I’m not entirely sure at what point in my life I started moving politically toward the Right – I suppose it was growing up in a fairly economically depressed area and being very disturbed by how social programs tended to fail miserably at doing anything other than keeping poor people poor. I remember reading one article that said that a mother of four on welfare would need a job making roughly $55K a year to be able to afford the housing, insurance, food and daycare provided (inadequately) by social services. There was simply no path for someone in those circumstances to try and improve their educational level or to shoot for better job skills because there are/were so few blue-collar jobs that would provide the income necessary for survival. The most logical and compassionate path for a woman in that position to take was to maintain the status quo: stay on the government dole.
Some people take information like that and process it as the idea that we need MORE social programs with better benefits and higher taxes to pay for them. I disagreed then and I disagree now. What gives people the best shot at escaping welfare and poverty is education and employment at an annual income well above the poverty line. U.S. Steel, General Motors, UPS, 3M, ‘Ma Bell’ – American businesses have fed generations of people and their employees’ paychecks have funded millions of children through college. It seems to me that America works best when business prospers. Give people adequate education and either encouragement and support toward entrepreneurialism or a chance at gainful employment and they will thrive. And where education is concerned, the Republican sentiment that education fares best when the Feds leave state and local governments the hell alone seems on the mark to me as well.
I don’t have the brain to write sweeping explanations of Right/Left politics in America. I just know that – for me – the Republican idea of strong business and less government makes sense. I tend personally to be in the very middle of the Conservative equation: I support a strong military, lower taxes and more initiatives for business, social programs that are finite and help people quickly re-enter the work force, but I also tend to be moderately liberal (choke, gasp) on social issues. As long as people don’t try to force their lifestyles down the throat of others – especially the throats of children – they should be able to live as they please. Abortion saddens me – as it does most everyone I’ve ever met – but I don’t think we need a return to coat-hangers and underground abortionists. And one of the few things that keeps me from fully drinking the kool-aid and becoming a GOP cultist is it’s flippant and stupid attitude toward environmental issues. Anyone who can’t walk outside in February and see that something is fucking WRONG with our planet is just an idiot.
But anyway – I say all of the above to say this: Rush Limbaugh makes me fucking crazy. On one hand, I sometimes love to see the old boy just cowboy up and bash the shit out of the Left – specially the Garrofolo / Franken ‘celebrity liberal’ crowd. But on the other hand, I don’t think you could find a more arrogant and obtuse media figure in American history. Limbaugh picked-up a hammer at some point in his career and he’s been swinging it with reckless abandon ever since. I have no sympathy for the man. The statements he made about NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb - true or not – were just plain idiotic. And the man makes me so angry with his ‘fuck the environment’ attitude that I had to quit listening to him on AM radio long ago. Conservatives are their own worst enemy sometimes and allowing Limbaugh to command the bully pulpit for the American Right was just plain dumb. There are millions of women, blacks, latinos and – shudder! – gays who quietly lean to the Right only to be repulsed by The Man With The Golden Microphone. The disclosure of Limbaugh’s ‘drug problem’ and the very public beating he’s about to take is just classic ‘pride proceeding the fall’ stuff.
I am very heartened by the Centrist revolution (or maybe ‘evolution’ is the better word) taking shape within the ranks of the GOP right now. The GOP could – if it will move toward a more inclusive attitude on social issues – become less the stereotyped party of wealthy / heartless white men and more a party of people from all walks of life.
Even if Limbaugh survives the shit storm – and he will – it should open the door for more sane Conservative voices in the media: folks like Tucker Carlson and Joe Scarborough and JC Watts and the possibility that a truly ‘compassionate conservative’ view of America gets equal air-time.
Rush Limbaugh’s fall from grace could be the start of something positive for a new generation of Conservatives.Powered by Sidelines