Why Rush Limbaugh Should Matter to Young Conservatives

The first time I ever heard Rush Limbaugh’s name was probably when I was around 10 years old. My grandpa was ranting about politics over the phone when my mom asked him sarcastically, “And everyone is wrong except for Rush Limbaugh, right, dad?”

Growing up, my parents would normally describe him as a cooky conservative radio guy. We’d listen to him in the car from time to time, but whenever he came on, my dad would always say something to the effect of: “He’s a little too much for me.” Funny enough, I had no idea what Limbaugh’s face looked like, but I sure knew his voice.

Funny enough, I had no idea what Limbaugh’s face looked like, but I sure knew his voice.

That changed when I watched the 2020 State of the Union. After learning of Limbaugh’s Stage IV Cancer diagnosis, President Trump awarded him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. “In recognition of all that you have done for our nation,” Trump said, “the millions of people a day that you speak to and that you inspire, and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor.” As the First Lady put the medal over his shoulders, Republicans and conservatives in attendance cheered. To be completely honest, I didn’t get the hype. I wondered why Trump was giving the honor to some old dude on the radio.

It wasn’t until I saw the reactions from people who grew up listening to Limbaugh that I understood how important a figure he was. I realized that, without him, there would be no Fox News, no talk radio, no conservative podcast industry. I think not realizing this is a big reason why Gen-Zers don’t feel such a connection to him. Ironically, we’re not as endeared to Limbaugh because of how influential he was. We take for granted the conservative media infrastructure for which he paved the way, not knowing it exists because of him. Just as we red-pill on “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS” videos, generations before us had their first exposure to conservative thought through Limbaugh’s radio show.

Just as we red-pill on “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS” videos, generations before us had their first exposure to conservative thought through Limbaugh’s radio show.

The disconnect is relevant, but the main reason why many younger people have been turned off from Limbaugh is the fact that he has made some controversial remarks (to put it mildly). Some of them are truly awful. His “AIDS Updates” segment, where he mocked gay people who died of the aforementioned disease, is the most notable. Social media was ablaze with people on the Left shredding him for sins like this one. Unlike our parents, we did not grow up listening to Limbaugh, so many of us have formed our opinions of him based solely on the dearth of bad sayings we’re seeing in the wake of his passing.

The lesson that most people need to learn is that those we idolize and admire are not perfect. Anyone who has had a public career half as long as Limbaugh’s is bound to have said some regrettable things. I mentioned Ben Shapiro earlier. He himself has “a giant list of all the dumb stuff I’ve ever done” in which he explains and apologizes for controversial or even immoral statements he’s made in his career. Does any honest person believe that, when Shapiro dies, the Left will act with grace and dignity? Of course not. On that day, our children are going to see Leftists try to paint the man we respect as a white supremacist, just as they are doing now to Limbaugh. They reacted the same way when someone as classy as Antonin Scalia died. It doesn’t matter. If you butt up against the Leftist orthodoxy, you are scum, and they will treat you like it in your dying moments.

If you butt up against the Leftist orthodoxy, you are scum, and they will treat you like it in your dying moments.

So, let’s not allow Limbaugh’s haters to define his legacy. We are the future of the movement that he helped build up. We should honor him just as we do any other thinker we admire: emulate the good he did and learn from his mistakes. The true measure of a man is whether he outlives his legacy, or vice versa. With Limbaugh, we know it is the latter, but there are those who wish to tarnish the legacy he built. Unless we want the same to happen to us and those we love, we must not let them succeed.

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About Charles Hilu

Charles Hilu is a sophomore studying political science. Charles is also a student reporter for The College Fix, a daily publication which covers higher education. In addition to his writing, Charles serves as the secretary of Young Americans for Freedom at the University of Michigan.