The first time I remember hearing Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, I was in high school. It was 1991, and I was in the district office of Rep. Jim Traficant (D-Ohio), for whom I’d earned the dubious honor of interning.
Traficant was already infamous both for his public persona, which tended toward the eccentric, and his sketchy background. Eventually, his corruption would lead him to be one of the two members of the House expelled by that body since the Civil War. But his constituents loved him. They loved his panache, and they loved his irreverence. But this was Youngstown, epicenter of the Rust Belt politically, and they loved that he was unabashed in fighting for them, whatever else he was doing on the side. In many ways, Traficant’s political pitch was the same one that President Donald Trump would use three decades later, to equivalent success.
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