What to do when your culture war is running short of issues? If you’re Rush Limbaugh, you dig deep down into your bag of resentments (largely stemming from protruding projections) until you find the simmering issue of self-loathing that you’ve never been able to get control over and you throw that at your opponent.
For Rush Limbaugh, this naturally takes us to food. He’s already run through the all women are sluts because he wants to see women post online videos of themselves having sex and the gays are responsible for ruining his many marriages, so yeah, now it’s food. According to Rush Limbaugh, conservatives don’t try to impose their moral beliefs on others, while liberals want to control what everyone else eats, just like they want to kill his radio show.
Buckle up courtesy of Media Matters:
Rush said,”When I think of organic food, I think of vegetarians. I think of militant vegetarians. Now, a liberal vegetarian is not content to just eat his vegetables. You have to, too. A conservative vegetarian will eat his vegetables and leave you alone. A liberal vegetarian will eat his and then demand that you only eat vegetables, too. And this is one of the big differences between liberals and conservatives across the board — whatever it is, whatever the left-right issue is.”
Completely missing the irony, Rush attacks liberals for being jerks over their moral beliefs, “There’s a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous,’ says author Kendall Eskine, assistant professor of the department of psychological sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans.”
You don’t say? Self-righteous, eh? Like calling women sluts for using birth control?
Rush then explains that conservatives don’t care if liberals go to church or not. He does this as if he is unaware that conservatives are legislating their morality all over this country. “If a conservative doesn’t believe in God, he doesn’t go to church. Period. He doesn’t tell you that you that you have to stop believing in God. Conservative doesn’t chide you for going to church. A conservative doesn’t call a member of Congress and make church illegal.”
Rush’s argument is that a conservative organic food nut doesn’t care what YOU eat. Rush offers no proof of this, but if we broaden out the issue, it’s hard to find any indication that he is accurate.
After all, conservatives care who marries whom, they care what birth control we use, they care what faith we choose, they want to force us to look at an unnecessary trans vaginal ultrasound — they care about pretty much all of the very personal decisions in our lives. They want us to do it their way, and they’re so militant about it that they force laws mandating exactly what the rest of us can and can not do, and often cite the Bible as their justification.
When Michelle Obama started her healthy food initiative, the conservatives freaked out. Sarah Palin even devoted time in her reality TV show to airing her Obama resentment, declaring that she wouldn’t be told what to eat. It seems that even when studies prove that certain foods/chemicals are bad for us, conservatives see this intellectual exercise as fodder for ever-growing resentment, like angry children rebelling against their parents. “You don’t get to tell me what I can eat!”
Organic food became a cause precisely because people wanted an option to the chemical poisons that a defunded FDA allows in our food. The fact that the meat and agri-industry in America has become a foray into additives, fillers, and on bad days, life threatening bacteria hot houses is of no concern to Rush Limbaugh. Meat is just another reason to hate his parents (the liberals).
Kill or be killed! That’s the conservative mantra.
Where are the militant liberals passing food laws mandating that conservatives can’t eat meat? Nowhere. Meanwhile, conservatives are busy running every aspect of our personal lives except food. Food is the one area conservatives really seem to embrace “liberty.” They want the freedom for agri-business to poison Americans and by gosh, they are going to fight for it.
Conservatives have long fought to defund the FDA, hating on it as they hate Social Security. Reagan himself declared the FDA was “needlessly killing Americans.” Newt Gingrich, who led a successful move to privatize some of the agency, said the FDA was the number one job-killer in America (and here you thought that title belonged to Republicans). Bush staffed the FDA with business leaders whose goals were to unregulate the various sectors they oversaw.
The Reagan led defunding of the FDA blossomed under Bush, until conservatives were able to point to the ineffectiveness of the agency they had starved as proof that government doesn’t work. Think defunded and dis-empowered FEMA during Katrina.
Jonathan Cohn wrote for the New Republic:
Prior to the 1980s, agencies like the FDA had authority to finalize regulations on their own. Reagan changed that, forcing agencies to submit all regulations to the Office of Management and Budget, which cast a more skeptical eye on anything that would require the government or business to spend more money. The regulatory process slowed down and, in many cases, the people in charge of it became more skittish…
Like Reagan, Bush was skeptical of government interference in the market. And, like Reagan, he appointed officials sympathetic to businesses that wanted to avoid the cost of complying with new federal rules.
The real truth is that government agencies like the FDA are needed in order to protect the common good of the people from the greed of business. Since the agency has been set up for failure by conservatives, said failure can hardly be used as justification that it doesn’t work.
The Obama administration was able to push their Food Safety Act before Christmas of 2010 with some bi-partisan support. The pre-Tea Party House and the Senate passed the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the President signed it into law on January 4, right before the Tea Party took office. Of course, this law is only as good as the funding for it, and who does the funding? That’s right. Your Tea Party controlled House.
Nothing else has worked, so Rush is going to make meat a part of the culture war. Sure, there are more meat-eaters than non-meat eaters, so this seems like a safe ‘big tent’ bet. But if we reframed this discussion to ask how many Americans want to be poisoned by an unregulated meat industry, I’m betting that big tent would shrink.
You want salmonella and e-coli? Keep voting Republican. When they talk about starving the beast, this is what they mean. Less federal oversight and regulation, and that translates directly to poisoned food.
Rush’s tirade against organic food is really all about him and his resentment over his advertisers abandoning him, as he wrapped up with this telling tidbit, “If a conservative doesn’t like a radio show, he changes the channel. Liberals, if they don’t like a radio show, demand that the show be shut down. And if the show isn’t voluntarily shut down, then they try other avenues to get the show shut down.”
Rush went from blaming liberals for allegedly legislating what conservatives can eat (no meat!) to proof that liberals want everyone to think like they do because Rush’s show is being boycotted. That’s a whole lotta Rush resentment for a Monday.