Last night millions of young Super Bowl viewers were introduced to one of the most influential conservatives in modern America. And it was done with this commercial.
Rush Limbaugh is often credited with the dubious honor of bringing conservative talk radio to the masses. And it is certainly true that Rush paved the way for Hannity, O’Reilly, and other pundits by perfecting the three-hour babblefest. But the true pioneer and undisputed king of conservative radio is Paul Harvey, a man who never required three hours and 36 commercial breaks to get his message across.
From 1951, when he joined ABC News, until his death in 2009, the “largest one-man network in the world” dominated radio. His show was carried on 1,200 radio stations, 400 Armed Forces Network stations around the world, and his column appeared in 300 newspapers nationwide. (His broadcasts and newspaper columns have been reprinted in the Congressional Record more than those of any other commentator.) Despite his dominance, Harvey is often overlooked as a influence on American politics and culture even though he had millions more listeners than any other conservative on the radio (including Rush). His “Paul Harvey News and Comment” aired for 5 minutes in the morning and for 15 minutes before noon. Yet Harvey managed to say more in those 20 minutes than other hosts say in 180.
While most other conservative pundits preach to the choir, Harvey was an evangelist for the conservative perspective. His disarming folksy charm made his conservative views appear to be nothing more than good old common sense. Because of his approachable style, Harvey has probably done more to promote non-ideological conservatism than any other figure in modern America. Growing up listening to him in the 1970s and 1980s is the reason I became a conservative. I suspect many other Generation-X conservatives would say the same.
Those of us who believe in the dignity of the person, the importance of social institutions, the need for economic freedom and limited government owe an invaluable debt of gratitude to the great broadcaster. We should thank God he made Paul Harvey. And pray that the Lord soon sends us another communicator as winsome and gifted in explaining the value of virtue of freedom.