Unfiltered. Uncut. Unapologetic.
During the height of his power in the 1990s, Rush Limbaugh was radio’s Michael Jordan. Both were dominant. Jordan won six titles in eight years (taking two years off for baseball). Limbaugh racked in 20 million listeners per week. Jordan was ruthless, using anything to gain a competitive advantage over his opponent. Rush employed similar tactics. He lambasted anyone that stood in his way. He was humorous and brutally direct simultaneously. And it was stunningly effective.
Rush went into every radio broadcast with two goals: (1) to entertain his audience and (2) to defeat his political adversaries. In an interview with NPR in 2007, Rush explained that civility got him nowhere in the political arena. To get things done, he had to be brash and bold.
“Getting along is not the objective when it comes to the war on terror, when it comes to tax policy,” Limbaugh said. “To me, defeating, politically, people I disagree with is the order of the day, and I don’t think I defeat them by compromising with them.”
Rush, naturally, was right. One of Rush’s biggest draws was that he gave the common conservative a voice again. He didn’t just say the things people thought, he proclaimed them boldly. He knew his listeners needed someone to give them the courage to stand up and fight. And he knew he was the person for that job.
The Republican Revolution of 1994 saw the GOP dominate the midterm elections and take back control of the House of Representatives for the first time in 40 years. Many Republicans credited Rush for the party’s success in the midterms. Then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich appreciated Rush’s efforts so much that he made him an honorary member of the incoming class.
Fast forward 20 years. America was coming off of eight years of former President Barack Obama. So many Americans felt like they are being ignored by their politicians. The GOP had turned into a corporatist party (Mitt Romney literally said that corporations were people when campaigning for president in 2012) which had abandoned the common, working class man. The Republican party desperately needed someone to shake things up.
Enter former President Donald Trump.
Trump stormed into the 2016 presidential race with a vengeance. Like a boxer in his prime, Trump didn’t pull any punches. He went after the Washington, D.C. establishment and exposed them for who they really were: members of the swamp.
But not many people in the media readily joined Team Trump leading up to the election. But Rush Limbaugh, per usual, was ahead of the game. Rush embraced the president. He took a chance on Trump that not many other right-wing pundits did. And, obviously, it paid off.
Rush’s endorsement was poetic in a sense. Ever since the late 80s, Rush was the media version of Trump. His style and success paved the way for Trump to steamroll his way to the Oval Office.
Trump channeled his inner Rush the past five years. He viciously attacked his enemies (and he had quite a few!), skewered anyone who stood in his way of helping the American people, and, most importantly, gave a voice back to those who did not have one. Trump’s unfiltered style of communication was a breath of fresh air for people all over the country. People trusted Trump. He wasn’t a politician. He was a champion of the common man. He genuinely cared.
Going back to Rush’s interview in 2007, while his style was humorous and entertaining, Rush didn’t get behind a microphone every day to get schooled by liberals. He wanted to win not only for his ego, but also for his country and the American people he represented.
Trump has that same exact mindset. Trump has never been known to treat his enemies with civility. Instead, he used his platform to expose them. Much like Rush, Trump injected humor to connect with the American people while simultaneously branding his opponents. Trump slapped nicknames onto anyone and anything that got in his way (“Crooked Hillary,” “Crazy Bernie,” “Pocahontas,” “Sleepy Joe,” “Fake News Media,” etc.). Does this remind of you of anything that Rush did (*cough* *cough* “feminazis”)?
Both men were beloved by millions of Americans. Rush raked in crazy numbers on a daily basis while Trump raked in the most presidential votes out of any Republican in history. They were each a champion of the middle class American.
The love and adoration that both of these men have attained is perfectly summed up by a man who called into the Rush Limbaugh Show in later November. The gentleman emotionally told Rush how the GOP had abandoned the American people after the 2020 election. And that the only people who would fight for the common man was him and Trump.
Ultimately, Rush stood up for the American people when no one else would. And he did it his way. And he helped pave the way for Trump to do the exact thing.
Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump.
Unfiltered. Uncut. Unapologetic.