Conservative Talk Radio Isnâ€™t Dead
By: Guest Authors
By: John Bender
The Republican establishment and the mainstream media are all aflutter having managed to nominate John McCain to be the Republican Partyâ€™s offering for President in November. They are beside themselves with joy over the situation.
Most of their glee, at least among the party establishment, is because McCain is not a conservative in the traditional sense of the word and most of the time doesnâ€™t claim to be. Oh sure, he now claims heâ€™s a conservative, but almost nobody believes it. Certainly nobody believes it who paid any attention to his record over the past 10 years or so.
Among the dinosaur media, the joy is not just at having a left-moderate, or what we used to call a Rockefeller Republican, at the top of the Republican ticket. They are also ecstatic because conservative talk radio hosts were against the party making this terrible blunder and said so. The media whores see it as the beginning of the end for talk radio that has all but eliminated their ability to slant and spin the news.
The old dinosaur media and their pseudo-conservative counterparts in talk radio are all trumpeting the end of conservative talkâ€™s influence on the electorate. They see it as a step back to their dominance and some revenge for the vast audience and influence conservatives like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Mark Levin, Laura Ingraham, and Sean Hannity have enjoyed for about 20 years.
Of course, as with most of what passes for news from these people, they are only partially right, and distorting the facts.
Yes, the people voted for McCain in greater numbers than they did for the conservative talkersâ€™ consensus candidate, Mitt Romney. But, the vote was split between three people. Mike Huckabee, who almost nobody knew eight months ago, and who was considered pretty much a joke, who ran as a conservative, and fooled enough uninformed, gullible, people into believing it to collect a lot of votes from people who couldnâ€™t vote for a left/moderate like McCain.
It didnâ€™t help that Romneyâ€™s political history was less than inspiring, having held some very liberal positions in the past, but who was saying all the right things now. He was viewed suspiciously as a flip flopper who conservatives werenâ€™t sure they could trust now.
Still, many voters trusted the conservative talkers enough to believe that Romney was real to turn out and vote for him. When his votes are combined with the Huckabee votes, more people voted for people they thought were more conservative than McCain.
The story is; the voters were looking for a conservative to vote for and split their vote leaving McCain with the remainder. It wasnâ€™t a move to the left. It was rather a divided choice and more people tried to vote for a conservative than tried to vote for the more liberal McCain.
Now, the real story here is why this happened.
Conservative talk hosts made their mark by being brutally honest and people trusted them. But, they squandered that trust backing flawed politicians and making excuses for them when they advanced a liberal agenda. This was especially the case as they supported George (The Younger) Bush as he moved the country to the left.
By no calculation is Bush a conservative. Heâ€™s conservative on a few points, but a big government, big spending, liberal on far too many issues. Taken as a whole, heâ€™s closer to Ford or Nixon than he is to Ronald Reagan or Barry Goldwater.
Yet, for eight years, the talkers told us what a great conservative he was and justified his massive spending, huge expansion of the government, and his Nixon like abuses of power. Rush, Ingraham, and Hannity kept telling their listeners that Bush was just taking issues away from the Democrats. They never mentioned that the big government Democrats were getting 70 or 75% of their agenda passed because Bush â€œtook the issue awayâ€.
For most of the eight years Rush seemed almost embarrassed when defending Bush and seemed to almost choke sometimes when calling him a conservative. Hannity had no such problem. He was in the tank for Bush up to his eyebrows and that was just the way it was. The other talkers were in the tank too, to various degrees.
Instead of fighting Bush on things like his vast expansion of the government, disastrous spending, and liberal programs, they gave him cover and gave cover to the Congress who happily went along. It was only on a couple of the really bad Bush acts that they fought at all.
Had Bill Clinton tried to pass No Child Left Behind, the Bush-Care prescription drug plan, the first Bush farm bill or any number of his other leftist initiatives, the talkers would have been fighting, marshaling the troops to call, write and demand that Congress stop the bill. Instead they mentioned that it was a bad idea but made excuses for Bush and passage.
The talkers told conservatives Bush was just taking the issue away from the liberals. Of course, they never mentioned that he was giving the liberals most of their agenda and was more successful at it than Bill Clinton.
This had the effect of moving the Congress and the country sharply leftward. It also undermined any chance of a conservative to move into a prominent position in the nationâ€™s eye. No conservative could fight his own party and talk radio too. It was this lack of fighting for core conservative principles by the very people who are supposed to be in the forefront of these fights that left the field open to the sorry group of contestants we ended up having to choose from.
Nor did it help that Hannity and several others immediately went into the tank for Rudy Giuliani, the most liberal, most corrupt, slime ball in the Republican field. That made it hard for conservatives to believe them when they came out in support of Romney who has no history of corruption, and was saying all the right things, but who has a record almost as liberal as Giulianiâ€™s.
But, Rush is back. Heâ€™s once again pushing conservative principles and standing up to the liberal Republican establishment that controls the party. He and Mark Levin are pointing out that the Republicans in Congress will fight for conservative principles when they are opposing a Democrat president. Over the past eight years theyâ€™ve refused to stand up to a liberal Republican president except on three key issues where the president was so far out of line the talkers and the public rose up and forced Congress to oppose him.
Both men, as well as a few other conservatives, are talking about the need for electing conservatives to congress to fight McCain should he beat the Democrat liberal in November. Rush sounds like the old Rush, the Rush we loved and trusted before he went over to the dark side after sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom.
This is sound advice, but the talkers are going to have to lead on this. They are going to have to help marshal the troops to vote for conservatives down ticket and are going to have to lead in the fight against expanding government, new or expanded entitlements, more intrusive government, and attacks on the Bill of Rights.
They have to get back to helping us fight the big government forces in both parties and help us give the conservative majority someone to vote for instead of someone to vote against. Politicians will rise to fill the void if the talkers and the people stand up and demand it.
Thereâ€™s another Reagan or Goldwater out there who just has to be encouraged to come to the fore. The talkers and the small government, conservative, majority just have to make it possible for conservative elected officials to fight the establishment.
The talkers havenâ€™t lost their influence. They just abdicated their responsibility for the past eight years. Theyâ€™ve come back now. If they stay on message, they will help turn this sad mess into a positive for the country.
John Bender is a freelance writer living in Dallas.