For background, see Felix on Rush, Part I.
This is Part II of my comments on Felix’s anti-Rush Limbaugh post. Felix’s quotes are in italics.
At a community “Obama bash” I went to this Saturday afternoon, a woman questioned that me as a conservative (albeit a moderate conservative that Rush hates with a passion) what draws me to President Barack Obama, I explained that President Obama transcends party politics. Those who feel that it’s cliche to say that he’s a transformational leader—tough, the proof is in the pudding! America is blessed at this time for somebody who dares to look outside the box for a change.
I can understand Felix’s point here, for I had the same impression when I read Barack Obama’s Audacity of Hope. Obama goes out of his way to hear and acknowledge all sorts of perspectives–right, left, and center–and those who knew him as a law professor relate that he was that way back then. I liked the parts of Obama’s book that criticized government bureaucracy, especially when he said he can understand why people get frustrated when they visit their local government office and notice the bureaucrats taking their sweet time.
At the same time, I have no idea why a conservative would vote for Barack Obama. And I don’t just ask this about Felix. I wonder it about Peggy Noonan, or my Republican relatives, or the red state of Indiana. In so many respects, Barack Obama is a liberal. He’s trying to jump-start the economy with more government spending. He’s overturned George W. Bush’s pro-life policies on abortion. He’s a nice guy, and he has good ideas, but he’s not exactly a conservative Democrat.
This brings me to the next quote:
Frankly, the Republicans need to be co-operating with the President but at the same time not compromising their principles. As a conservative, I believe that President Obama needs to listen to the voice of fiscal responsiblity and yes, some kind of fiscal restraint when necessary. This is where the Republicans should come in make their case. Does Rush Limbaugh want the the very liberal, tax and spend wing of the Democratic party to call the shots?
I’ll probably be contradicting myself in this part. Part of me wonders if bipartisanship is truly possible, when both sides have such different points of view. If Barack Obama wants to jump-start the economy through more government spending and “tax cuts” for people who don’t pay taxes, and conservative Republicans find such ideas anathema, then why should they support Obama’s plan?
At the same time, bipartisanship has occurred in the past, so it’s not beyond the realm of possibility. There’s No Child Left Behind, the Prescription Drug Benefit, ethics reform, Kennedy-Kassebaum, welfare reform, etc., etc. During the Clinton health care debacle, there were Republicans who proposed alternative plans to address the rising costs of health care. And I remember watching on C-Span a remarkable example of bipartisan cooperation: Conservative Senator Tom Coburn wanted to cut stuff out of farm subsidies, and liberal Senator Tom Harkin said he shared that goal, but didn’t like Coburn’s way of going about it. So they agreed to meet and see what they could come up with.
I’m not sure why bipartisanship sometimes occurs, and sometimes does not. It doesn’t always grow out of a spirit of cooperation, for the balanced budget and welfare reform of the 1990’s emerged after a lot of clashes between Clinton and the Republican Congress. They argued and debated and fought and stalled until finally they could arrive at something that both agreed upon.
What’s my point? I’m not sure. It’s nice when both sides can work together to accomplish something, but it’s not always feasible when the positions are too different. And good bipartisanship doesn’t always require people to roll over and play dead (as Obama seems to want the Republicans to do), for diamonds can emerge out of a knock-down, drag-out fight.
Rush in his narrow ideology believes that the Republicans must seize power, take power for the sake of it.
I don’t think Rush wants Republicans to gain power for the sake of power. He wants them to gain it so they can make conservative policy. Rush’s problem with the Republicans is that they don’t always have that same commitment to conservatism!
Rush is an idealogue. He does not believe in compromise. He’s stated again, and again, and again, that Democrats win because the American public wants true conservatism, and will vote for conservatives whom they know will not sell out on this. Moderates, according to him, are almost imperceivable from conservative Democrats, so they jeopardize “the cause”.
Rush calls others obstructionists, yet he advocates obstructionism, or lack of compromise with conservative ideals. He points to the extreme segment of liberals, and wants us to believe that they represent the ultimate goal of every liberal, when the American public is predominantly centrist, and most presidents only succeed if they govern from a centrist position, or one that is slightly to the left, or slightly to the right of center.
The USA has been polarized. Red states, blue states. We’ve been at an angry impasse for a number of years now. Rush calls it the cultural war. He says the libs know nothing of the constitution, and want to be “activists” and to “update” it, which to him means flushing it down the toilet. Personally, I don’t believe Barrack Obama has any intentions of doing that.
As of right now, President Obama has the support of most of the nation, and hopefully can promote healing. While I’m all for principled dissent, I am hoping that talk radio doesn’t do a total fear mongering thing on the president, undermining him. They surely tried this on president Clinton, but we still ended up having some prosperous and peaceful years, although Rush had forecast a huge recession and the massive disrespect of all of our overseas enemies.
What I object to about all of this is the same thing that I objected to about the Armstrongs. Like Rush, they kept everyone stressed and agitated through their fear mongering. That’s an awful way to govern. I’m not a liberal. I’m somewhat conservative. But, there are people out there right now who are scared to death that our nation is perched right on the abyss. Rush is partially responsible for that.
The same sort of thought has crossed my mind before, BB, believe it or not. “The political atmosphere would be so much better–so much nicer–so much more productive, if Rush Limbaugh weren’t on the air poisoning the national discourse.” But then my mind turns to the First Amendment, and how the founding fathers believed that even ideologues had a right to speak, since that could benefit the country. I’m not saying you’re advocating censorship, since you’re probably talking more about the responsibility broadcasters should acknowledge. It’s just that the very existence of the First Amendment tells me that the founding fathers saw value even in a potential ideologue being able to spew his opinions. And they acknowledged that there would be conflicting factions, meaning leaders wouldn’t always agree or cooperate. But they were okay with that sort of set-up too.
For the last hundred years, we have been hearing the same story in a thousand variations: American conservatism would be more complelling if it didn’t exist. Sadly, the two Bush presidents were both standard economic progressives who were painted as American conservatives, with the result that Americans have firmly rejected the policy that wasn’t in effect over the last decade. I don’t see the end of the world in all this, but things could get really nasty.
I like to look for the silver lining. If materialism isn’t an option, perhaps more people will seek the Lord.
Yeah, and I get annoyed when people pronounce conservatism dead just because McCain and Republicans lost. They weren’t calling liberalism dead when the Democrats lost election after election. Plus, conservatives are lucky to get power even once in a while, so their existence or relevance doesn’t depend on electoral success. People wrote off the Republican Party in 1964, but it made a come-back.