Who is the current leader of the Republican Party? No one. But there certainly is someone who wields the most influence over people who agree with the Republican Party platform, and that is Rush Limbaugh .
How so? Because Limbaugh manages to do the three things any leader must do to be successful with a large group of people: he communicates direction, he earns trust, and he evokes desire in people to go in the direction he communicates. Those are the three fundamentals of leadership.
Direction is the essence of leadership. You can’t lead anyone anywhere if you don’t communicate a clear direction. Who in the Republican Party has been communicating clear direction—a direction that is consistent with the Republican ideals of limited government, fiscal restraint, and the protection of life, liberty and self-evident moral values? No one prominent comes to mind. Yet this has been Limbaugh’s consistent message for over twenty years.
The second fundamental of leadership is trust. Even if you communicate the right direction clearly, people will be reluctant to follow if they don’t trust you. Limbaugh has a vast audience that trusts him because he consistently asserts and explains conservative principles. Fewer people trust Republicans these days because about all most of them can be trusted to do is to defy those principles.
The platform declares that the party intends to “constrain the federal government.” Who in the party effectively communicates this and then follows through? With apologies to Senator Coburn, no one prominent. While President Bush thankfully accomplished his most important priority—keeping us safe—he and his fellow Republicans spent like Democrats for eight years. If you can’t trust Republicans to govern as Republicans, the only motivation to vote is negative—“they probably won’t be quite as bad as Democrats.” Is it any wonder why millions of conservatives stayed home in 2008?
Frank Turek is coauthor of I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, and the author of Stealing from God: Why atheists need God to make their case. See more of his work at CrossExamined.org.