Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Fascism of Rush Limbaugh

Fascism is such an ugly word. I even hesitate to use it because it is so misunderstood. Fascism is used as an epithet so frequently, one might be justified in thinking that the proper definition of “fascism” is “describing someone with whom I disagree.”

Many thought National Review Online editor and smear artist in residence, Jonah Goldberg was going to educate people about fascism in his 2008 book, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning.

In fact, Mr. Goldberg merely found heroes of 21st century liberals who had sympathies in the early 20th century with nascent fascist movements in the U.S. and Europe. He faintly connected the two as if to say, “Well, even though liberals always demonize conservatives as fascists, it’s actually liberals who have more a more fascistic intellectual heritage.“ In the end, Mr. Goldberg’s book never defined “fascism,” but he proceeded to use the word as a club against people to his right. “Fascism” was once again being used to define someone with whom, in this case, Jonah Goldberg, disagrees. Another dud in the great fascism-defining-game.

At its most basic level, “fascism” merely means the ultimate subordination of everything in the lives of citizens to an authoritarian state.

Nazi Germany was not fascistic because we fought a war against them. It was fascistic because the needs of the people were secondary to the needs of the regime. The government did not give people jobs in order to save them from starving or to help pull up a people devastated by economic depression and national humiliation. They gave people jobs to serve the infrastructure of the centralized state, as Hitler’s well-known public works campaign accomplished.

So there is an actual definition of fascism after all. Unfortunately, there are times when “fascism” is the correct word to use to describe an opponent. Even more saddening is that, despite all of my frustration at liberals who wield the word as a political club, today there are mainstream conservatives who deserve the epithet.

On February 11 of this year, Rush Limbaugh began his program by decrying those dirty Democrats for their horrible stimulus bill, their ballooning of the government, and their terrible foreign policy. I don’t know if Mr. Limbaugh is aware of this, but everything he moaned about was also committed by his Republican heroes.

Reading the transcript from the day in question, Mr. Limbaugh, in not so many words, announces that he is actually okay with a big, intrusive government that tramples on liberties and personal freedom, as long as Republicans get to use most of its power.

He said he wanted to take the mechanisms of the huge government the Democrats are building up so that when Republicans return to power they could turn it against them. Talk about your endorsements for big government!

That is what fascists do. They use the mechanisms of the government to prosecute political enemies. Hitler did it. Mussolini did it. The Communists do it. Conservatives who concern themselves with issues of liberty, do not do it.

Take another example, during some of the most contentious days of the Bush administration, Rush Limbaugh had the audacity to insinuate that the Democrats hate this government. They certainly hated the now-departed occupant of the White House, but what rational person believes that Democrats, the official big government party, actually hates government? What they hated most about the Bush years was that they were in the minority for most of them.

What Rush Limbaugh actually hated was that Democrats were speaking ill of the president. I cannot say if el Rushbo actually wanted to see the reintroduction of the Sedition Act of 1798 that made it a crime to criticize the president, but he did speak of the Democrats with such vigor that the entire party in question must have been guilty of treason.

Mr. Limbaugh simply babbled on and on about how the liberals just hate the country, all the while he continues to defend the record of George W. Bush.

One would actually think that if Rush Limbaugh looked critically at the Bush presidency, he could only conclude that a liberal had just departed office.

George W. Bush presided over the largest increase of the federal government to date. Liberals traditionally increase the government. He had an open borders immigration policy that, for a number of reasons, has only hurt Republicans. He signed the massive prescription drug plan that came directly out of LBJ’s Great Society playbook. He adopted an aggressive and reckless foreign policy, whose origin can be traced to Woodrow Wilson, the man who decided it was okay to sacrifice young Americans not for legitimate external threats, but to “make the world safe for democracy.”

There was practically nothing conservative in the past eight years. It looks to continue.

The era of George W. Bush and his orgiastic growth of the federal government led his conservative followers to worship it and consider the government to be beyond question. No one could question the actions of the Bush-led regime without being assaulted as unpatriotic or treasonous. To conservatives from 2001 to 2009, the Republican-led government was the meaning of their existence. While people like Rush Limbaugh did not craft this disastrous agenda, they did give it support for the crucial party base.

Under George W. Bush’s watch, the government became more intrusive in all of our lives. The Patriot Act validated the belief of those who were called “kooks” and “whackos” that we do indeed live in a surveillance state. Records became public, privacy became nonexistent, and liberties were curtailed. American conservatives were supposed to believe in fundamental freedom, but for eight years, they defined “freedom” as whatever the government does.

There is your fascism.

All of this spells out exactly what is wrong with the “conservative movement” in this leaderless era of the Republican Party. Whereas conservatism once stood for the supremacy of the individual, the only coherent point conservatives can really make today is that they are against the Democrats. Big government is evil when it is orchestrated by the Democrats but it is used for noble purposes by the Republican Party, they imply.

Considering these examples, one might conclude that Rush Limbaugh is not a genuine American conservative, but a fascist. He does not believe government is the answer to problems, of course unless Republicans get to be at the helm.

February 11, 2009 was a date of utter betrayal. It was a day when the unofficial conservative spokesman let the whole world know that he is perfectly comfortable with big government. His only problem centers around who pulls its strings.

Stop the charade, Rush. You are no conservative.


Steel Phoenix said...

Well said.
Bush and the neocons aren't Republicans in the traditional sense, they are evangelical corporatist centrists. If Fascism lives in our country it is squarely in their domain. If you go left, you lose the nationalism, if you go right, you lose the authoritarianism.

Rush is a pox on the nation. Every time I talk to my dad, I have to remove layers of brainwashing applied by that porcine windbag.

Carl Wicklander said...

I know how you feel. I was practically weaned on Rush. I was in college before I realized what he had become. I still listen to him on occasion but I really do feel myself getting dumber. He made conservatism mean being anti-Democrats and nothing else. And that made his fascism possible.

I have long maintained that Rush does not direct any of the GOP agenda, but he gives it legitimacy to his listeners. I believe that is the reason why so many are still deluded into believing that neocons are Republicans in the traditional sense. He is considered the spokesman for the party and the conservative movement. That's why being pro-war and pro-big government can now be considered conservative.

I suspect Rush really was conservative in his younger days but changed once he got a foot in the door of the party establishment. Sad.

TRUTH 101 said...

I've said all along that celebrity drives politics. Rush is the biggest celebrity Republicans have. In testament to how low the Republicans have sunk, two of thier biggest celebrities are Joe the Plumber and Sarah Palin. I miss watching Patrick Buchannon debate on Hardball. The guy knew his stuff. Now all the right wing talking heads do is call the other side names and rerpeat tired nonsense about low taxes and less regulation.

Rush is not smart or gifted in any way. Nor is Neil Bortz ar any of the others. It doesn't take talent or intelligence to sit behind a microphone or keyboard and call people despicable things like fascist. It's too bad the Party of Lincoln has sunk so low that it's face is that of Rush Limbaugh.

Carl Wicklander said...

Truth101, you can see on my other comment that I was basically another dittohead until college. That was when I read Pat Buchanan for the first time and discovered that there was more to conservatism than whatever Rush Limbaugh said, not to mention that it was possible, even reasonable for a conservative to be antiwar.

I don't like to call people fascist, because most people don't seem to know its meaning and it just becomes a weapon of verbal abuse, but there are times when it is appropriate. What Rush has come to advocate can, at least occasionally, be called fascism.

I argue that Rush Limbaugh does not have a conservative message anymore. His party-stumping has descended into something that is embarrassing. And I would not consider it to be good news if he is in fact the de facto head of the GOP.

And you can probably notice that I do have a picture of Pat Buchanan on my blog and not Rush Limbaugh.

bielie said...

We're gonna come after the left's favorite corporations. We're going to come after your favorite political constituents. We're going to come after your favorite media outlets. You want to try the Fairness Doctrine? Fine. We'll impose it on network television. We'll impose it on newspapers. You want to try censorship? Fine! We will censor you when we get the control of the government back. We will reapportion districts using the Census to help conservatives. We're going to turn the power of government against the Democrats and the left and weaken and you break you into little pieces. Because, my friends, the day has passed when we can become passive and be passive about what they are doing. We will use the political and the legal system as they have and are, and we will use it to promote our party and to diminish theirs. We will use the power of government and legal system to promote our movement and our agenda, just as they are.

You just demonstrate your inability to spot irony when it spits you in the face and bites you in the butt...

*SIGH* They should make a law that only people with an IQ of over 90 may listen to talk radio.