Why Liberals Fear Me

COMMENTARY Conservatism

Why Liberals Fear Me

Feb 18, 2021 24 min read

American Radio Personality

Photo Credit: The Heritage Foundation

The following article was written by Rush Limbaugh for the fall 1994 edition of Policy Review, a publication of The Heritage Foundation. Heritage honored Limbaugh with its Titan of Conservatism Award in 2020 and mourned his death on Feb. 17, 2021.

There are times in one’s life that despite all the blood, toil, tears, and sweat expended in the pursuit of excellence, one really should lean back, light up a good cigar, take a sip of an adult beverage, and just savor the moment. My friends, this is one of those times.

Thirty years after the inauguration of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society; 25 years after Woodstock; two decades after Richard Nixon’s resignation; and two years after Democrats secured control of the White House and both chambers of Congress, modern liberalism—exhausted and confused—is on the run. Three decades after Ronald Reagan’s brilliant enunciation of conservative ideals at the end of the 1964 campaign, he told me “Now that I’ve retired from active politics, I don’t mind that you’ve become the number-one voice for conservatism in our country.” And liberal fear is palpable.

Target Numero Uno

Thus came the sizzling summer onslaught against me. “He’s a showman, a showoff, and a jerk,” wrote one pundit. “Chief propagandist for the revolution,” said another. “A self-serving, hate-mongering liar,” railed one writer. “A tool-shed-sized hate monger,” said another. “Rush Limbaugh’s ideology makes him a political dinosaur, which puts him on the endangered species list,” wrote one critic.” Judge for yourself about that slabhead, Rush Limbaugh,” said another.

The assault came from every corner of liberalism—from the White House and the Washington Post, from the New York Times and the New Yorker, from the Nation and the New Republic, from Time magazine and the Los Angeles Times, from C-Span and CNN, from U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, and from National Public Radio, the National Organization for Women, and the National Education Association (I’m leaving many out, but you get the picture). In the month that followed President Clinton’s June attack on me, I was mentioned in 1,450 stories, including the South China Morning Post and Agence France Presse, as tracked by a media data base service.

Liberals have, in fact, elevated me to the role of leading political figure. Target Numero Uno. It is a role I have never sought. My goal has always been to host the most­listened-to radio and television shows in history and, in turn, charge confiscatory advertising rates. But as it happens, not only am I a performer, I am also effectively communicating a body of beliefs that strikes terror into the heart of even the most well-entrenched liberals, shaking them to their core.

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The interesting question is, Why? Why do liberals fear me? I am not a distinguished member of Congress. I am not running for President. I do not control billions of dollars in taxpayer money. I can enact no policy, law, or regulation to affect a single American citizen’s behavior. So why the high level of liberal emotion? This would seem to me to be a legitimate area of inquiry to be pursued by members of the mainstream media—but their own animus has prevented them from solid analysis of this phenomenon. Yet again, I must do their job for them.

First, liberals fear me because I threaten their control of the debate. These are the facts: Twenty million people a week listen to my radio program on 659 stations nationwide, on short wave and Armed Forces Radio worldwide, while several million more watch my television show on 250 stations nationally. I am on the air 17-and-a-half hours a week. Add to that 6 million copies sold of my two books, The Way Things Ought To Be and See, I Told You So, and 475,000 monthly subscribers to The Limbaugh Letter after just two years in business.

What I do in this rather large oeuvre (a little literary lingo, there) is hard for pundits to peg. Media sages have not to this point been confronted with a conservative who is both commentator and entertainer. A conservative who trafficks in satire, of all things—mostly liberal turf until now. A conservative who dares poke fun at liberal sacred cows, and who does so with relish, optimism, and good cheer. A conservative whose expression of core beliefs is unabashed, unapologetic, unembarrassed—and who has the best bumper music on the air.

How do I attract so many people? First, I approach my audience with enormous respect. I am absolutely convinced that the country contains vast numbers of intelligent, engaged citizens who are hungry for information and inspiration. These are people who play by the rules, who are working hard to raise their families, to strengthen their communities, to do the right thing-and to enthusiastically enjoy life in the process. They are proud to be counted among those who believe in God, American ideals, morality, individual excellence, and personal responsibility.

These are the people who are constantly told: ‘‘You are the problem. You aren’t compassionate enough, you don’t pay enough taxes, your selfishness and greed (which is how the desire to look after one’s own family and improve one’s lot in life is always defined) are destroying the country.” These are the people whose most heartfelt convictions have been dismissed, scorned, and made fun of by the mainstream media. I do not make fun of them. I confirm their instincts, with evidence taken directly from pages of the daily papers and from television news programs. I explain what is actually in legislation. I quote what our esteemed members of Congress and the mainstream media actually say. I detail and analyze news stories (many of which don’t get national play except on my programs) that demonstrate the absurdity of liberal policies.

‘I Am Equal Time’

I have not attracted and kept my audience by being a blowhard, a racist, a sexist, a hatemonger. Those who make such charges insult the intelligence of the American people. If l were truly what my critics claim, I would have long ago, deservedly, gone into oblivion. The fact is, my audience knows I constantly champion rugged individualism. One of the most oft-heard phrases on my shows is this: “I want a great America made up of great individuals, an America where everyone is unshackled to be the best he can be.” This is the philosophy that sends liberals into fits—because they know a country made of strong, self-reliant individuals does not need them at all.

My tools are not “right-wing demagoguery,” as is so often charged. My tools are evidence, data, and statistics. Economic analysis. Cultural criticism. Political comment. I demonstrate. I illustrate. I provide my audience with information that the mainstream media refuses to disseminate. And I do so in an entertaining, enjoyable way. That is why I always say my views and commentary don’t need to be balanced by equal time. I am equal time. And the free market has proved my contention.

Despite claims from my de tr actors that my audience is comprised of mind-numbed robots, waiting for me to give them some sort of marching orders, the fact is that I am merely enunciating opinions and analysis that support what they already know. Thousands of listeners have told me, on the air, in faxes, letters, and by computer e-mail, that I agree with them. Finally, they say, somebody in the media is saying out loud what they have believed all along. 

This hard evidence that huge numbers of ordinary Americans have privately rejected the tenets of Liberalism is a genuine threat to the decades-long liberal dominance of American institutions. Conservatives—who have been shut out of the debate in the arena of ideas for a generation—are finally understanding the stunning truth that they are not alone. The marginalization of conservative ideas, a successful liberal tactic for 30 years, is over. Most Americans are, in fact, conservative. They may not always vote that way, but they live their lives that way. This fact has been successfully hidden from the population. Until now.

Don’t Ignore Him

Beyond mere jealousy that their territory has been horned-in on, the political and cultural significance of this phenomenon has finally begun to dawn on liberals. One of the first signs of panic occurred back in the Outlook section of the Washington Post last February. In “Day of the Dittohead,” David Remnick opined: “Nearly all the hype about Limbaugh winds up on the entertainment pages. And yet there is very little in the press to suggest that he is, above all, a sophisticated propagandist, an avatar of the politics of meanness and envy. Limbaugh’s influence is hard to gauge,” Remnick continued. “But attention must be paid...the left-wing media and the ‘arts and croissants crowd,’ as Limbaugh puts it, ignore him at their peril.”

President Clinton picked up this fretful refrain in Atlanta on May 3, amidst sagging poll numbers and embarrassing headlines ranging from Whitewater to Paula Jones. “You [have] got to understand in the rural South where you’ve got Rush Limbaugh and all this right-wing extremist media just pouring venom at us every day and nothing to counter that, we need an election to get the facts out,” claimed the president on CNN. A few weeks later, the president was back on the warpath during an interview aboard Air Force One with St. Louis radio station KMOX. “The Republicans and the far right in this country have their own media networks. We don’t have anything like that. They have extra organized political action groups that we can’t match, and they have the Republican Party’s fund-raising apparatus, which has been strengthened by having had the White House for all but four in the [past] 20 years.” (For the record, Bill Clinton had spoken at a $3.5 million Democratic fundraiser 36 hours before. But I digress.)

“I think there is too much cynicism and too much intolerance ... look at how much of talk radio is a constant, unremitting drumbeat of negativism and cynicism,” the president continued, explaining that he was newly determined “to be aggressive.” He then added, “After I get off the radio with you today, Rush Limbaugh will have three hours to say whatever he wants, and I won’t have any opportunity to respond, and there’s no truth detector. You won’t get on afterward and say [what] was true and what wasn’t.”

The pundits didn’t quite know what to make of that. Yes, they agreed, Rush Limbaugh is a blemish on the American political landscape. Still, the president’s performance was odd. The response of the New York Times editorial page was blistering: “Whining and public self­pity are not presidential-scale attributes.” The Washington Post’s Mary McCrory concurred: “His remarks were soggy with self-pity.... Self-pity is exhaustion‘s little sister and follows her everywhere. Clinton should read what was said about our most saintly president, Abraham Lincoln, and stop whining.” Even London’s Sunday Telegraph could not resist commenting: ‘To get into a barnyard scrap with right-wing talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh does little for the dignity of the Oval Office.”

Reign of Error?

The president’s tirade on KMOX occurred on June 24. On June 28, a left-wing media attack dog group released a “report” entitled Limbaugh’s “Reign of Error.” “From AIDS to ozone, from Whitewater to the Bible, Limbaugh seems to be able to dissemble and deceive on virtually any subject,” read the press release issued by the misnamed Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) and picked up by the Associated Press.

According to FAIR, I am guilty of 43 instances of “sloppiness, ignorance, or fabrication.” The National Review recently came to my defense: “Considering that Mr. Limbaugh has logged over 4,000 hours on the air, 43 mistakes would be a pretty good record: how does FAIR’s record compare?” But members of the mainstream media, looking for a way to justify their animosity toward me and slavishly devoted to the agenda if not the person of Bill Clinton, could not resist FAIR’s seduction.

One charge spread like wildfire because it seemed to best illustrate the premise that I invent stories with abandon and lie about my sources. In January of this year, I mentioned on my radio show a report that the private school that Chelsea Clinton attends had assigned its 8th graders to write a paper on “Why I Feel Guilty Being White.” I cited CBS as my source. FAIR’s report implied that I made this up out of whole cloth. In an advertisement on the New York Times editorial page, FAIR claimed this was an example of a “groundless assertion.” Ellen Hume, on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” had a field day. “I don’t respect someone who is clearly telling myths and pretending that he’s got facts behind him. Occasionally [Limbaugh will] do something like say that the Sidwell Friends School had some test for Chelsea—some essay Chelsea Clinton had to write about why I don’t like being white, or why I’m embarrassed to be white, and then he cites a source like CBS News. That simply isn’t true. None of that was true. So where is this coming from...and where do you draw the line at a mistake, which we all make, and a deliberate distortion of the fact to pander to myths that people wish were true?”

I did not fabricate this story, as I explained in a column in USA Today. CBS Morning Resource, a wire service for radio talk show hosts run by the CBS Radio Network, reported the story on January 6, 1994. An Ohio radio station brought the CBS wire story to my attention. Playboy magazine and Heterodoxy magazine had both already published the story, and in fact were the sources of the CBS wire story. Sidwell later denied that the incident occurred, and I accepted its word and said so on my radio program. But I refused to accept FAIR’s suggestion that I made up the story or lied about CBS as its source.

The following week on “Reliable Sources,” Ellen Hume admitted her mistake. “In deference to Rush, I would like to make a clarification, which is that there was a story that he put out on the radio, that Chelsea Clinton had to write some essay about how she hates being white. This was not a true story. Rush, as far as I know, never apologized for broadcasting it, but he did say he got it from CBS. It turns out that the bad guy here was CBS, not Rush. They had a tip sheet that actually put the story out, so I say, Rush, you’re off the hook on that one.” [emphasis mine].

The media makes mistakes about me all the time. One columnist claimed I call Hillary Rodham Clinton a feminazi. I do no such thing. Another said I blame the falling dollar on welfare and feminazis. I never have. Still another pundit claimed my radio show is carried on more than 1,400 stations. Not yet true, but inevitable. What is undeniable is that my critics—from the president to his left-wing political allies and devotees in the mainstream media—are quick to judge what I say as outrageous, fabricated, and deceptive because I am effective, and they are panic-stricken by my ability to challenge the current terms of political debate.

The second reason liberals fear me is that I represent middle America’s growing rejection of the elites. Americans are increasingly convinced they have been deceived by the so-called “professionals” and “experts”—particularly, but not exclusively, in the media. Seeing themselves as sacrosanct, the self-important media elite have adopted a religious zeal toward their business—which they actually consider a “mission.” I pointed this out in my first book, but the situation has gotten both worse and more transparent. The Washington Post’s advertising campaign for new subscribers states bluntly, “If you don’t get it, you don’t get it.” Fortunately, most Americans don’t get it. Meanwhile, the New York Times Magazine promotes itself as ‘‘What Sunday Was Created For,” which might amuse the Creator, whom, I suspect, had something very different in mind when He did the creating. But that’s just it. What you have here is the arrogance of power. And that is why so many people are looking elsewhere, and increasingly to me.

Of course, it is not just the media elites that Americans are rejecting. It is the medical elites, the sociology elites, the education elites, the legal elites, the science elites—the list goes on and on—and the ideas this bunch promotes through the media. Americans have been told our health care lags behind the rest of the industrialized world; it doesn’t. They were told drugs are safe; they aren’t. They were told free sex is liberating; it isn’t. They were told massive welfare spending would help people get back on their feet; it hasn’t. They were told that without government intervention on behalf of environmentalist wackos, the world would come to an end; it won’t. They were told that religious people are dangerous to the country; they aren’t.

An assistant managing editor for one regional newspaper actually wrote, “I despise the Rush Limbaugh show,” throwing the pretense of journalistic objectivity to the winds. Most aren’t so explicit, but their work reeks with animosity for my audience and me. The FAIR report, in fact, is interesting precisely because it is far more an elitist attack on my core beliefs than a critique of my accuracy. FAIR was launched in 1987 with seed money from the New World Foundation, whose chairman that year was none other than Hillary Rodham Clinton. Its board of advisers include some of America’s best-known leftists and feminists, from Ed Asner to Gloria Steinem. Its mission is to expose right-wing bias in the media. That’s right—I’m not making this up-right—wing bias: The group attacked the ABC mini-series “Amerika” for being too harsh on communists.

Hook, Line, & Sinker

Along the way, FAIR has developed quite a track record for inaccuracy. In 1988 FAIR charged that a Texas reporter had attempted suicide because his paper (Beaumont Enterprise) refused to print an article about toxic waste. The truth was that the paper ran an entire series of articles, which won a journalism prize. The reporter hadn’t tried to kill himself; he accidentally wounded himself with a handgun.

In 1993, FAIR promoted the myth that domestic violence soars on Super Bowl Sunday, flooding abuse telephone hotlines with calls and crowding emergency rooms with wives beaten to a pulp by football-crazed husbands. The story was picked up by media outlets all over the country. There was just one problem; it wasn’t true. In fact, Washington Post reporter Ken Ringle debunked the story and detailed FAIR’s role in the hoax in a widely praised article of January 31, 1993. The next day, the San Francisco Examiner reported: “Jeff Cohen, executive direc­tor of FAIR, acknowledged that he could not find a specific study to back up his group’s claim.”

What was disturbing, though not surprising, was that anyone in the mainstream media took FAIR’s assault on me seriously, given the group’s obvious bias and history of error. But since FAIR was repeating so many elitist liberal myths as facts, many in the mainstream media could not tell the difference. Take health care, for example. Not surprising given the current debate, FAIR attacked my view on health care, a charge quickly picked up by the Associated Press. I’m quoted as saying: “If you have any doubts about the status of American health care, just compare it with that in other industrialized nations.” FAIR responded: ‘The United States ranks 16th in life expectancy and 21st in infant survival among industrialized nations, according to the CIA’s 1993 World Fact Book.” 

The truth is, I was right. The Associated Press bought FAIR’s charge hook, line, and sinker, but the evidence supporting my claim was there for the asking—in The New Republic, no less. Elizabeth McCaughey, then a fellow at the Manhattan Institute, in her article, “No Exit,” answered this myth directly: ‘The [Clinton ] Administration often cites two statistics—America’s relatively high infant mortality rate and its lower life expectancy—to support the need for the Clinton health bill. But these have almost nothing to do with the quality of American medical care. Both statistics reflect the epidemic of low-birth-weight babies born to teenage and drug-addicted mothers, as well as the large numbers of homicides in American cities and drug-related deaths. In fact, if you’re seriously ill, the best place to be is in the United States. Among all industrialized nations, the United States has the highest cure rates for stomach, cervical, and uterine cancer, the second-highest cure rate for breast cancer, and is second to none in treating heart disease.”

The real issue at stake in the health-care debate, as I have pointed out relentlessly on my programs, has been personal liberty. I examined for my audience the actual contents (a novel approach, I realize) of the Clinton health-care plan and its various Democratic incarnations. I pointed out the strictures, fines, penalties—including jail time—included in the president’s plan. I ran the numbers. I detailed projections of the economic effects of the proposal on small business. I examined the history of government-run health care worldwide. I examined the history of government-run programs in the United States. Information citizens needed to make informed decisions, don’t you think? Yet the interest of the mainstream media was merely to champion the Clinton plan, and “give the Clintons credit” for “raising the issue.”

I welcome scrutiny. I gladly defend my opinions, my analysis, and the evidence I cite for them. But my contention is that this administration’s policies do not, except on programs like mine, receive the kind of scrutiny regularly aimed at me. And the emphasis is clearly skewed. I cannot raise your taxes. I cannot regulate your business out of existence. I cannot affect your behavior in any way, shape or form—nor do I wish to. I merely seek to persuade. You are free to turn me off; you can ignore me. But you cannot tune in to another administration, or turn off the one we have. It is their ideas, their assertions, their policies that cry out for careful analysis and scrutiny.

Next, let’s go to the issue of condoms. The New York Times sold FAIR advertising space on its editorial page to make this charge: “Rush’s groundless assertions on issues of public importance include ... condom users have a one-in-five AIDS risk.” This distorts even FAIR’s own study, which quotes me as saying, “The worst of all this is the lie that condoms really protect against AIDS. The condom failure rate can be as high as 20 percent. Would you get on a plane—or put your children on a plane—if one in five passengers would be killed on the flight? Well, the statistic holds for condoms, folks.” That, of course, is distinctly different from saying that condom users have a one-in-five AIDS risk. In addition, though liberals are loathe to admit it, I am right about the ineffectiveness of condoms. A 1993 study by Susan C. Weller for the University of Texas Medical Branch found that “Although contraceptive research indicates that condoms are 87 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, results of HIV transmission studies indicate that condoms may reduce risk of HIV infections by approximately 69 percent,” adding that condom “efficacy may be much lower than commonly assumed.” Weller’s study concludes: “It is a disservice to encourage the belief that condoms will prevent sexual transmission of HIV.

Ideological Fiction

Or take women’s issues. The Los Angeles Times couldn’t resist citing FAIR’s attack on my views on contemporary feminism. I’m quoted as saying: “Women were doing quite well in this country before feminism came along.” FAIR’s response: “Before feminism, women couldn’t even vote.” The fact is, the objectives and tactics of militant feminism bear little resemblance to the women’s suffrage movement. The true backlash in this country is against militant feminism, yet another sign of victory. The largest women’s organization in the country, for example, is not the National Organization for Women, with just 250,000 members. It is, instead, Concerned Women for America, a conservative group, with over 600,000 members. And even liberal women are having second thoughts. Wrote columnist Marilyn Gardner in the Christian Science Monitor (not exactly a conservative rag): “Every revolution has its losing side. In the sexual revolution, evidence continues to mount that the supposed winners—liberated women—are in some cases turning out to be the losers. Instead of the freedom and equality they thought they had achieved, too many find themselves shackled by unplanned pregnancies, abortions, single motherhood, infections or infertility.” Precisely. But with Gloria Steinem and Susan Faludi on FAIR’s board, don’t expect them to concede these points any time soon.

The elites have far too often dismissed fact for their ideological fiction. More and more Americans are beginning to awaken to this reality, and are looking to me for a second opinion. I give them the other side, which is based on common sense and traditional morality rather than academic hypotheses. And I am right, (as I like to say on the air) “97.9 percent of the time.” On radio for six years and more than 4,000 hours, I have of course made mistakes along the way. But I make every attempt to prominently correct every such error as soon as I discover it. Here’s an example of what FAIR considers a “fabrication”: In one of my books, I attributed to James Madison a quote that he did not make. (People have been misattributing this quote to Madison as far back as Harold K. Lane’s 1939 book, Liberty, Cry, Liberty.) This is a mistake—not a lie. And I have yet to publicly promise a middle-class tax cut I privately dismiss as “intellectually dishonest,” and which I have no intention of keeping.

Third, liberals fear me because I’m validating the thoughts of the silent majority. Liberals seek to lull Americans to sleep with promises that government will take care of everything, if they will just fork over their money. I, on the other hand, challenge people to wake up. Millions already seriously question the wisdom of handing $1.5 trillion a year to the federal government when the post office cannot even deliver the mail on time—and actually throws away what it is too lazy to deliver. I provide the hard information, statistics, and specific details from the record to confirm many Americans’ suspicions about government “efficiency.” That is the sort of thing that infuriates liberals, who are wed to the idea that government is good, and the bigger the better.

New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis, in a revealing July article entitled, ‘Where Power Lies,” argued that “power does not reside only in the White House or government anymore.” His worst nightmare, apparently. Instead, “those who seek to destroy faith in the American political system have considerable power now, power demanding attention.” Lewis breathlessly explained that “Rush Limbaugh’s game” is “to throw dirt on government and anyone who believes that society needs government. In his hateful talk about President and Mrs. Clinton and others in office, he is really trying to destroy public faith in our institutions. “

The charge is preposterous. He admits he never listens to my program—“a pleasure I deny myself,” as he puts it. As anyone in my audience will tell you, I defend the institutions and traditions which have made America great. But perhaps Mr. Lewis should go back and re-read some of his old columns for a clue about why Americans are so upset with government today. In 1992 he wrote: “Hyperbole is to be expected of politicians. But deliberate lies? I think that kind of politics has brought this country close to disbelief in its political system.” He was referring, unconvincingly, to George Bush—but a reader can be forgiven if our current president springs to mind. And that is just it. Official deception and dissembling are responsible for Americans “growing anger and frustration with government. I simply shine the light of truth on it.

Lewis asserts: “Indeed, it is especially important to watch, and hold accountable, those who seek power without responsibility.” Lewis was erroneously referring to me; the sentence accurately describes, however, Mrs. Clinton—who, unelected and unaccountable, has sought to reorder one-seventh of the American economy.

Clinton’s Snow Job

Liberals are not upset because I am wrong; they are upset because I am right. Every day, I expose the Clinton Administration’s real agenda: “How can we fool ’em today?” I ask, ‘Where is the soul of Bill Clinton?” I point out that under Clinton, achievement must be vilified; the rich must be punished. I warn people that liberals support government programs, because government money is the basis of their political power. These are things Americans suspect anyway, but they have trouble discerning the facts amid the fog created by the mainstream media. I sift through the morning’s headlines, through miles of videotape, through books, articles, and speeches in a relentless pursuit of the truth. More often than not, I confirm their fears—the Clinton Administration is engaged in a massive snow job. That is validation.

The question, of course, is what people will do with truth once they have it. Liberals are absolutely convinced that I am always telling people to call Congress to complain about this issue or that (another erroneous FAIR charge). I did so once, simply to prove to a skeptical reporter what would happen if I actually did it. The calls shut down the Capitol Hill switchboard. The truth is, I don’t need to urge people to call Congress. They are thoughtful, informed, serious people. That’s why they listen to me. It is up to them to decide what to do with the truth. Some, I am sure, do call Congress. Others subscribe to conservative periodicals and read classic conservative books, teach their children at home, write letters to the editor, run for school boards, and volunteer to work on local political campaigns or with a local charity. The possibilities for action and involvement are as unlimited as well-informed, optimistic citizens make them.

“I don’t understand: Why does anyone take Rush Limbaugh seriously?” asked USA Today columnist Michael Gartner, proceeding to attack me for producing “a stew of half-truths and non-truths.” It is not surprising that this former president of NBC is so baffled. He is, after all, a charter member of the media elite, kicked out of NBC after “Dateline” staged an explosion of a General Motors truck, and after a “Nightly News” report on environmental abuses ran footage of “dead” fish that turned out not to be dead. The answer to his question, however, is simple. People take me seriously because I am effective. I celebrate an America made great because of the extraordinary accomplishments of ordinary people—unlike the media, who promote the mistaken premise that the country’s success stems from government programs. What I express is called belief in the American people, not contempt for them.

Fourth and finally, liberals fear me because I am not running for political office, and thus I am invulnerable to the political attacks of liberals. “Demagogues ... fizzle out because people weary of the act or because the political equation changes or because they face a real political challenge,” insisted the Nation’s Alexander Cockburn in a July Los Angeles Times column. “There’s almost no one out there fighting the political battles with Limbaugh in language ordinary people can understand and enjoy.” The same month, leftist columnist Lars-Erik Nelson lamented in the Washington Post, ‘‘There is no leftist equivalent to Rush Limbaugh.”

Liberals treat me as if I were the Republican presidential candidate. But I have no interest in running for office. Why should I? I am setting the agenda right where I am—with something very simple: The truth. Liberals, who for so long have dominated the nation’s institutions and who have tried so hard to dominate the nation’s political agenda, flounder helplessly as a result. They understand how to fight a political challenge—war rooms, bus tours, direct mail, editorials, protests. They do not know how to fight a cultural challenge—the explosion of talk radio—except to try to regulate it out of existence (as in their attempts to revive the Fairness Doctrine, dubbed the “Hush Rush Bill” by the Wall Street Journal.)

What is actually happening now is a threat to liberal control of America’s institutions. And this phenomenon is not a political one. The American people are discovering once again what the Founders always intended—that the country’s future is in their hands. It depends on parents raising their children; it depends on teachers pushing these children to excellence; it depends on grandparents teaching these children the traditional lessons of morality and virtue; it depends on pastors, priests, and rabbis pointing these children to the God who loves them.

The Most Dangerous Man in America

That is not to say politics or the presidency is not important; it is. Washington takes too much of our money and our liberties and reinforces the dangerous myth that government can provide security and happiness and success. Yes, Americans need to send men and women of character to Washington and state capitals. But politics is not everything.

That is my message, and that is why I am dangerous. Neither the 1994 nor 1996 election results will serve as the sole indicators of the impact of my programs, because the battle is not simply for political control; it is for re-establishing control of America’s institutions. And because I am affecting the debate on how that can be achieved, liberals are apoplectic.

Many times I get calls on my show from people who rail against one liberal outrage or another and complain that the country is going down the tubes. That was certainly the reaction this summer as liberals fired their salvos at me and my audience. But actually, the liberal extremists may well be on their last legs. Their power source, the Democratic Party and its leadership, is woefully out of touch. They simply cannot extricate themselves from bondage; their power base is a constituency of victimhood. The shrill tone and apocalyptic hyperbole that characterize liberal attacks on me are instructive, speaking volumes about their fear of becoming irrelevant.

Historians will remember 1994 as a watershed year in American politics. This was the year that modern liberalism, the ideology dominating nearly every important cultural and political institution in the country, tipped its hand, revealing its deep insecurity. The summer of 1994 will be remembered as the season that liberals, acutely aware of the seismic rumbles just below the surface of American politics and society, unleashed their fury against a man who is neither a politician nor a candidate for political office. This was the summer all hell broke loose against the “most dangerous man in America.”

Liberals are terrified of me. As well they should be.