Before all of you go off and call me a RINO, let me once again state that I am a through and through dedicated, intellectually honest conservative and my goal in these articles is to call both Republicans and conservatives back to true conservatism.
Besides the Republicans in government, my biggest beef for years now in our movement has been the conservative talk show hosts on radio and TV. I believe they are destroying our movement. Did Rush Limbaugh and the like help in the conservative surge in the 90’s? Yes they did. Have they done more damage than good in the long run? The answer is also yes. Let me lay out my argument.
What’s Really Important To Them – I have spent the last ten years of my life in media and I understand what drives these shows and it isn’t a commitment to the conservative cause. Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck and others are all multi-millionaires and they get these millions from one thing … RATINGS! What is best for driving up ratings isn’t what is always best for the conservative movement. Intellectual discussions about conservatism don’t create high ratings, but opposing the other side no matter what does. Getting people angry does. Saying controversial things does. In a moment of honesty, Limbaugh said after the 1992 election that Clinton winning will actually help his ratings and he was right. They live for ratings, not the furtherance of the conservative movement. They feed off of ginning up anger and controversy to create bigger ratings, but that is not the way to create a majority movement in this country.
Preaching To The Choir – They tell you what you want to hear rather than what you need to hear. While Limbaugh and Hannity were declaring that Obama was finished and singing the praises of the Republican field, some of us were living in reality. I sat at a table at the National Religious Broadcasters convention two years ago. Everyone was convinced there would be no way Obama could win again. I disagreed and one person in particular mocked my political prediction. I simply pointed out that it is rare for an incumbent president to lose. It took a Reagan to beat Carter and Carter was leading all the way until the last week of the 1980 election. I looked at the Republican field and saw what most of the country saw … a very weak group. Sometimes you have to view things from other people’s perspective and challenge your side to do the same. When I was a pastor I spent a lot of time outside the church walls in the “real” world. That way I understood how people who didn’t go to church felt about church. I saw church through their eyes and therefore was able to reach them in ways that “churchy” folks couldn’t. I never compromised on my faith principles, to do so, just like conservatives don’t have to compromise on ours to get others over to our point of view. The problem, though, is we spend too much time in our “conservative bubble” and we simply don’t understand why everyone doesn’t think like us. The talk show hosts survive by keeping us in that bubble and it is hurting us as a movement.
Intellectual Dishonesty – They know they can’t get high ratings by always telling you the truth. What is a basic truth they hide from you? Sometimes the other side is right and we are wrong. Where was the anger on these shows in 2003, 04 and 05 when a Republican congress and president was exploding the debt? Where was the anger when they were mishandling two wars that cost thousands of our soldiers’ lives? People outside the bubble see the hypocrisy on our side. Hannity was quick to hit Obama when the stock market went down, but says nothing now that it is up. I remember one week where they were blasting Obama for not leading the way in Libya and than blasting Obama later in the week for getting involved in Libya. It is hypocrisy and we hate it when the socialists on MSNBC do it, so why do we tolerate it on our side. We need to be better than them, not sink to their level. Once again let me state that I oppose 90% of everything Obama stands for and have voted against him twice. The point of this paragraph and the entire article is not to say Obama is right, it is to point out that we have been wrong and when we don’t hold our side accountable, the country will hold us accountable and our future will be filled with more Obamas and Clintons.
The Voice Of Our Party – You want to win in 2016? If the answer is yes, then part of the solution is these talk show hosts have to stop being the voice of our party. In 1984, Reagan was the voice of our party and we won in a landslide. The conservative talk show hosts have been the loudest and most active voices in our movement since Reagan left office. What is their track record as the voice of our movement? The Democrats have won four of the last six presidential elections and they won the popular vote in 2000. On their watch, the Republicans gained control of Congress only to squander it by increasing spending and enlarging our debt. Then the talk show hosts not only pushed for war, but also constantly made excuses as Republicans abandoned their principles and botched both wars while sending us down the path of unsustainable debt. Year after year they thrust upon the movement intellectually inferior candidates that get crushed in the general election. Twice now we have lost the opportunity to take back the Senate because we embraced the darlings of these talk show hosts. We are losing America because when America sees conservatism, they see and hear Limbaugh and Hannity.
The Lamestream Media – We have all made fun of them and we have all been enraged by what we consider their leftist bias, but they are the key to us winning it all. Yes they are biased, but so are the conservative talk shows. We have to stop seeing the world through conservative talk show eyes and see it through the mainstream media’s eyes. I am not saying that we take their point of view. I am saying that most of the swing voters that decide elections watches them verses “our” outlets so we better know what they are seeing and how our movement is fairing in their eyes. When the right conservative messenger (Reagan) comes along, they are able to overcome the bias slant in the media. Reagan held up strong to the scrutiny because he was a strong candidate. I would argue that the reason the paper tigers that the talk shows hosts love, like Palin, fell apart from the barrage is because they were weak candidates. We overlook their weaknesses because our talk show hosts told us to.
Despite the evidence that we were raising up inferior candidates, the Limbaugh Hannity types told us not to believe our lying eyes and that everything would be ok if we would just listen to their enlightened points of view. The talk shows have lowered our standards into what creates ratings verse what wins elections and moves our country to the right. We need candidates and voices that can’t be knocked down by the mainstream media or the socialists at MSNBC. As conservatives we often mock the crazy “everyone is a winner” movement. No not everyone is a winner and as conservatives we have to stop watching and listening to shows that tell us that every “conservative” is a winner and everything a “conservative” does is right. If we don’t challenge ourselves to higher standards and better candidates, how can we expect our movement to endure the challenge of the American public?
Reagan won without Fox News and without conservative talk radio. He set the conservative movement on a path that should have lasted for 50+ years and instead we are on the edge of losing America for the next two generations due to our own failings as a movement. One landslide after another was ours for the taking, but we threw it all away by embracing intellectual inferiority and hypocrisy. One great candidate can turn it all around and stop the bleeding. When that time comes, they must be the voice of our movement, not Fox News and not Rush Limbaugh.