With the defeat of Clinton-style health-care "reform" (government takeover of one-seventh of the U.S. economy), liberalism has experienced its most humiliating public repudiation. Thirty years after the commencement of the Great Society, 25 years after Woodstock and two years after Democrats secured control of the White House and Congress, modern liberalism -- exhausted and confused -- is on the run. Thirty years after Ronald Reagan's brilliant enunciation of conservative ideals at the end of the Goldwater campaign, the torch has been passed to me. And liberal fear is palpable.
Thus, in nearly every major media outlet in America -- the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, USA Today, you name it -- a sizzling onslaught has been launched against me. But they've consistently gotten it wrong. Why do liberals fear me?
Because I threaten their control of the debate. "We're going to push through health-care reform regardless of the views of the American people," insisted Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va. That once was standard operating procedure for Washington liberals. longer. Twenty million people a week listen to my radio show on 659 stations nationwide, on short wave and Armed Forces Radio worldwide, while millions more watch my television show on 250 stations nationwide. Add to that 6 million copies sold of my two books and 475,000 monthly subscribers to the Limbaugh Letter. Now people actually know what's in legislation, what legislators actually say and how Washington impacts on their freedom.
In their attacks, my critics misjudge and insult the American people. If I were really what liberals claim -- racist, hatemonger, blowhard -- I would years ago have deservedly gone into oblivion.
The truth is, I provide information and analysis the media refuses to disseminate, information and analysis the public craves. People listen to me for one reason: I am effective. And my credibility is judged in the marketplace every day.
Because I represent America's rejection of liberal elites. Americans feel lied to by the so-called experts. They 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 environmentalists, the world would come to an end; it won't. They were told religious people are dangerous to the country; they aren't. They were told liberal prison reform would "rehabilitate" criminals; it hasn't. I use facts. Statistics. I run the numbers. I provide the evidence, every day, that the liberal experts have missed the mark.
I validate the convictions of ordinary people. Liberals are not upset because I'm wrong; they are upset because they suspect I'm right. I expose this administration's real agenda: "How can we fool 'em today?" To do so, I sift through newspapers, newsmagazines, miles of videotape, books and speeches in a relentless pursuit of the truth. I champion the extraordinary accomplishments of ordinary people, the best that the human spirit does.
I celebrate the greatness of America, the rugged individualism that built it and still makes it work. My enunciation of these core beliefs has a power and a resonance that liberals cannot match.
Because I am not running for anything. I am setting the agenda right where I am, and liberals flounder as a result. They understand how to fight political challenges: war rooms, bus tours, direct mail. They do not know how to fight a cultural challenge -- the explosion of talk radio -- except to try to regulate it out of existence. (This despite the fact that I cannot raise taxes, confiscate business' profits, limit people's freedom or send American soldiers to Haiti as part of Operation Just Because.)
I am not an activist. What people do with the information and analysis I serve up is up to them. My listeners are not mind-numbed robots. They are thoughtful, informed, engaged citizens.
As such, more and more Americans are rediscovering what the Founders always intended, that the country's future is in their hands. This is a genuine threat to the status quo and to liberal control of America's institutions.
That is why liberals are terrified of me. As well they should be.
Rush Limbaugh is host of nationally syndicated radio and television programs. This article is adapted from the fall, 1994, issue of Policy Review, the Heritage Foundation magazine.