The Limbaugh Rule Is Changing America - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
The Limbaugh Rule Is Changing America

“In an election year when voters are fed up with liberalism and socialism — and when the fate of the country as founded is at stake — you vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary. Period.” — Rush Limbaugh defining “The Limbaugh Rule” on September 14, 2010




Florida, Kentucky, Alaska, Nevada, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Wisconsin, New York.


Is the Limbaugh Rule changing America state by state? District by district? Is it on the verge of leading change in the White House itself?

Answer: Yes.

Will you ever hear this in the liberal media?

Yes. Absolutely yes. Surprised? Don’t be. We’ll come back to this in a minute.

First, let’s let Rush himself explain the Limbaugh Rule. Here’s a brief excerpt from Rush’s September 14, 2010 show, the Rule itself in bold print:

It is most unfortunate what is going on because in my mind, you know, I was telling you about this dinner party I went to on Saturday night where the host threw out the question: “On a scale of one to ten, ten meaning the country’s finished, one meaning, hey, we’re in fat city, where do you think the country is?” And a prominent person said, “I think we’re at an eight.” I was telling the story to other people, who asked me, “What did you say?” I said, “Well, a six or seven,” but I wanted to focus on a different aspect of this, and that is, how to arrest and how to stop this.

My point was that we’ve never had, never, ever — I mean we’ve got the Democrats ready to run off a cliff. We have got liberalism and socialism set up to be destroyed, and the frustrating thing is that half the Republicans in this country don’t see it, or they’re afraid of it, or they don’t want to go there, and that’s the thing that bothers me about it. We still have people who want to compromise with these people! We still have people who want to walk across the aisle and be reasonable and get along with them.

We still have people who think that professional Washington politicians are the way to fix this, and clearly it isn’t. Some of these people are citing the Buckley Rule. Now, I can honestly say that I know what the Buckley Rule is. I can honestly say I knew William F. Buckley and Buckley was a friend of mine. The Buckley Rule is, ostensibly, that you vote for the most electable conservative option against a Democrat in November. You vote for the Republican, slash, conservative who can win. To me, this requires clairvoyance….

Well, it’s time, ladies and gentlemen, for the Limbaugh Rule to supplant and replace the Buckley Rule, because the Buckley Rule requires clairvoyance.

Why not go for it? The stakes dictate it, do they not?

Here’s the Limbaugh Rule: In an election year when voters are fed up with liberalism and socialism, when voters are clearly frightened of where the hell the country is headed, vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary, period. 


The day Rush announced the Limbaugh Rule, the Delaware GOP Senate primary was being decided. It featured, of course, Congressman and former governor Mike Castle against Tea Party favorite Christine O’Donnell. Ms. O’Donnell won in an upset — and yes, she lost in November.

But without being formally named up until that September 14th, the Limbaugh Rule was effectively already in play elsewhere in 2010. Notably, in Florida and Kentucky, where Marco Rubio and Rand Paul both upended seriously major GOP Establishment figures against long odds — with various Republicans in each state essentially invoking the Buckley Rule even when unnamed. In Florida the Buckley Rule favorite was GOP Governor Charlie Crist, in Kentucky, Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

And so it went across the country that fall of 2010, with the Limbaugh Rule, publicly annunciated or not, re-shaping American politics.

Let us not forget Mark Levin here, either. It was he who first began to give an unknown Marco Rubio exposure on talk radio. Ditto O’Donnell, ditto Sharron Angle in Nevada, a practice of singling out conservative candidates that he has continued in 2012. Others have as well. And, of course, on both radio and television Sean Hannity was giving these conservative underdogs exposure.

Oh, yes. There was that small thing called the Tea Party. Before there was a Limbaugh Rule publicly formulated, there was a Limbaugh Rule in action — and it was and is called the Tea Party

The central point here is that in the evolving determination to, in Rush’s words, “vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary, period,” whether the resulting conservative candidate won or lost, a determined effort to stop the Liberal/socialist/Obama agenda in its tracks was moving forward. Big Time.

In fact, while Barack Obama deserves considerable credit for energizing and mobilizing the electoral power of the conservative base (as here in New York when Republican Bob Turner took Anthony Weiner’s House seat) as perhaps no one else since Ronald Reagan, in fact the real drama here is to be found in another part of Rush’s monologue — this part:

My point was that we’ve never had, never, ever — I mean we’ve got the Democrats ready to run off a cliff. We have got liberalism and socialism set up to be destroyed…

Stop here a minute.

Rush is right — but why is he right?


In one of the biggest ironies of American history, the nation’s first black president — a devout Leftist — has effectively been left holding the bag by generations of white Liberals. As the actual final end game of Liberalism plays out, one Liberal program or government intervention after another has either failed outright or teeters on the brink of disaster. To rephrase Obama’s onetime pastor the Reverend Jeremiah Wright:

Liberalism’s chickens have come home to roost.

Three Liberal programs in particular are wreaking havoc on the U.S. economy:

  • Fannie Mae — Created by FDR in 1938, it is credited with blowing up the entire U.S. economy 70 years later in 2008. Millions lost their homes, their jobs and their investments.
  • Social Security — Entitlement created by FDR in 1935, the program is teetering on the edge of insolvency, according to a report issued by Social Security Trustees in April of 2012.
  • Medicare — Entitlement created by Lyndon Johnson in 1965, it is expected — again according to its trustees — to be insolvent by 2024.

In the Obama era, of course, there are two gems of Liberalism that have attracted considerable anger — the “stimulus” (or, in Rush’s apt words, the “porkulus”), the laughably titled “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.”

Our friend James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal directs attention to the Obama predictions of where unemployment would be were the “stimulus” adopted. James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute has nicely recalled all of this using — gasp! — the original documents issued from Team Obama as they geared up to sell the stimulus in 2009.

The Obamaites insisted the stimulus would currently — at this very moment in 2012 — have Americans at an unemployment rate of 5.7%. In fact, as we now know, the rate is 8.2% — and on the rise.

Then, but of course, there is Obamacare. The attacks on religious liberty, the death panels, the still rising costs that were supposed to not rise, the business of keeping the same doctor — already not the case — the exceptions for this or that set of political pals.

Let’s not forget the Obama appointees on the National Labor Relations Board who tried to bar Boeing from building a plant in South Carolina as a sop to union allies.

There’s more…much more.

In fact, there are all manner of Liberal nostrums out there that have nothing to do with Obama per se.

  • New York: Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban “the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, movie theaters and street carts.”
  • New Jersey: The state — isn’t this the state where potential Romney running mate Chris Christie is governor? — is now going to fine drivers if — buckle in — the driver has a pet in the car not wearing a seat belt. Question: Does this apply to goldfish? Turtles? Ferrets? Gerbils? Just asking.
  • North Carolina: A state inspector tells a grade school child the lunch the child’s mother prepared — a turkey and cheese sandwich, potato chips, a banana and apple juice — doesn’t meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards. The lunch was replaced — with chicken nuggets. All class lunches were being inspected that day.
  • Massachusetts: The state, which Obama aide David Axelrod proclaimed as “Obama Country” in a recent visit, bans school bake sales. Outraged parents get the bill overturned.

And let’s not forget the banning of incandescent light bulbs — by the Bush administration!

It is precisely this kind of thing — what our own Bob Tyrrell calls “Stealth Socialism” in his book The Death of Liberalism that has so infuriated millions of Americans.

So with the governmental effects of all these Liberal ideas either turning one by one into disaster — or infuriating Americans who once never thought twice about buying a Big Drink at the movies, taking the family pet for a ride in the car, sending their child off to school with a turkey sandwich and selling cupcakes as a school fundraiser — what is the political result?

The Limbaugh Rule.

The answer millions of Americans have begun to use as a weapon to finally stop all of this. They may or may not know it by that name — but that Americans are increasingly turning to the most conservative candidate over a moderate Republican, much less a Liberal Democrat — is now patently obvious.

And they are doing it for a quite specific reason.

That reason: they are in search of candidates who will forcefully reject the single, driving Liberal notion that government knows best — as expressed in the form of a steadily expanding government and resulting lack of individual freedom, not to mention the now $15 trillion in debt.

In the doing of this, the Tea Party spontaneously burst into action. Arguments were articulated and honed. Books on conservative principles virtually inhaled. Rallies were held. The Internet skillfully employed. Voters were organized. And state by state, district after district, sometimes gradually and sometimes with astonishing speed, the old order of GOP Establishment moderates — damaged already over the years by the triumph of Ronald Reagan and before that of Barry Goldwater — was crumbling. Politically disintegrating. Replaced by politicians and activists (the Tea Party) who brought vast fresh infusions of conservative intellectual and political new blood.

The list of political defeats inflicted by the Limbaugh Rule is long — and growing.

2010 saw GOP moderates lose primaries in Alaska, Delaware, Kentucky, Florida, and Nevada. In Pennsylvania, liberal Republican Senator Arlen Specter saw the tidal wave coming and simply left for the Democrats — who defeated Specter with an even more liberal nominee. That nominee in turn lost to conservative Pat Toomey in November. All of this upheaval within the GOP was followed by the stunning GOP resurgence in the fall election against Obama’s party.

Yes, in states like Alaska, Delaware, and Nevada, the conservative winners lost in November. But it is a huge mistake to interpret this — as some did — as a victory for GOP moderates. The Obama administration was still there, still issuing rules and regulations by the tens of thousands of pages, and demanding even higher taxes still — all to support the increasing Nanny State that was infuriating Americans by the day.

And in 2012? GOP candidates who in any fashion could be connected to even remotely having sympathy for some version of Big Government were inevitable targets for an opponent effectively invoking the Limbaugh Rule.

Nowhere was the Limbaugh Rule more evident thus far in 2012 than in the Indiana GOP Senate primary. Senator Richard Lugar, a Republican Establishment champion, fit exactly the description Rush Limbaugh had discussed in his broadcast two years earlier. Describing Republicans who were clueless to the gathering storm of frustration and anger that was spreading, Rush exclaimed in disbelief:

We still have people who want to compromise with these people! We still have people who want to walk across the aisle and be reasonable and get along with them.

This description fit Lugar to a “T.” In fact, when the Senator lost to conservative Richard Mourdock this year he himself illustrated Rush’s point exactly. Said Lugar — after the election! — of Mourdock’s views:

This is not conducive to problem solving and governance. And he [Mourdock] will find that unless he modifies his approach, he will achieve little as a legislator. Worse, he will help delay solutions that are totally beyond the capacity of partisan majorities to achieve.

That Lugar could actually say something like this, as if blissfully unaware that in doing things his way in the Senate for 30 years the country now finds itself worse off — the debt, the size of government, and all the rest — is only one indication of just how out of touch Lugar and those Republicans across the country who follow his thinking have really become. (At one point in his Senate career, Lugar was actually the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee — the very Committee whose jurisdiction includes the USDA rules for what that North Carolina child can or cannot eat for lunch.)

The Limbaugh Rule is not some talk radio rah-rah. It is in fact a succinct summation of exactly the political tide that is actually rising in real time around the country. Yes, yes, yes — Mitt Romney comes from the GOP’s moderate wing. But to capture the GOP nomination Romney had to fold his moderate tent — and is surely well aware by this point of the depth of feeling he is encountering on the Nanny State as he campaigns around the country.

Let’s go back to the point made at the beginning — that the Limbaugh Rule has in fact not been ignored by the liberal mainstream media.

No, you won’t find the MSNBC’s of the world or their broadcast comrades at the three networks or the New York Times or Washington Post citing the Limbaugh Rule. What you will see instead is something much, much more telling — the epitome of the old Winston Churchill wisdom that “the venom of a man’s enemies is a measure of his own strength.”

What, pray tell, was the entire point of the Sandra Fluke episode?

That’s right — as we reported here in detail, it was about shutting Rush up.

Removing him from the air once and for all. It was a full-fledged, pre-meditated political attack that had literally been sitting on the liberal shelf for years.

Why? Because the message of the Limbaugh Rule — while never officially framed as such until September 14, 2010 — has in fact been gaining traction over the years.

Perhaps the most sensitive nerve in all this was hit by Rush in his famous pre-Obama inaugural remark that if the new president was going to do what Rush believed he was going to try and do — then Rush hoped Obama would fail.

The hard fact now — which infuriates the Left — is that in fact Obama did not fail. He passed his stimulus, he passed Obamacare, he got his Dodd-Frank regulation bill and more. All added to the bottomless swamp of agencies and programs that have been growing like topsy since 1933 and are increasingly strangling the American economy when not poking a nose and a tentacle into your personal business.

What are we really seeing here in 2012? What are we seeing — really seeing — in all these Obama campaign attacks against a Romney dog, his wife, his wife’s horses, Bain Capital and all the rest? In a word: Desperation.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

In American political life in 2012 , Newton’s Third Law has been replaced by the Limbaugh Rule:

In an election year when voters are fed up with liberalism and socialism, when voters are clearly frightened of where the hell the country is headed, vote for the most conservative Republican in the primary, period.

And they’re not going to stop at primaries, either. There will be two candidates on the presidential ballot in November. Barack Obama and someone more conservative.

But for all those thousands of election rules in fifty states, there will be one rule governing this election. One rule — and one rule only.

The rule that is changing America in 2012.

The Limbaugh Rule.

Jeffrey Lord
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Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Ronald Reagan and Jack Kemp. An author and former CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at His new book, Swamp Wars: Donald Trump and The New American Populism vs. The Old Order, is now out from Bombardier Books.
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