Acton Institute Powerblog

Rush Limbaugh, RIP: 6 quotations on socialism, the Founding Fathers, and life

Rush Limbaugh receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the 2020 State of the Union Address. (AP Photo / Patrick Semansky.)

The most popular conservative personality of modern times, Rush Limbaugh, passed away this morning at the age of 70 from complications due to lung cancer. While neither an intellectual nor a writer – he did not earn a college degree – his quick wit and pithy turn of phrase communicated the message of a free and virtuous society to their largest consistent audience.

His widow, Kathryn, announced Limbaugh’s death on his syndicated talk radio show this afternoon.

Rush Hudson Limbaugh III was born on January 12, 1951, in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. He entered radio at age 16 and, after a stint working for the Kansas City Royals, made his mark as a broadcasting legend. His Sacramento-based program went national in 1988, and the popularity of his conservative views and humorous delivery single-handedly revived the fading fortunes of AM radio. The ratings garnered by his television show – produced by future Fox News CEO Roger Ailes – paved the way for the success of the Fox News Channel, Fox Business, and other conservative networks. He wrote two bestselling books – The Way Things Ought to Be and See, I Told You So – before beginning his Rush Revere series of children’s history books, which were designed to teach youngsters the glory of America as founded. President Donald Trump awarded Rush Limbaugh the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the 2020 State of the Union Address on February 4, 2020.

Here are six of Rush Limbaugh’s most enduring quotations, pulled from the hundreds of hours of broadcasting he accomplished by using “talent on loan from God.”

Rush Limbaugh on clergy who accept socialism:

When the Left convinced the clergy that socialism is charity, it was over. So much of the clergy is leftist, because to them it’s all charity. “It’s taking from the haves and distributing to the have-nots. Who could oppose that? That’s what we’re here to do. That’s what the Lord said ….” Ever since the redistribution of wealth ceased being seen as confiscating people’s money, and instead was seen as charity, it was over.

(July 16, 2018)

Socialism creates a society of slaves:

Socialism is essentially where the citizens of a country give over their freedom and their individuality to the state, and the state runs and controls – maybe not owns, but runs and controls – virtually all of a society’s needs, and some wants. But the needs [are] key, because it turns everybody into a dependent-on-government-for-survival person. It strips them of self-reliance and individuality – and that’s just the opener.

(May 12, 2017)

Rush Limbaugh’s definition of capitalism:

Here’s what it is. We want an economic arrangement – We want a country, we want a society, we want a place – where people provide what other people need and want as efficiently as possible and are rewarded for how well they do it. Meaning innovators invent products, they create new services, what have you, that people end up wanting or needing and are willing to pay for, if they’re priced fairly.

And that “priced fairly” results in the innovator being rewarded with a profit so that he can continue — or she — can continue to make and provide and earn a profit and then hire other people as the business grows.

(November 3, 2020)

The greatest engine of wealth creation is the free market:

Poverty is by far the economic circumstance most people are born into and live in, in the world. Again, the U.S. is the exception. Poverty, the default condition, is the given. What needs explaining is wealth — and the greatest engine of wealth creation is the free market. The United States of America stands as proof. This is not somebody’s opinion. It is economic fact. The greatest creation of wealth, the greatest engine of wealth is the capitalism, the free market.

Government doesn’t have any money ’til it takes it from somebody, or prints it. But that’s not real money. The money government prints doesn’t have any value until it goes to the private sector, or it’s exchanged for goods and services. That is a key point, by the way. The money government prints does not have value. It says $100 on the bills, and that’s what it’ll buy once it gets into the market, but it’s the market that determines what a hundred dollars is worth, not the fact that it says $100 on the bill. … The market determines value, and the value that’s determined in the market is real. It’s not artificially set unless you live in a communist or socialist country.

(December 9, 2013)

Life is not fair:

Life is not fair by definition. Life isn’t fair. I mean, it just isn’t, and there’s no way that you can change certain aspects that make life unfair to make them fair. Life is not equal. Sometimes people earn more than others. Some people have children when other people can’t. There’s nothing unfair about that. That’s just the way it is. Unspeakable tragedies happen to some families; they don’t happen to others. Some people live a long time; some people don’t. There’s no explaining any of this. Nobody’s in charge of this. There’s no government that can change this, although we have plenty of busybodies trying to … [Life is] certainly unfair, certainly unequal but it’s not because America’s unfair. It’s not because America’s Constitution is unjust. …

None of these inequities or inequalities or unfairness means that the United States of America is unjust and immoral. None of it means that the way we’ve governed ourselves is unfair. It doesn’t mean that somebody owes you something. It doesn’t mean that you’re a victim of anything. It’s just called life.

(August 5, 2010)

The Founding Fathers’ genius created a Constitution that limits government:

The Founding Fathers designed gridlock. The Founding Fathers were highly suspicious of government because they understood human nature. And they understood the human quest for power. They were fleeing what they thought were the worst aspects of the human quest for power. They were fleeing a monarch. They were fleeing a tyrannical king in Britain. They founded something completely opposite.

They founded a government — for the first time in the history of humanity — that limited the government’s reach and power over citizens. … There isn’t a founding document, an organizing document like the U.S. Constitution anywhere which limits the government while promoting the individual American citizen’s freedom and liberty.

(November 8, 2018)

Bonus 1: Abortion triggered ‘the slow devolution’ of American culture

If you don’t have a government that is willing to stand up for life wherever it is, particularly of its own citizens – and if you have a population that is not oriented in the same direction – then you’re gonna watch the slow devolution of anything of value. If life is not worth fighting for … We all only get one, and if we’re not gonna even engage the battle to snuff out life – if we’re not even gonna be able to engage the people that want to get rid of “undesirable lives” — then what else is gonna fall by the wayside?

And that is what we’re seeing. … [A]s the fight against all kinds of crimes and injustices are suddenly given up or proclaimed normal, then we have the declining moral foundation of our society.

(January 28, 2019)

Bonus 2: Rush’s morning routine: “Every morning, I open my eyes – and I thank God that I do.”

Rush Limbaugh, requiescat in pace. May his memory be eternal.

Rev. Ben Johnson

Rev. Ben Johnson is Executive Editor of the Acton Institute's flagship journal Religion & Liberty and edits its transatlantic website.