read Edmund Burke as a young man, concluded he was right (especially in view of communism, which proved the value of many of his warnings), and remain convinced. I still believe government is a necessary evil that should be kept in its place. I still believe in the "little platoons" Burke wrote about, and that Charles Colson exemplified, which sociologist Robert Woodberry showed led to so much freedom around the world. I think it wise, when contemplating unborn children, to err on the side of protection. I recognize the world contains evil forces, which must be challenged and checked to be kept from harming America's interests and friends, and keep a modicum of sanity in the world.
But as Alexander Solzhenitsyn put it, I also recognize that the line between good and evil runs through every heart.
Failure to keep that in mind is Limbaugh's fundamental error. While recognizing the value and truth of conservative positions, one of those positions is to recognize that "liberals" are not our most fundamental opponents -- our own hearts are. And Limbaugh's pride, self-righteousness, and self-satisfaction, while affording a Trumpean amusement to his fans, are also serious character flaws, serious misreadings of reality, trash-talking and over-simplifications at which liberals are right to scoff.
"With half my brain tied behind my back." "Talent on loan from G-A-W-D."
Trump in embryonic form on the EIB Network.
Yes, Limbaugh was mocking the pretensions and false pieties of liberalism, which could stand to be mocked. But egoism is not, in the end, a virtue, nor is blasphemy something that Christians should encourage.
Also, Limbaugh's world was fundamentally too simple. He knew that, because away from the mic, he golfed with those people, and met them as friends. But his schtick could not model reality, and so his daily Us vs. Them diatribes over-simplified conservative perceptions (sometimes I fell for it), and set us up for a fundamental disconnect with reality.
We forgot that "right" and "wrong" are more fundamental, and more complex, than "right" and "left."
But then Classic Coke got old, and Limbaugh adopted a new business model. From now on, having secured an audience, he sicced it less and less on "liberals," which was old and lacked the tang of adventure, but on "rinos," Republicans In Name Only, or the Republican "Establishment:" John McCain, Mitt Romney at times, John Boehner, perhaps even Marco Rubio, when he strayed.
But such rhetoric was even more unreal, because it was unbiblical. It smelled more of Karl Marx than Jesus Christ. It neglected the fact that no category of human beings is simply good or simply evil, but that a line runs through every heart, dividing motives and ambitions, and revealing the primary need to open our hearts before God in confession and repentance.
Are McCain, Romney, Boehner, Cruz, Trump, and Rubio good men, or bad?
During the long campaign that is now winding up, the peculiar thing is that so few even bothered to ask such fundamental questions. Hardly anyone asked if Ted Cruz is a decent person. And Trump's supporters, and Cruz's supporters (he was also guilty of fostering this perversely un-Christian psychology, for instance in his purity-wars against Rubio), never stopped to ask that fundamental question, focusing on the Marxist question of how close their men stood in relation to the halls of power, instead.
If you belonged to the Establishment, you were a traitor by definition: part of the problem, a quisling who allowed Barack Obama to run wild. (I doubt Obama feels that way.)
But virtue is not defined by wealth or poverty. Jesus met each person as an individual, lunching with the rich and poor, praising the politically-connected and prostitutes, beggars, along with little old ladies with homes hardly worth eminent-domaining to build a casino parking lot.
So Rush Limbaugh is a heretic. Which is to say, while intelligent,entertaining, often insightful, Limbaugh is, in the end, a pagan and fundamentally simple-minded fellow.
I am not Joseph in Egypt, and have no vouchsafed vision of the future. But the next four years look rough. Perhaps we can begin saving America, during those years, by turning off our radios, opening our Bibles, and listening again to the man whom George Bush (of all people) called his favorite political philosopher.