RUSH: Ron in Santa Barbara you’re up first on Open Line Friday. Great to have you here.
CALLER: Rush, it’s a pleasure to be with you. You are a national resource, a national treasure. I hope you never die. I hope you live to be older than water or dirt.
CALLER: I don’t want you to be down in the mouth about the lack of not having Ronaldus Magnus on the ticket. We don’t have the New England Patriots on the field, but last night was kickoff season for the political season, and both teams have run back for touchdowns. It’s wide open on the Republican side. And you’re absolutely right, the big story is we’re going to begin to close the book on the Clintons. They’re history.
RUSH: Let me tell you something, the Democrat race may be over. It’s a little premature to say that. The Republican race is still wide open. There’s still going to be three to four candidates in these debates on Saturday, maybe five. On the Democrat side you got the Breck Girl but he’s out of it because he doesn’t have any money, he finished second after coming in second in Iowa four years ago. And, by the way, I watched the Breck Girl’s speech last night. There is no way the Breck girl is going to throw his support to Mrs. Clinton. When the time comes, he’s going to throw it to Barack Obama. He made that clear. If you learn how to read between the lines and read the stitches on a fastball. Look, let me try to clarify something. I am a professional communicator, and apparently I’m failing here in my highly trained specialty. I am not upset so much over the roster of candidates. It is what it is.
I hope I’m wrong about how large the sentiment is. But I’m a little distressed that so many people on our side, average Americans, the people who are the focus of this program — remember, the focus of this program is to create as many informed, educated, engaged people as possible, participating in the electoral process and other things, and voting so that when we win elections there’s a mandate. Now, this is 2008 that we are in, and I’m into my 20th year, 19-and-a-half years here. This is a little different than going back to 1988 when we started or 1992. In 1992, we’d been doing this for four years, and the Drive-By Media was still pretty much a monopoly. It was in the process of being broken down and broken apart. But here we are 19-plus years after we started here, and it just bothers me that there are people who are willing to throw away what they know wins, what they know works, in exchange for populism or what have you. My concern is not so much the candidates, because they are who they are and they’re there based on their desire to run.
I’m still not expressing this correctly, and it’s not that I’m having trouble finding the words. Well, maybe it is that I’m having trouble finding the words. But what distresses me is that I get all these phone calls. ‘Bush isn’t conservative enough, Rush. When are you going to stop telling us that he’s good? When are you going to stop telling us that we should support him? And these Republicans in Congress, they’re not conservative. I’m voting against them.’ Okay, good, they’re not conservative enough for you, I understand that. ‘You gotta stop carrying their water.’ Now all of a sudden you don’t care about anybody being conservative. You don’t care about it! What am I to do as host? You give me grief because I seem to stand behind people not conservative enough and now all of a sudden it’s you, not all of you, of course, giving me grief because I’m not abandoning conservatism like you are. You’re abandoning conservative beliefs for reasons that scare me. You’re not thinking. You’re feeling. You’re seeing something that’s conservative when it’s not because you want it to be.
You’re falling into this trap of becoming victims. You’re allowing the news media to dictate your mood and your attitude and your contentment, your happiness, and then you’re ultimately relying on the election of individuals to change your life. This is not what conservatives support candidates for, liberals do that. So if I have any angst of my own, it could probably best be expressed by the perception, anyway, that people who in the past have been rock-ribbed conservative and may still think they are, are all of a sudden looking to government as their salvation, as their fix, as their hope, and it just troubles me because that’s not what government is in your individual lives.
RUSH: I’m getting e-mails, ‘Rush, what is this economic security business you’re talking about? Where did this come from?’ I’m watching the news last night. I’m watching the election coverage. I’m hearing all these Republican commentators say the Republican Party is blowing it by not understanding that this feeling of economic insecurity is really rife and widespread among conservative Republicans. Now, rather than argue with that… (sigh) I don’t think there’s any reason, or not a whole lot of reasons for economic insecurity. Here I’m going to sound like I’m out of touch. But I look at this economy, I see 96% of the American people paying their mortgages. They’re not losing their homes. They’re not being foreclosed on. I see record employment, record low unemployment. Sure, we’ve got some things: gasoline prices rising. This has happened before. The price of everything goes up all the time. We’ve got war in Iraq. I understand that there’s angst! So let me just accept it. Rather than argue about it and rather than try to lift people up with an emotional and inspirational plea to just not participate in it. We’re in the United States of America, for crying out loud! We are not prisoners of some tyranny or dictatorship yet. We have the ability to do whatever we want; try whatever we want. It’s up to us!
Yet so many people seem so willing to turn it over to the government, when there’s angst or trials or tribulations. So let me just ask you a question: Those of you in this large, sizeable, lovable, and highly appreciated audience who are in the midst of feeling this economic insecurity, what do you want Mike Huckabee to do about it? What do you want John McCain to do about it? What do you want Barack Obama to do about it? What do you want John Edwards to do about it? What I fear is that people are confusing populism with conservatism. Populism is a political figure telling you whatever he thinks you want to hear, designed to make you think he only cares about you and fixing your situation. You know, I have to chuckle. The Breck Girl tells all these horror stories that make this country sound like it’s 1920s Louisiana, and he’s out there and he’s doing these personal interviews on stage during his appearances where people have lost their jobs, or they’ve lost money, or they’ve lost this or that. Remember in New Hampshire some time ago, he took a question from a young girl who was having problems with her student loans, and she was beside herself? She didn’t know how she’s going to pay ’em back, and what did the Breck Girl do?
Did the Breck Girl offer to help her personally? No! Did the Breck Girl offer to help any of these sorry cases that he cites? Does he ever offer to help them personally? Does he ever say, ‘I can help you right now’? No! He makes them wait until he’s elected president, and what’s he going to do? He’s going to supposedly get even with the people causing them their stress. But he isn’t going to help them because government can’t, unless you turn your life over to it, and become a victim and you’re going to become dependent on government doing everything for you, that’s the only way it can happen. But you have a momentary economic crisis in your life, it’s your responsibility; you fix it. If you turn it over to the government you’ve got to turn over every aspect of your life, because they don’t fix individual problems. Yet so many people think that Candidate A or Candidate B is going to do that, especially in the area of health care. ‘Yeah, I wanted a liver transplant. I didn’t get it in time and my daughter died.’ Yeah, so you’re going to elect John Edwards and maybe 20 years from now the people responsible will be held accountable?
Where is this notion here that electing any single human being is going to fix a momentary, temporary, very personal economic problem? The resulting dissent into victimhood and then seeing a populist approach, and you think it’s conservative because it’s compassionate or cares or whatever? Folks, it just scares me, because this is how we get charlatans elected. It is how we get people who use the misery and suffering of others in order to advance their own political fortunes. I’m not thinking of a particular person. I’m speaking in terms of generals. Hell, there have been so many. Perot is a populist. Pat Buchanan in 1992 was a populist. Remember NAFTA? He was running against George H. W. Bush for the Republican nomination. I endorsed Buchanan in New Hampshire because I wanted a conservative presence in the debate because I feared that George H. W. Bush was going to lose because he had abandoned conservatism. (‘Read my lips: no new taxes,’ remember this?) Buchanan is running, and I was stunned. He was one of the arch-conservatives of my youth and here he is running as a populist! He’s talking about all these factories that he’s visited in New Hampshire, and they’re closing down, and he saw all these people.
And he went on to lose, by the way. He had the peasants with their pitchforks. Perot had the volunteers. It seems history repeats itself in this regard. Populists have an appeal, and I learned I’m really wasting my breath here. I ought to just stick with the issues and what happened in Iowa, and I think I’m going to be done with this at the end of this hour, because one thing I learned in 1992: You can’t talk populist beliefs out of people. You just can’t do it. All it does is: They hate you, and they resent you for trying to tell them that what they’re feeling is incorrect. So you can’t talk a cultist out of his cult belief. I learned that in ’92 with Perot. You can’t talk to people who have a populist belief in a candidate; you just can’t talk ’em out of it. At some point it has to be revealed to these people individually. So I’ve had my say. Look, folks, it’s real simple. I have more respect for you than you can possibly know. I have more appreciation and understanding for your potential than you do. You can be so much better than you are. We all can. But you’re not going to get there waiting for a single candidate to come along and pay the electric bill, damn it!
RUSH: I want to try this one more time, ladies and gentlemen, because I still feel like I’m playing around the edges here when it comes to this populism versus conservatism thing. During the break it finally hit me how to explain to you and express to you what I really think, regarding populism versus conservatism, in the context of all this economic insecurity and angst that apparently is out there. I will tell you, it bothers me that there is that much, but it is what it is. See, here’s the thing, a number of people have called me over the years, as you have probably heard, ‘Rush, the people in this country are a bunch of idiots. You’re giving them too much credit.’ You’ve heard these calls when it comes to who wins elections, how many people vote liberal, Democrat and so forth. My rejoinder has always been, ‘Nah, I’ve got great faith in the American people.’ And I do. And that’s really what I figured out here over the break — what’s bothering me.
I use my own life as sort of a guide, and I use the stories of people I know who have come from nothing, and led by their ambition and their desire, which is 80% of achievement, by the way, all other things being equal, how badly you want it, what you’re willing to do to get it, that’s the determining factor. What I know is that everybody — there are exceptions, of course, because there are some self-starters — but everybody has more potential than they even know. Everybody has more ability than they know. Everybody can be better than they are, in any number of ways. It’s true of all of us. But most people, as I said, are not self-starters so we need mentors, teachers, people who inspire us, and a lot of people are looking for that, a lot of people are looking for leadership. We haven’t had a whole lot of leadership when it comes to our movement. Peggy Noonan said it well today about Governor Huckabee. He’s not really leading a movement. He’s riding a wave. People want leadership, and they respond to it when they get it. And unfortunately, sometimes they think leadership is leadership when it isn’t, when it’s populism. But all of this angst — let me join the angst crowd for just a second. All this angst is based on the fact that I have such an out-of-this-world notion of the potential of this country and the people who live in it. I know that it’s the people who make this country work.
By the way, Obama stole one of my lines in his speech last night: Ordinary people accomplishing extraordinary things. That’s what makes this country work; that’s what makes it great. Politicians don’t, lobbyists don’t, people in Washington that are elected, they’re not the definition of great. Government programs are not great. Let’s say that you’re in angst over college education for your kids, tuition. Well, yeah, it’s a big problem. There’s no question. It’s exorbitantly high. Who’s in charge of it? A bunch of libs. Who runs higher education? Bunch of libs. Who are the people always running around decrying what Big Oil is doing to you and Wal-Mart’s doing to you? They want to punish these people. They want to punish the engine of freedom. They want to punish the capitalist system. When it comes to college education, you are being raped, and your kids are being sent off to a bunch of places that are just nothing more than indoctrination centers, yet you want to get them in there. You gotta take out student loans, it’s exorbitant. What is a president going to do about this?
The president can’t wave a magic wand and demand to liberal administrators that universities lower tuition. Change the college loan rules and so forth? Maybe. Any number of other economic circumstances. David Brooks, New York Times, who takes a swipe at me today — but that’s not my point — says that the biggest problem facing America today, the biggest source of economic angst is divorce, that divorce causes more economic hardship on people than practically any other thing, and then it also causes a disruption of families. He says this is something that Huckabee knows. Huckabee is appealing to the morality and the culture and the values that keep families together will somehow resonate with people and they’ll understand that this is a way to fix the culture. I hate to tell you — Peggy Noonan makes this point, too, in a column today — there’s nothing the government can do about changing the culture. There really isn’t a whole lot the government can do about changing the culture. Take a look at whatever cultural rot you see and ask yourself: What’s happening in movies? What’s happening in music? What’s happening on television? What’s happening in the pop culture?
Look at this latest incident with Britney Spears and her sister getting pregnant. Britney Spears carted out of her house on a stretcher, holding her own kids hostage, boozing it up. What can the government do to fix the coverage that we all get of this? What can the government do? What can any elected official do? They can stop subsidizing various kinds of things. They can stop subsidizing dependence. But that isn’t going to happen with anybody, especially when you hear people talking about what the government can do to fix people’s lives. You think they’re going to try to make them less dependent? That’s not what entrenches politicians to power. Look, what I’m getting at here is that I would just hope that here in 2008 that a majority of Americans would be motivated to rely on themselves to try to take advantage of the freedom that being an American is. You look all around and you see robust signs of prosperity, you see success, you see people accomplishing great things either in the neighborhood or in the city or town where you live, or you read about it happening in other parts of the country. And for some reason it doesn’t click that maybe you could do the same thing. I just wish that it would.
So many people are so capable of so much more than they know. When that is the case, because this is the United States of America with unparalleled freedom and prosperity, for people to then throw up their hands in frustration and say, ‘Yeah, I really can’t do it, it’s not up to me, I’m going to let Obama do that for me, or I’m going to let Edwards, I’m going to let Huckabee, I’m going to let Fred Thompson,’ whoever the candidate is. You’re giving up and you’re allowing yourself to become a victim, and you’re not going to get what you want. You may be satisfied when the people that you’re mad at have things happen to them that hurts them so you feel like you’re getting even, but it doesn’t really help you out all that much. If people who earn more money than you do get a tax increase, fine, you may feel better, yeah, get even with those people. But how does it help you in your own bottom line? It doesn’t.
Anyway, a brief time-out. We’ll continue here with the continuing analysis of what happened in Iowa last night on all sides and your phone calls on Open Line Friday. Folks, one more thing. I want you to understand, I say this stuff precisely because I love you and I love this country, and I know what’s possible here. I know so many people do not have the thought that they can do it themselves, and I just can’t tell you how it hurts, and it depresses me, and it makes me want to go back to basics here and explain to you what conservatism really is, why it wins, how it wins, how it works, which is I guess what I’m doing here is essentially going back to basics. Politicians talk about wanting the best for everybody. Well, so do I. I just have a different recipe of how that happens, and I just don’t think it happens through them.