When you work for a grassroots campaign dedicated to ending corruption and wrenching power away from the power-brokers, you don't wake up in the morning thinking, "Gee, let's see what kind of bone Rush Limbaugh throws us today." And let me state at the outset for all you would-be haters: This is not about Rush's political views or finger-pointing (middle or otherwise). It's about his position on corruption and money in politics.
You see, just a scant three years ago, right after the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United decision, Rush was basking in the glow of what he quite obviously believed to be a step in the right direction for our country. A victory for conservatives over the feeble-minded-would-be-free-speech-limiters. These are his words from a January 21, 2010, radio show entitled, with a characteristically ominous flair, "Freedom Awakens from Coma."
Freedom is awaking from its coma today because of a huge, huge, huge Supreme Court decision -- huge. I cannot tell you how big this is. It's a 5-4 decision. The decision was written by Justice Kennedy. And what it does, it removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidate's campaigns. Meaning corporations and not-for-profits can spend any amount of money they want running ads and there's no limit as to when those ads can be run.
His glee couldn't be much clearer: Freedom to spend = freedom of speech = good for America. Period. And though I vehemently disagree that freedom to bribe members of Congress and presidential candidates constitutes freedom's great awakening, I'm happy to let him have his opinion....
Well, that's not quite true. Here's the whole truth:
I'm happy to let him have his opinion on this subject if -- and only if -- it paints him into a corner so that three years later this gem of a quote shows up in my inbox with my daily news updates from Politico:
"Corporate cronyism is on the increase," [Limbaugh] said. "Money is the number one reason behind this. All of the moneyed interests, the donors and the political consultants, are telling these Republicans the money is gonna dry up if they don't support amnesty," Limbaugh continued.
"There's no evidence the Republican Party's interested in conservatism," he said. "You can't rule the money out of this [position]."
I'm sure from where you're sitting, you can picture the smug look on my face. And, yes, it's there. But what you might not see is what's behind that wry little grin. I'm grinning because I'm so sick and tired of the manufactured narrative that this is somehow a progressive fight. I'm sick of talking heads from either side of the political aisle stirring the pot and politicizing the issue of corruption. I'm sick of those who oh-so-boldly stand up against powerful moneyed interests when it suits their partisan agenda or bumps their issue du jour, but point a crooked finger across the aisle when it doesn't. And I'm sick of swimming upstream every time I argue that corruption is a conservative issue just as much as it is a progressive issue.
Do I really believe that Limbaugh has evolved beyond partisanship? No, the sun still rises in the East. But I'm grinning because I've learned that at the end of the day America only works when it represents its people, and it's fun to see Rush learn that lesson too.
Rush's revelation is a beautiful reminder that in a fight this big, one in which we're demanding a fundamental shift to the power structure in American politics, we're all going to have to learn to let go of the partisan bullshit and accept that sometimes the issues we care about will win and sometimes they will lose. But winning today means nothing if along the way we're handing over the keys to the castle to greedy special interests -- throwing away our country, our future, and everything it means to be "American" while we're at it.
Cross-posted at daily.Represent.Us