Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Rocks CPAC and Emerges as a Leader of Conservative Movement, but not the Party.

CPAC attendees started lining up 2 hours before Rush Limbaugh was to give the keynote speech at the convention. Within half an hour the line stretched all the way through the Omni Shoreham hotel and out into the street. Rush was in such demand crowds were placed into two large over-flow rooms with giant projector screens and some were even turned away. It was by far the largest audience ever for a speaker at CPAC shattering the record audiences set by Ronald Reagan.

As Limbaugh was introduced the room instantly sprung alive and filled with energy. In fact it was so energetic, Limbaugh was scheduled to speak for half an hour; but convention organizers told him to keep going. He ended up speaking for an hour and a half, and it was the re-awakening of a sleeping giant that is ready to rumble. It is American Conservatism, and I was thrilled to be there to see it, witness it and be a part of it.

Two things I want to harp on from the speech. Limbaugh discussed and defined conservatism in the words I have been searching for, but could never quite find.

Limbaugh told the crowd most Americans think they know what conservatism, but they know it the way it is packaged by the media and Hollywood in movies and such. We conservative know what conservatism is, but we make the mistake and assume everyone else does too. We need to do a better job of telling people who we are.

Limbaugh: “Let me tell you who we conservatives are: We love people. (applause) When we look out over the United States of America, when we are anywhere -- when we see a group of people, such as this or anywhere -- we see Americans. We see human beings. We don't see groups. We don't see victims. We don't see people we want to exploit. What we see -- (applause) what we see is potential. We do not look out across the country and see the average American -- the person that makes this country work -- we do not see that person with contempt. We don't think that person doesn't have what it takes. We believe that person can be the best he or she wants to be if certain things are just removed from their path like onerous taxes, regulations and too much government. (applause)
We want every American to be the best he or she chooses to be. We recognize that we are all individuals. We love and revere our founding documents, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. (applause) We believe that the preamble to the Constitution [sic] contains an inarguable truth that we are all endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them life, (applause) liberty, freedom, (applause) and the pursuit of happiness. (applause) Now, those of you watching at home may wonder why this is being applauded….. We conservatives think all three are under assault.”
Yes, Limbaugh misspoke, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are from the Declaration of Independence not the constitution, but that is not the point. Limbaugh is exactly right; these things are under assault straight from DC. Never in our history has there been an attack on our way of life so strong from within, but let’s also make one thing clear. The attack has not been limited to the current political party in power.

Republicans have done a nice job of growing government and destroying individual freedom as well.

Limbaugh addresses some of the Party’s problems as well, stuff I have been saying for years.

”Now let’s talk about the conservative movement as it were. We, ladies and gentlemen, have challenges that are part and parcel of a movement that feels it has just suffered a humiliating defeat when it’s not humiliating. This wasn’t a landslide victory, 52 to, what, 46. 58 million people voted against Obama. There would have been more if we would have had a conservative nominee. [Applause] I don’t mean that — I mean that in an instructive way, as a lead-in to what I’m talking about here. No humiliating defeat here. I can’t — sometimes I get livid and angry.
We do have an organizational problem. We have a challenge. We’ve got factions now within our own movement seeking power to dominate it, and worst of all to redefine it. Well, the Constitution doesn’t need to be redefined. Conservative intellectuals, the Declaration of Independence does not need to be redefined and neither does conservativism. Conservativism is what it is and it is forever. It’s not something you can bend and shape and flake and form. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

For the purposes of this occasion, I’m not going to mention any names, I bet with you I won’t have to. People watching my first address to the nation might be curious what I’m talking about. They’ll find out in due course, trust me on this. I cringed — it might have been 2007, late 2007 or sometime during 2008, but a couple of prominent conservative but beltway establishment media types began to write on the concept that the era of Reagan is over. [Crowd Booing]
And that we needed to adapt our appeal, because, after all, what’s important in politics is winning elections.
And so we have to understand that the American people, they want big government. We just have to find a way to tell them we’re no longer opposed to that. We will come up with our own version of it that is wiser and smarter, but we’ve got to go get the WalMart voter, and we’ve got to get the Hispanic voter, and we’ve got to get the recalcitrant independent women. And I’m listening to this and I am just apoplectic: The era of Reagan is over? When the hell do you hear a Democrat say the era of FDR is over? You never hear it. Not only that, the President of the United States today thinks he’s FDR, thinks he’s Abraham Lincoln, and sometimes, Tuesday night, thinks he’s Ronald Reagan. Our own movement has members trying to throw Reagan out while the Democrats know they can’t accomplish what they want unless they appeal to Reagan voters. We have got to stamp this out within this movement, because it will tear us apart. It will guarantee we lose elections.” [Applause]

What Limbaugh is describing is a lack of leadership. There is a lack of leadership in the Republican Party across the board, from the Republican National Committee, the Senate and the House. The leadership to stand up on conservative principles and stand up to the opposition, not trying to compromise or reach out has been missing from the party for a long time.

Millions of conservatives and republicans are sitting on the sidelines waiting to be led, but they won’t have anything to do with the RNC. When the RNC calls them for donations they get hung up on. They are sick of the opportunist elitists who can’t see past the DC beltway that have hijacked the Republican Party. The RNC is so far out of touch with whom their base is. They think they can win elections by selling big government better, by ignoring the base and appealing to moderates and independents. We all saw how well that worked out in the midterm election and the presidential election with John McCain.
It seems Limbaugh is the only one on the national level that realizes this, or is the only one with the guts to address it. Limbaugh may have emerged as one of the leaders of the conservative movement, and has sparked the real leaders of the movement, us, but he is not the leader of the Party. It will have to be the grass roots of this movement that will lead the elitist of the RNC back to the party’s core principles and values.

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