It's true, the other media doesn't properly portray the man you hear on the radio for fifteen hours, each week. I've never seen so many words taken out of context and reported on with such fury. He's certainly not boring and unless you don't understand the meaning of the phrase "tongue-in-cheek," he's not a jerk. Whether you agree with him on political matters or not (and I suspect many people actually do more often than they realize, they just don't understand the packaging), you can't argue that the man is extremely talented and a master of many things.
But politics aside, there have been two things that have stood out to me since I've started listening to Rush. One has something to do with why he didn't finish college but the one that has been weighing heavily on my mind has to do with worrying about what others think of you. I wish I had the exact wording of the speech he gave that day but I do think of it from time to time and try to apply it to my life. The concept is simple and one we've heard since kindergarten: don't base your life on what others think. Rush spoke of how much his life changed and how successful he became the moment he decided to do just that. There was something about the way he said it that day that really stood out to me.
Today, I was listening to some music (iTunes set to shuffle) and the song from which I got the name of this blog came on: "Truth No. 2." Obviously, I really like the song. I like the "swing me way down south" line because it reminds me of growing up in the South and the great places and people I've experienced in my home state and those that surround it. But the rest of the lyrics have always been important to me, too. Ironically (since the Dixie Chicks ended up covering the song and Patty Griffin wrote it), I've always applied the words to what I write, think, and say about politics. I'm sure there is some sort of copyright law against posting the entire song's lyrics, so I will link them here: TRUTH NO. 2 LYRICS, but I think the first verse is really telling:
You don't like the sound of the truth/Coming from my mouth/You say that I lack the proof/Well, baby, that might be so/I might get to the end of my life/Find out everyone was lying/I don't think that I’m afraid anymore/Say that I would rather die trying
For a while I found myself burned out on politics in general. But in June 2008, someone mentioned Sarah Palin for Vice President. I liked that idea, but thought it'd never happen, simply because she was the most logical person for the job and I had very little faith in John McCain. I'm not talking about picking her to play to certain audiences or anything like that. I'm talking about picking her because she had strengths where McCain had weaknesses and once again, I saw another common sense, "small government" leader. Most people had no idea who she was, exactly. I'd been following her career since she became governor of Alaska. I honestly think it was the name that originally caught my interest, followed by my desire for there to be more young, vibrant women playing larger roles in the Republican Party.
I'll never forget the day McCain decided to announce his Vice President. I was out somewhere and my dad called me. He said something like, "I don't believe it, but I think you're right. They say a plane just touched down from Alaska." I hurried to my parents' house and we sat around and watch as the country was introduced to Sarah Palin. To borrow an idea from our current first lady, I can think of very few moments when I've been prouder to be an American and as you all know, I love this country more than anything.
That day, my interest in politics came back. The next few months would be long ones and if it weren't for my friends, Pat and Roxy, who were just as passionate about blogging about the election as I was, I'm not sure I would have made it through! And if it weren't for Sarah Palin, I honestly think I would have lost a little faith in this country. I saw a politician who was there for the right reasons in Palin. I saw millions of people ready to follow her every move, not because she was some mythical creature created by the media or a "rock star" as people often said, but because after twenty years of waiting, the people who had entrusted their lives and the lives of their children with Ronald Reagan because he did speak from the heart and he did use common sense, these people were learning to trust again. They saw someone who spoke for them - who is them.
There is a point to all of this. Since the election, I've struggled with how much or how little I wanted to keep myself involved in politics. There have been days I've wanted to shut off my computer and TV, never to speak of it again and there have been days I've been itching to drop everything and reapply for a political internship I started to go for once before. I think I've learned a lot about myself and what really matters in the last few months and a lot of about the people around me. But there are days when I'm scared, yes, SCARED to put my opinions out there out of fear of the responses I'll get or worrying what people will think of me.
If Rush Limbaugh worried what other thought of him, I'm almost certain the republican party would be in worse shape than it is. We're lacking true leadership these days, if you haven't noticed, and I honestly accredit that to the media, somewhat. Some days, I feel like Rush is all we have. Call him a "celebrity" or whatever you want, but he's obviously important or our dear President wouldn't be talking about as he has this past week and CNN wouldn't take his every word out of context and make it a top story.
If Sarah Palin, the woman I'm not ashamed to say is my hero, worried what others thought of her, she'd probably never have entered politics at all. The state of Alaska would probably not be in as great shape as it is, and again, the Republican Party would probably be in worse shape than it is. I drive around and I see people still proudly displaying Sarah Palin memorabilia. I see new Palin '12 stickers and signs. I see Sarah Palin enthusiasts all throughout the internet with groups like Team Sarah with over 65,000 active members.
I could go on with other people I admire, but they all seem to have that one thing in common.
There's a reason I chose that song to make my blog theme and it's not all about being a proud Southerner. It's about having my opinions and not being afraid to put them out there. It's about not letting others get to me when I know in my heart that I can live with my own opinions and values and am learning to be happy with the way I live my life. I've always been very political and that's just the way it is. It's interesting and to me, it's important. I have no problem with people who aren't and I have no problem with people who disagree with me. If you look at my list of blogs I read, several of those listed are not politically in step with me but I like to hear what they have to say on other matters. I have several friends and relatives who do not see eye-to-eye with me on any one political issue and that's fine. There are a million other things we have to talk about and a million reasons why we can't let that stand in the way of our relationships.
What I don't care for are people who are rude and disrespectful over a difference of opinion and do let it stand in the way of everything else, but that's to be expected in anything, I suppose, particularly politics...and I'm learning it's true that those people usually aren't happy with themselves. They aren't as confident in themselves as Rush Limbaugh is, as Sarah Palin is...as I am.
And I will never apologize for it.