The Ledger 2/19/21

Thoughts by Richard Bleil

News of Rush Limbaugh’s death reached me today. Rush has never been my favorite person, but I would not wish this fate on anybody although, frankly, if I did it would be a fruitless exercise. Death is the fate for which we are all destined sooner or later, one way or the other. And in the end, what have we got?

The ledger.

Rush is gone. He had many followers in his life, but as of today, it’s meaningless. They are beyond his reach he can no longer influence them and for all intents and purposes his fame has ended with his life. The wealth he gathered through his fame and no longer be used by him. Some might argue that through his will, estate and business his influence will continue, but what that will may have been is now open to interpretation. His corporation may continue the work he began, but as time passes, whatever his will may have turned into will begin to diverge from what it might have been if he were still alive. No doubt, they’ll be true to his legacy for a while, but death brings an end to all of our schemes.

But the ledger remains. The sum total of our deeds, actions and life remains and always will. All of us have, like it or not, done harm and good, and even have many actions that had no noticeable influence at all. The question we all must ask ourselves is if, in the end, our ledger is net red or net black. Have we had more positive than negative, done more good than harm, or are we in debt for the damage we’ve caused?

There’s no doubt in my mind that Rush tried to do what he believed to be right, but he lived his life promoting anger, aligning with lies, and misleading people to sway their thoughts. Today, conservatives are undergoing an identity crisis as their movement has become synonymous with untrustworthy, and the Republic party is badly fractured as moderate conservatives are at odds with extremists within the party who have turned against the Constitution even as they claim to fight for it. Much of this turmoil, if not directly attributable to Rush, has at least been bolstered because of his extreme approach of questionable morals.

Yes, I am also opinionated. I can’t hide that; anybody who reads my posts is fully aware that I tend towards the liberal perspective, and I have no doubt that some of my opinions and beliefs are wrong, where by “wrong” I mean they may not be the best approach to accomplish a goal or it may be doing more harm than good if I get my way. But my ledger is filled with pluses and minuses, just as everybody’s.

If my hypothesis about Rush is correct, then we do have one thing in common. Like I am assuming he did, I try my level best to do what is best for the country, and for my fellow human beings. Of course, I may be wrong about Limbaugh. See, in 1949 the FCC introduced a rule called the “Fairness Doctrine”, a rule that required that controversial matters be given equal time to both sides of the debate. This is why, when I was a kid, every time there was an opinion segment, it always was followed by an alternate opinion. This rule was hotly contested by conservative movements since its implementation as they realized that, given both sides of an argument, the American voters would favor the more humanistic approach of the liberals. After fighting for decades, the Conservative movement managed to get this rule eliminated in 1987 under President Reagan

The Rush Limbaugh show was syndicated in 1988, one year after the Fairness Doctrine was eliminated. It has not escaped my notice that Rush’s notoriety came quickly on the tail of the loss of requirement to be fair and honest. One could blame the conservative broadcasters for this timing, but even if we were to blame them, the reality is that Rush allowed himself to be the head of this action. Ironically, even without the law, enough people complained that eventually, to eliminate the possibility of lawsuits, a disclaimer was created to precede each episode claiming that the show was being presented for “entertainment purposes only.” But there is no doubt that his many followers and fans saw the show as anything but purely entertainment, including President Trump creating with Rush an echo chamber where they repeated each other’s misrepresentations.

Whether you believe in heaven and hell, or reincarnation, or that this is all there is, I can’t help but wonder if Rush died with thoughts of his ledger on his mind.

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