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Why Do People Listen to Rush Limbaugh?

AlterNet readers had a lot to say about a recent article explaining the popularity of Rush Limbaugh.

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kegbot1 agrees that we should well remember what talented rabble-rousers often represent:

No matter how much people tried to make America a bastion of liberty and freedom (and succeeded for the most part, albeit in fits and starts) there has, almost from the beginning, been a strong streak of fascism lurking just below the surface in our society.

I think, if we engage in pop psychology, that there are, in any population, a percentage of people with authoritarian/strong-father personalities. They seek the comfort and security of a strict order where everyone is made to behave under an enforced set of social and legal rules. Throw conservative Christianity in that mix (perfectly constructed for that kind of mind), and this is what you get.

Zooeyhall has another explanation for Limbaugh’s popularity:

I live in Nebraska, and this horrible man's voice is blaring from almost every radio you hear. A sad commentary on the people in my state.

I would just like to add one other observation. This thoroughly unpleasant man is not just a "steam valve" for so many others' frustration. He is also a role model for many others out there -- reaffirming their own ruthlessness and harshness. I see it in so many managers, CEOs and others. This is the worst legacy of the guy.

frantic1971 brings up an intelligent solution:

We need to offer a viable alternative to Mr. Limbaugh. Rather than just sputtering -- as many posters here -- that his listeners are "idiots," "racists," "hicks," "right-wingers," etc.

I know many people who listen to him, and these people are not evil. They are just ordinary folks who are concerned about their jobs and their precarious economic situation. So when when Rush rants against illegal aliens, they are going to agree with him ...

Like it or not, the stark fact is that Limbaugh has definitely had success, and that millions of people listen to him faithfully. And I submit that this is due almost as much to a failure of the Left as it is to whatever dubious "gifts" that Rush has. We (Progressives) cannot just fall back on condemning all these people with smears and our own prejudices. Somehow we need to recognize why it is that the right-wing radio and Web sites are attracting so many. We need to offer an alternative.

Tana Ganeva is an assistant editor at AlterNet.

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