Geno from The Bronx should have his own radio show. On Thursday’s Rush Limbaugh show, at the end of the third hour, he called in and gave Rush an almighty hiding about Rush’s advice to conservatives to avoid the conservative label, which admittedly has a PR problem. Now I see Rush’s point, and his advice is not necessarily bad, but there is also, as Geno points out, an aspect of ceding ground to the creeping left.
“Progressive,” without even being accurately defined sounds wonderful! Progress, moving forward, current, advanced. Only good things. Conservative means you don’t like anything new, you’re trying to hold on to the past, you’re trying to save things, and you’re not trying to expand, you’re not trying to learn, you’re not trying to grow, you just — you just closed-minded. And so my thought is to stop using the term, stop describing yourself as a conservative, proudly or otherwise. Don’t label yourself at all.
‘Cause the minute you do, a certain percentage of these left wingers just gonna stop listening to you, and they’re going to think whatever they have been told to think about you, before they ever get to know you. But if instead of being seen as a conservative because you never identify yourself as such, you instead focus on solving problems […].
The issue with this is one I have pointed out many times over the previous 10-12 years, namely that the left is not impressed with arguments, that they argue not to engage in dialogue, but to delay, deny, and defeat opposing points of view in a way that has nothing to do with facts, logic or words. The right argues to convince — after all we have the better arguments. The left argues to shut down arguments. It is no accident that you cannot pin a leftist down on facts, or even get them to stay on topic. One (that is to say, two) cannot have a conversation if the topic cannot be defined, and the left is not interested in conversation, but in victory.
Rush has accurately diagnosed one of the problems with the term “progressive”, but he habitually deals with this by calling them liberals instead. This is unfortunate, because the recent meaning of the term “liberal” in American discourse means leftist, whereas its classical meaning is rich in history of opposing top-down power. By rights, small-government conservatives are classical liberals, in the same way that Robin Hood was a conservative — he stole not from “the rich”, but from a confiscatory government. He handed those riches not to “the poor” but to the merchants of the town and those who tilled the earth and shoveled the poop — Robin Hood was a tax reform activist, and a liberal in the classic sense — his time was the classical era.
Progressivism and its definition is a topic I will take up in another post. Rush would do well to get on board the Haakon Dahl wagon of calling progressives what they are. If we defined *their* label better, the contrast with our label would stand much more clearly. In an era of powerful, centralizing government, from the Wilson administration through the present, conservatism is inherently liberal — in the classical sense.
Geno from The Bronx has had enough, and takes Rush to task for advising that we drop the term “conservative” from our discourse with those for whom the term is poisoned. While I do see great utility in seeming to come from nowhere until a conversation is established, and discretion is not at all a bad habit to develop — give away less information than you gain, and take the other person to task for his position’s lack of merit, rather than make a claim and withstand the attack — the fact is that the rest of that conversation does not happen. They are not listening, and they do not want to. All we will have accomplished by dropping the label of conservative from our ideological business card is to drop a flag in the dirt, and walk away as if it were not ours.
Geno (much text snipped throughout — go read the whole wonderful thing):
Rush, I’m very disappointed in you and in fact, quite honestly, I’m angry with you because of what you told that lady two days ago and what you told the other call today earlier today in the program.
I’m here to tell you it’s time for you to go back to the way you were and take back what you said today! Because I’m gonna give it to you straight. I live in the Bronx. I’m on the front lines. I every day have to confront left-wing lizards and brain-dead Bolsheviks! And they give me a hard time every day, but I get right back in their face and I tell ’em, “You go to hell!”
And now you gonna tell me that I should back down and that I should somehow say, well, I’m not a conservative, but I’m a problem solver because I should fear these fools that are out there. No, Rush. It’s time for you to get back to basics.
[To progressives: ] You’re an imbecile, you’re an idiot, you’re a jackass and you’re gonna help destroy our country from within, if we listen to the crap that you’re trying to tell us.
So I’m gonna give you an opportunity right here and now, Rush, on your own show to take back what you said to that lady yesterday and earlier today, otherwise what I’m gonna do is I’m gonna come and I’m gonna take that microphone away from you and gonna be the Jay Leno to your Johnny Carson!
Admit you’re wrong and do it right here, right now.
After some back and forth, Geno also announced that he was gonna come down to Florida, take the mic from Rush, and Rush told him it was open line Friday tomorrow (today), and that he was welcome to take over. “I haven’t taken a vacation this year.” Geno also let Rush know that a long-promised Chicken Parmesan dinner for Rush and his wife was no longer available, and that Mr. Snerdley would get the dinner before Rush ever would unless Rush recanted.
I’ll see if this audio snippet becomes available. I may extract a bit of the under Fair Use provisions, to give a full sense of the tone of the call. Meanwhile, the whole transcript is available at the link in the first paragraph of this post. And I would love to hear Geno on the show on Friday.