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Monday, Feb. 1, 2016

Speaking the truth

When will it be morning in America again?

Many admire he says things other people are afraid to say.

The conventional wisdom was that his popularity would fizzle, but instead, it has sizzled.

He’s just a showman, they say. He’s been called an entertainer, and criticized as not being a politician. He’s not spent any time volunteering for political campaigns, walking neighborhoods, door-to-door or spent much time at all in Washington, D.C. or pandering to the political class or establishment politics.

In fact, they said he is taking full advantage of the lack of leadership in the GOP, and having a little fun at his fellow Republicans’ expense.

He’s been viewed as a growing problem for the Republican Party and a serious liability that continues to damage the GOP brand. He’s even been called “incendiary” and “ugly” by the chairman of the Republican National Committee.

Many dyed-in-the-wool conservatives feel he has become a clown and a laughingstock to the general public.

They said he’s not concerned about being correct, as much as he is about being loud, and that therefore, he’s just not credible.

As one writer put it, “I think the problem is the Republican leaders and the other candidates, don’t have the courage to say what they say in quiet, which [is] they think he is a buffoon … [t]hey think he is like a clown coming out of a small car at a circus. It’s great he is entertaining and all that. But nobody takes him seriously.”

Many cringe when he said what he said about the issues, and conservative supporters become almost apologetic to their “more enlightened” family and friends, to excuse his comments. They almost always follow-up nervously, and dramatically, with the reminder that, “He just cares so much about this country, and wants to see it great again.”

But for others his success – and his millions of dollars – simply has not translated into any kind of respect, deference or validation for his positions on the issues facing our country.

And while many of you may think you know exactly who we’re talking about here, the rest of you think we’re talking about Donald Trump – but we’re not.

In fact, every comment, which has been recited above, has been said, or written about, Rush Limbaugh.

Yes, Limbaugh. And yet it is also being said, almost verbatim, about Trump, as well.

Even with such criticism of Limbaugh, and after almost 25 years of people demonizing him, 20 million Americans still tune in every day to listen to Limbaugh, and his message.

Many said it’s because he lifts the spirit of the average conservative American, who feels our country’s best days are slipping behind us, and that the American dream no longer exists.

Like Trump, and with pep-talk enthusiasm, many said Limbaugh makes his listeners believe that America is still an exceptional nation, that it’s best days are still ahead, and that Americans are capable of doing the extraordinary, when it comes to their own personal achievement.

And like Trump, Limbaugh may not be an expert on foreign diplomacy, agricultural subsidies or military strategy, but his activism produces public action because his message inspires.

His listeners also pay attention to what’s going on – even as voter turnout numbers continue to plummet across the country.

His message is not unlike the one from Ted Cruz, who explained how his father fled from Cuba and arrived in the United States penniless with $100 sewn into his underwear, and he was grateful to God that some well-meaning liberal didn’t come put his arm around his father and say, “Let me take care of you.”

Rush’s message is along the same lines of the famous Zig Ziglar who once said, “Building a better you is the first step to building a better America.”

You see, the message of Cruz, Trump, Ziglar or Limbaugh is much larger than these men, their fame or fortune: it’s about we, the people, and realizing our greatest and best potential comes from within us, granted by God – not from what some government bureaucrat decides is best for us.

This message is why Limbaugh now has 20 million listeners a day, and why Trump continues to lead in the polls.

Yes, maybe the message can be said better, or more nicely.

After all, the Bible says, “Speak the truth, but do it in love.”

But the popularity of Trump’s message is not primarily because of Trump. It never has been, and it never will be.

Like Limbaugh’s nearly 30 years on the radio, Trump’s message will continue to resonate this year with millions of Americans – not because of his showmanship or his knowing the art of the deal, but because it’s a message we already know to be true: We can do more for ourselves than we think is possible, and that there is greatness within all of us.

While many may get distracted by the pundits who offer their critical commentary about Trump’s presidential campaign, his credibility, consistency, integrity, his qualifications, intellect or even as they ridicule his supporters, and what damage this is all doing to the Republican Party, just remember this has all been done before – including to a man named Ronald Reagan.

Trump may not be the best politician, or the best choice for a nominee, but as conservatives, we just want it to be morning again in America. And we want a leader, whatever his name, to want it as badly as we do.

Louis R. Avallone is a Shreveport businessman and attorney. He is also a former aide to U.S. Representative Jim McCrery and editor of The Caddo Republican. His columns have appeared regularly in The Forum since 2007. Follow him on Facebook, on Twitter @louisravallone or by email at louisavallone@mac.com.


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