When Rush Limbaugh first went on the air, I listened to him a lot to find out what he was all about. After a while, I totally understood and realized that I didn’t need to listen to him any more because I knew exactly where he would come down on any issue, and because he was repeating himself. However, the talk I have been hearing recently about being conservative or liberal, and what those words stand for, reminded me of one of his early conversations.
The man he had on the line said he didn’t think it was useful to label people. Rush totally disagreed. He said in such a way – I don’t remember the exact words – that it said to me, No, wait a minute, bub. you’re not going to take that weapon away from me.
And that reminded me of what a salesman and air personality who worked with me at WBML in Macon, Georgia in the early 1950s when I was going to Mercer University, told me about the late racist Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge. The salesman said he had worked as a broadcast consultant for Talmadge at one time. He told me that he asked Talmadge about his race baiting on the campaign stump, “Why do you do that? You can win without it.” He said Talmadge told him, “That’s my ‘weepon’, son. I can’t give up my ‘weepon.'” “Weepon” was his faux-country dialect for weapon, of course. Eugene Talmadge spoke the flagrant racist redneck of the time, but definitely knew better. He had a degree in English from the University of Gerogia.
I think for most people labeling is often misleading. Not everyone who is conservative or liberal on some things is conservative or liberal on all things. Most conservatives I know are definitely for tax supported public education. They are also for public highways, street lights, traffic lights, libraries, and, actually, it’s hard to find a conservative who now admits he or she is opposed to Social Security, Medicare or Medicade, though conservatives fought them tooth and nail and called them socialistic when they were passed into law. All of those things could come under the socialism rubric. Does that make conservatives who now support them socialists?
The truth is that most of us support some things considered socialistic and some capitalistic. We have, and have had from the beginning of this country, a mixed economy, part capitalistic and part socialistic. Yes, it has trended more in one direction or the other during certain time periods. But, as far as I can discern, it has never been totally one way or the other.
I guess what it boils down to is that some people like to think in terms of things being either black or white, and others realize that most are really in shades of grey.
However, that doesn’t mean the politicians who really know all of that are going to give up their weapon words. I don’t know if that will ever happen.