Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Limbaugh's Right But Still Wrong

Once again, he's right, but still, so wrong.

Rush Limbaugh, the guy who's never run for politics yet has managed to contrive a whole right-wing media industry based on his hubris (talk about your free markets!), is at it again.

Today, on his website, Limbaugh foments a particularly dissonant fear about the demise of the Republican Party:

"I don't say this happily at all," he writes for his website's headline article, "GOP Establishment Invites Its Own Extinction."

"I don't think there's any doubt that, even now, a whole bunch of Republicans don't understand what the Democrat Party is trying to do," Limbaugh continues, crowing as if the fix is in.  "The Democrat Party, from the White House on down, is literally trying to, in a political sense, in the political arena, annihilate 'em [Republicans].  The Democrat Party is trying to wipe 'em out.  The Democrat Party wants the Republican Party to be extinct."

Ahh, OK... 

And what, pray tell, does the Republican Party want, but the extinction of the Democratic Party?

At the conclusion of his tirade, Limbaugh unfurls a call to arms:  "This is a political battle to the death.  The Democrats are on the march.  They don't want to have to wake up every day and even deal with the existence of Republicans.  They want to wipe out any effective opposition, not get along with it, not compromise with it."

Boy, it looks like President Obama reelection is going to be a boon for not only the gun industry, but right-wing radio's talking heads.

Quit Wrapping the Cross In the American Flag

Let's get one thing straight here, folks:  there's nothing sacred about the Republican Party, or the Democratic Party, or even the United States of America.  Especially for people who supposedly claim allegiance with Jesus, the Christ.  The Republican Party happens to be a political party in which many evangelicals feel particularly comfortable, but it's hardly a virtuous organization.

And while we're blessed to have been chosen by God to live in America at this particular point in time, and while the tasks He's given us to do here may differ from those He's bestowed upon His people in China, or Honduras, or Sweden, we still belong to God.  We're designed and equipped for His purposes.  It's just that some of us live in countries where we have an easier time serving God than His people who live elsewhere.

This doesn't mean we American evangelicals should ignore what's taking place in our government.  But our guidance in all things political - in ALL things political - should be God and His Gospel.

Rush Limbaugh is peddling a gospel that is decidedly different in many respects from God's.  Sure, they may overlap when it comes to things like the sanctity of life, and they may parallel each other in places like working to provide for one's family, but Limbaugh bases his gospel on fear.

Indeed, I'm sure many evangelicals have become anxious because of Limbaugh's bluster and hype.  We've come to associate our happiness with how we perceive the United States is managing our money and might across this planet.  But friends, let's be honest:  that's not God's Gospel, is it?

We believers in Christ need to wake up and smell the celestial coffee, because whenever any of us place any confidence in anything other than God, we are sinning.  And the father of all lies is behind it.  If you can't at least allow an "Amen!" to flicker across your brain at this point, then you might need to beseech the Lord for mercy.

This is incredibly important!  Rush Limbaugh is not your friend.  He may be a fun guy, with his cigar and Palm Beach tan, and he may put together an interesting show since he's a sophisticated entertainer.  But his product is mostly a sham.  God wants us to discern between right and wrong, but right and wrong doesn't dovetail neatly into left-wing and right-wing politics.  None of the right-wing talk show hosts are out there seeking to honor God by educating their listeners with well-rounded analyses of how theology applies to crucial social matters.  Do they begin and end their shows with prayer, asking for God's holy guidance and His grace to help His people stand firm on unpopular issues intrinsic to His deity?

Do they?

Here's a tip for you:  to the extent that right-wing talk shows help perpetuate a healthy expression of free speech, listening for the nuggets of political truth they may occasionally reveal isn't necessarily harmful.  I respect their Constitutional right to run their mouths, and I recognize that in terms of conservative politics, their point-by-point refutations of liberal propaganda can be helpful in discerning what our policymakers are up to.  But if we're listening to them for a longer period of time per day than the amount of time we've put into our daily devotional, from whom do you think you're getting your worldview?

Republicans want Democrats to Be Extinct, but It's Voters Who Decide

In this case, maybe Limbaugh is genuinely scared that "elite" Republicans are blaming radical Tea Partiers for the GOP's bad showing in last November's elections.  Maybe Limbaugh is right in pointing out that leaders in the Republican Party have given up on the Tea Partiers and are considering more centrist approaches to policy making.  Maybe these backslidden Republicans will begin to backtrack on their previously rigid stances on illegal immigration and - gasp! - even gun control.

But if Limbaugh is right about that, so what?  For us evangelicals, how much should it matter that Tea Partiers can no longer hold the GOP hostage to a set of unrealistic and unattainable political objectives?  I realize that for generations now, conservatives have been indoctrinated into believing that democracy and republicanism are the two purest forms of government.  But what we've failed to remember is that majority-rules only works to our satisfaction when most of the people think the same way we do.

In our system of government, as moral decline has continued to erode the fabric of our society, we evangelicals should be first to recognize that if divorce rates are rising, along with teenaged pregnancy rates, and abortion, it won't be too long before things like "traditional" marriage and the sanctity of life become arbitrary concepts.  We can be disappointed at this trend, but hardly surprised.  Especially since the church has consistently done a miserable job at modeling Christ-honoring behavior to those around us.

Meanwhile, politicians live and die based on trends, not morality.  So even if the Tea Party movement had the purest of motives and the most Godly of intentions, it can't expect to wield any influence over Washington if they increasingly represent views most voters don't hold.  It's not like Tea Partiers will win more votes by intentionally antagonizing more voters.  Why is this such a bizarre concept for Limbaugh and his fellow right-wingers?

Unless, as Hillary Clinton claimed years ago, there really is a "vast right-wing conspiracy" out there waiting to unleash its sleeper cells of voters?

Wait! Is Limbaugh Advocating Compromise?!

Proving his own fallacy, Limbaugh even castigates liberal Democrats for not wanting to expend the necessary effort in compromising with Republicans.  He said so, at the conclusion of his latest rant:

"[Democrats] want to wipe out any effective opposition, not get along with it, not compromise with it."

Do you see how suddenly, Limbaugh validates the very thing he's accusing Republicans of wanting to do?  Compromise?  How else does compromise work in politics, unless all opposing sides find middle ground on which they can agree?  Political compromise isn't one-sided, and if he thinks it is, or should be, Limbaugh proves that his bluster is all show and no substance.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it, because even if you don't believe me, it's true:  Limbaugh and his ilk and their followers are not contributing anything of lasting value to the debates and conflicts that are hobbling our government.

No, government is not the answer to America's problems.  But neither is belligerent intransigence of the type spouted by Limbaugh and his ilk.  He sees the Republican Party as the answer to America's problems, and that's why he advocates so desperately on the behalf of right-wingers.  Well, that, and because he's making good money himself doing it - another reason his listeners should question his motives.

How could what's right be so wrong?

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