Tuesday, October 28, 2003

The era of worrying about bleeding heart liberals is over. It's time to think about the Limbaugh conservatives. I know I said liberals needed more compassion for him, but this is the only name available for a concept that badly needs a name.

I'm sure some liberals would call every conservative a Limbaugh conservative, and I can't feel too upset since many conservatives used to call every liberal a bleeding heart liberal before the word 'liberal' could be made to sound like a curse all by itself. What we need a word for is someone who is driven by fear and hate, much of which is rooted in his or her own personal life. I myself would not use this word for someone who used facts and logic to support conservative positions, without overt appeals to emotion. It's hard to listen to Rush Limbaugh for even a few minutes without suspecting that the conventional (liberal) wisdom, that conservatives might be cold hearted but are not over emotional, is wrong. Anger from his personal life has given his political pronouncements an authentic rage, and it has struck a chord in many listeners.

Since we're talking about Limbaugh, mnadatory jail sentences (probably much worse where I live in New York state that where he is) for certain classes of drug users are a good example. Not only is treatment more effective at preventing repeat offenses, it's also cheaper. A Limbaugh conservative is someone who doesn't object to spending more to lock someone up than it would cost to give them welfare, because they secretly feel that 'they' are the enemy, and locking them up is fighting them, but drug treatment isn't. Not only is treatment cheaper in the long term, it's cheaper in the short term. I am not now critisising people for failing to consider their enlightened self interest, but for being so overwhelmed by fear and anger that they will spend more for a failed policy than a successful one.

I guess we all have some Limbaugh in us, we all have fear and hatred, but most of us try to think rationally despite it. Those who wear it as a badge of honor are the true Limbaugh conservatives.

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