RUSH: Doug in Charleston, South Carolina. Hello, sir. Great to have you here.
CALLER: My question for you simply is this, in light of the State of the Union tomorrow and the state of the conservative movement, my question is, what do you believe your father would say, if he were able to reflect back and see what has transpired with the conservative movement over the last 20 to 30 years.
RUSH: My dad would be devastated. He would be devastated from the standpoint that he’d be scared to death that his sons were gonna end up being slaves to a government. And he would be mad, I think, as hell over the watering down of the conservative movement. I think he would be stunned and shocked by it, he wouldn’t understand it, and he would be profoundly distressed by it, without question. Hang on a minute.
RUSH: Back to Doug in Charleston, South Carolina. My father, to answer your question, would be devastated by what has happened to the conservative movement. I think the thing that would perplex him the most is why so many brave and fearless conservatives in years gone by have become afraid to be conservative. That’s what he wouldn’t understand.
CALLER: (choppy connection) Mmm-hmm. It’s so problematic, and so many people of course are speaking up about it and, you know, not just from the standpoint of Republicans losing their conservative voice, but too many have lost their conservative values, and if they don’t espouse the conservative values, then certainly they can’t give voice to it. And for more than 25 years that’s what you’ve been doing, and that’s the consistency of it, and that’s what so many of us appreciate about what you do on the program. Part of the reason I was wanting to ask you this question, Rush, was because back in the early days of listening to your program — and I’ve been listening since ’91 — several times you recall the story of early on about the success of the program starting out and your dad asking you where you had learned the conservative principles that you were giving voice to.
CALLER: And you replied back to him, from my recollection of the story, that you had learned it from him. And I always thought that was such a touching tribute to him. But that’s why I was just curious to know or to get a feel from you, Rush, what he would think of the conservative movement now and especially where it’s gone these last 20 or 30 years. You know, you’ve always been a voice of conservatism. But you’ve also been a voice of optimism. And going forward, you know, where do you see the…?
RUSH: Well, I have —
CALLER: Where can we hang your hat with confidence?
RUSH: I haven’t lost my optimism, but I can’t specify it for you. I can’t do any more than tell you it is an overall feeling that I have, and it is a feeling. I’ve examined it and I’ve asked myself: “Am I just engaging in wishful thinking? Am I lying to myself? Am I lying to you ’cause I know that’s what you want to hear?” I’ve asked myself this. I’ve been very introspective about all this, and tried to be as honest with myself as I can. Now, we’re in the midst of an utter devastation taking place to this country right in front of us, right before our very eyes, and we are confronted every day with the apparent reality that a majority of the people who vote support it.
“A majority of the people who vote.”
That’s an important distinction. There are a lot of people who oppose what’s going on who did not bother to vote against it in November. They didn’t bother to vote, period, and we think we have the answers to why, but they’re not satisfying. They are merely explanatory. Those answers do not provide much comfort, either. All I can tell you is, I guess it’s rooted in a general undying faith in the founding of the country. I believe in it so much. I believe in the brilliance and the miraculous nature of the founding. Even though it’s very substantive and they were brilliant, the people who built this country and founded it, I also don’t believe it was an accident or coincidence, and I believe it was blessed.
I just think we’re better than this, and, at some point, more and more people are going to reach their saturation level. There’s no daily evidence of that or very little. There’s no evidence or very little evidence to support my optimism. All I can tell you is that I still believe it. Now, even with all of that, even if that turnaround does happen, it’s going to be a massive effort to roll back, say, for example, Obamacare. We’ve never rolled back an entitlement. We’ve never totally defunded or taken back, taken away an entitlement. It becomes an expectation. It becomes a demand. “Entitlement” has a specific definition.
So it’s gonna be very hard, but we’ve done it before. Woodrow Wilson. FDR. There have been events which occurred which essentially sufficed to cause a reversal in our direction. We survived FDR. We survived Woodrow Wilson. We have survived any number of similar-type politicians and their desires, and I think the cyclical nature of things is such that we will again. I don’t know when. I don’t know if it’s gonna be in my lifetime. I don’t pretend to understand how such a reversal is gonna take place. All I can tell you is — and I’m not saying just sit on your butt and let it happen, either.
It’s not gonna happen without effort. I do know that there are millions of people devoted to reversing what’s happening every day. They are working grassroots levels. They’re raising money. They’re doing their best to find decent candidates to run; they’re doing their best to elect ’em. There are just plenty of average people you’ve never heard of and never will, people who are not seeking fame. (Oh, that reminds me! There’s a great, great story in the Washington Post. It’s a giant See, I Told You So. Yep, right here it is. If I don’t get to this today, I’ve gotta do it tomorrow.) That’s the best I can tell you. It’s the most honest way I can answer your question about optimism.
I’m still laughing. I’m still smiling. I’m still having fun making fun of all this, while at the same time understanding how dangerously serious it is. Now, the story that you told about my father and so forth, let me give the correct version of that. The key to understanding it is, my dad thought for all of his life, until two years before he died or maybe a year before he died, that he was a failure as a parent because he couldn’t convince me to go to college. I hated school. I despised it! To this day, the thought of being in a classroom will send me into a cold sweat and panic. I hated it. It was prison. I didn’t want to be there.
I knew what I wanted to do when I was eight years old — and as far as I was concerned, there was nothing in a classroom that was going to teach me how to do what I wanted to do.
I was right about that, insofar as it went.
But my dad came out of the Great Depression, and if you didn’t have an education, you had no hope of getting a job, and you had no hope of becoming a vice president. You had no hope of becoming a vice president with a company car. You had no hope of earning $50,000 a year if you didn’t have a college degree. Now, my brother and everybody else in my family went to school, went into law, went into banking, whatever, but I didn’t. I’m out there playing records as a D.J. My dad was never happier than when I quit radio and went to work for the Kansas City Royals at $12,000 a year when I was 28. Finally I had a real job and a real company, with real people. He didn’t understand the people in radio, and he was right not to. He was never gonna understand ’em.
Anyway, I went back to radio, and he was devastated. Quit the baseball team, went back to radio, he was devastated. Oh, no ’cause if I’da just stuck with that for 30 years, I’da made $50,000, I’da had a company car. I mean, that’s the kind of thinking that you had when you lived through the Great Depression. But I didn’t like it. I learned in three years I wasn’t cut out for corporate conformity. It just wasn’t for me. So I went back to radio and the short version of the story is that he had difficulty hearing. He could not listen to the radio, it irritated him. So he never heard me on the radio. And he died before my television show started. But he did see me on Nightline one night when I was discussing the environment with Algore, the soon-to-be vice president of the United States.
There I am on Nightline, and he can’t believe it. I didn’t go to college. How in the world would somebody like Ted Koppel ask me to be on his show? I didn’t go to college. And to discuss this? So he watched the show. My mother’s telling me the story. And after the second commercial break, she said when they went to commercial for the third time in the show, my mother said that he hit the mute button and looked at her and was dumbfounded and said, “Millie, where did he learn all of this?” It was impossible for me to know this stuff. I didn’t go to college. All I was doing was playing Donny Osmond records.
And my mother told me that she looked at him and said, “From you, silly.” And he was totally taken aback by it. But it’s true. Growing up in our family, in our house was to be buried in politics and current events and all that every day. Not just at the dinner table, but every day, every morning. And I had friends of mine on Friday night in high school, instead of going out and trying to score a six-pack of Budweiser, would come over and they’d try to take turns getting my dad all riled up so he’d start pontificating for an hour without stopping and telling us how we’re all gonna be slaves and what all was going wrong and the problem with liberals and communists and the Democrats and so forth.
It was amazing. He was totally unaware of the impact that he had had. It’s why I’ve always said that the way you live your life and the people you come in contact with, you never know who you’re influencing. You never know who you are inspiring. You never know who you’re shaping. I mean, he had no clue. He thought that just ’cause I didn’t go to college, that old belief from the Depression, that I was destined to fail. He never stopped to consider whatever influence he might have had. He thought he’d failed at that. That’s why I say, be very trusting of what you believe, very confident about it. Don’t let anybody talk you out of it and when the stuff comes up, subject matter comes up, be confident about what you believe.
People very seldom will tell you to your face, “You know what, you’re really smart. You know what? You’ve changed my mind.” Nobody’s gonna admit to your face that they didn’t know something. You just have to take comfort in the fact that that will happen. You may never get the credit for it, but it’s undeniable that we all influence and inspire people in ways that we’ll never know.