I don’t normally struggle when writing a column. I just have thoughts in my head and type them out. This is different because I’ve never had to write a column about a friend who died, let alone a friend I’ve never met. But that’s who Rush Limbaugh was to me and millions more.
I never met Rush. I wish I had, and in the “six degrees of Kevin Bacon” world I was one degree away through four friends, but I never pressed the issue because it felt inappropriate to exploit a friendship for a fanboy moment.
Plus, I didn’t want to intrude. I knew Rush already. I’ve been a listener since I first heard him while I was driving around Michigan with my dad. I’ve taken more road trips with Rush than I have with friends I’ve known since high school. Rush went with me to job interviews, waiting in the car to distract me when I left disappointed. He was there throughout college, before and after classes and, more often than not, distracting me in those classes by what he said right before I went in. He, along with my cats, kept me company on my drive from Detroit to Washington, when I was terrified to move there for my first job after college.
Talk radio breeds that level of intimacy. When done well, that voice coming from your speakers is talking to only you, even when there are tens of millions of “yous” listening. And Rush did it better than anyone.
I never met him, but he helped shape who I am. Only my family had more of a hand in shaping how I think.
His show comes on right after mine. I say goodbye and wait to hear him.
I knew he wasn’t doing well. Because I’d known him for so long, there were a few reasons I suspected things had taken a turn for the worst. When I heard his wife’s voice at the start of Wednesday’s show, I immediately knew. Kathryn Limbaugh’s voice was so strong, I didn’t get emotional listening to her – I held it together because she was. Then the music started.
The opening bars of “My City Was Gone” got me. It was never a song, even though it is a great Pretenders song, it was always Rush Limbaugh’s theme. His voice was not going to be there when it was over, not live anyway. I was alone in my office and it hit me.
I’d heard that song one time on the business end of headphones, sitting in front of a microphone knowing everyone waiting for his voice would hear mine. I was lucky enough to fill-in for Rush once, the day after Thanksgiving last year. It was my greatest professional thrill, by a longshot. I heard from people I hadn’t heard from in years and many more I’ve never known. It was amazing how many people sent me notes from one show, a day on which most people aren’t working or, thanks to the pandemic, driving either. I didn’t give out my email address on the air, they just sought it out and contacted me. Old friends and complete strangers from places I’ve never been sent me really nice emails about what I talked about, asides and tangents I went off on, everything imaginable. Imagine that tens of millions of time over. That was Rush’s life.
When he died, the left did what they did while he was alive – they attacked him. For every glowing remembrance of him written, there were fifteen written from nothing but unadulterated hatred.
Normally, when someone famous passes I would consume as much of both as I could get my hands on. This time I didn’t want to see any of either. I didn’t want my thoughts polluted by someone else’s, and I didn’t want to get angry by the hate. My memories of Rush are mine. I didn’t need to be reminded of what I remember, nor did I really want to be inundated with bile while everything was so fresh.
As for the hate, what I saw on Twitter was enough. It was predictable and gross. It’s what the left is. Rush was perhaps the most lied about person in American history, with the possible exception of Ronald Reagan. People who never listened to him quoting hearsay written by people whose jobs it was to listen to him for the express purpose of destroying him. Imagine having that job. How worthless do you have to be to take a job trying to get someone else fired? They’re the original “Karens,” angry because their parents didn’t love them or they’ve never kissed a girl.
Whatever it was, Rush not only created the industry he dominated, he dominated an industry he inspired the creation of: left-wing hall monitors hell-bent on ruining anyone who disagrees with them politically. They had to lie about him to do their jobs, and they failed.
They hated him because they could never beat him. Not many people can say they changed the world, and fewer still can say they changed it for the better. Rush can. They can’t. They can’t say they mattered because they didn’t. They spent their lives screaming into an echo chamber of people who never listened about how Rush drove division in the country.
Rush did not “divide the nation.” He finally gave a voice to the half of the nation the left-wing establishment class loved to ignore and told to shut up anytime we spoke. That’s why they hated him so much. We weren’t supposed to have a voice. We were supposed to know our place.
Rush Limbaugh stood up to them for us and suffered the attacks anyone who challenges the established order suffers. He did it with a smile and a laugh, always a laugh. He was damn funny, and quick. Liberals couldn’t catch him, they couldn’t understand him, and they couldn’t keep up. Rush won. And because Rush won, we all won.
Rush may be gone, but Rush Limbaugh is still with us, with all of us. His voice resonates in ours the way ours will hopefully resonate in that of those who come after us. While we likely won’t have that impact on tens of millions of people like he did, if tens of millions of us have that impact on one or two people we’ll keep not only his legacy alive, we’ll win too. Thanks for everything, Rush. Well done, sir.
Derek Hunter is the host of a free daily podcast (subscribe!), host of a daily radio show on WCBM in Maryland, and author of the book, Outrage, INC., which exposes how liberals use fear and hatred to manipulate the masses. Follow him on Twitter at @DerekAHunter.