At the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), we sit down with Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) to discuss Rush Limbaugh’s legacy and why he believes all conservatives must “be willing to fight” as aggressively as the left.
Jan Jekielek: We’re here with Congressman Ralph Norman at CPAC. Great to have you on the show. You were just telling me that you read The Epoch Times in your office and in your district.
Rep. Ralph Norman: Jan, I see Republicans all day long. In caucus, we get together. We walk by the offices. The Epoch Times is being read by far more people than you would think. You tell them the facts. That’s rare in newspapers today. I can’t tell you the positive impact that you’re having because it is expanding.
Mr. Jekielek: I’m thrilled to hear that. You asked for this minute of silence for Rush Limbaugh. I’m wondering if you could tell me a little bit about the significance of Rush Limbaugh and what he meant for you and other conservatives?
Rep. Norman: Rush Limbaugh had a following of 20 million listeners, three hours a day, five days a week, and he just identified with the American people. He identified with “We the People.” You don’t have that kind of following unless you have a message, and it’s not a message that everybody agreed with, but it was a message that emphasized the greatness of America. He emphasized the Constitution that has kept this country intact for the last 230 years. He was somebody that you grew to love and he had a loyalty with his following.
When he passed, I thought what better opportunity in the people’s House to have 30 seconds of silence. I asked for unanimous consent, and Jerry Nadler objected. I asked for a point of personal privilege from the speaker, and she objected. That didn’t really surprise me, but it shows you how they’re scared of a man that’s telling the American story, did tell the American story for years, and his legacy will continue because what he said, people identified with.
It’s like President Trump. What President Trump did for this country, he put America first. Rush Limbaugh put America first. A moment of silence, is that too much to ask for a body? There’s no shame with the Left now. I’m going to put it up again and let them object to it.
Mr. Jekielek: Also, briefly, you said Rush Limbaugh was America First. What would you say is his legacy?
Rep. Norman: His legacy is promoting freedom. His legacy is supporting the rights of the individual, that you could be fired five times as he was, that you could not get a college education which he did not have, but that he followed his passions. He was somebody who found what they wanted to do.
He often said on the air, if you love what you do and if it’s your passion, you’ll never go to work a day in your life. It was fun for him, even with cancer. He was sick, he was getting chemotherapy, but he was, as Sean Hannity said, dying to get back on the air until he died. It’s such a tribute. We won’t see the likes of another Rush Limbaugh, but I think his legacy and what he stood for is what CPAC is all about—the rights of the individual.
Mr. Jekielek: This is obviously a topic [that is] very, very important to you. When we were talking offline, you were actually talking about your deep concern of what the Constitution is going to mean in five, ten years from now if the current trajectory continues. Tell me about this.
Rep. Norman: If we let the Left continue their radical agenda, we’re going to allow it to be taught in K-12 and into the colleges. [Try to] find a college campus now that will allow conservative thought, and by conservative thought, just two points of view. Look at what mass media is doing, look at what big tech is doing. They have a monopoly. They’re protected under [Section] 230 [of the federal Communications Decency] Act, we’ve got to somehow make them accountable through liability. They shouldn’t have liability protection.
We’re going to lose our Republic, and I feel strongly that we’re going to have to get our voice back. Just because we get an article written about us or big tech censors us, which I experienced with the Frontline Doctors on hydroxychloroquine—we’ve got to take a stand. We’ve got to point it out for what it is, which is socialism. It’s socialism with the government-run health care, and government-run businesses.
I’m from the private sector. I’m a real estate developer. The government should work for us, not vice versa. Government exists to provide equal opportunity, but not equal outcome, and that’s what’s missing in the narrative today.
Mr. Jekielek: The Constitution has provided a lot of protection against this, you’re describing it as government overreach or government dominance. Where do you see the Constitution being encroached on right now?
Rep. Norman: Take the last election. Per the Constitution, you’re supposed to go through the state legislature to change the election. You can’t go through a judge, you can’t go through an attorney general—you got to get it voted on through the state legislature. They did not do that.
They did everything under the guise of COVID—mass mailings, no verification of signatures, the secretary of state in Georgia mailed out ballots to everybody, duplication. They just didn’t have time to prove it, because the elections should have ended on November 3.
How did Florida get it right with 19 million people? How did Texas get it right? We just found out Claudia Tenney won her election in New York. This is February, this is the last part of February. This president was sworn in on [January 20]. So they changed the election laws as an example of a violation of the Constitution, Article I, Section 2. I think we’re going to end up in the courts.
The Left has had the backing and the funding to file lawsuit after lawsuit. We’ve got to get the same attitude and learn how to fight, because it’s like your health—once we lose our freedoms, it’s hard to get [them] back. You vote your way in and you shoot your way out, and I hate to see us become another Venezuela.
Mr. Jekielek: What freedoms do you see most imminently in danger?
Rep. Norman: Freedom of speech. Freedom of speech. Big tech and media want to tell us what to believe, and how dangerous is it not to have all the facts? How dangerous is that—to not have all the facts? That’s what you see in communist countries. China, the treatment of the Uyghurs—they let [this] information out [when] the elite says it ought to be exposed. We got to fight that.
This is a country that exists on ideas. It exists on people starting small families, starting businesses. It exists on being the best that you can be and doing what your God-given talent is. We are simply losing that and we’re letting the Left take it over under the theme of the greater good, it’s the taking of our liberties one step at a time. The Second Amendment, this president is intent on taking our Second Amendment away through lawsuits on manufacturers of guns. Guns never shot anybody by themselves—it takes people.
I’m concerned now for my children and grandchildren, and everybody ought to be, because the things that made this country great were not government. The only thing the government can spend is what money it takes from us.
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me then, you mentioned a few of them already. What are the things that really make America great in your mind, or have made America great, traditionally.
Rep. Norman: What makes America great is individualism, ingenuity, and using your God-given talents. Government is not all things to all people. The states created the federal government, the federal government did not create the states. We’ve got it reversed. Take CPAC, if they tried to have it in a lot of other states, it would’ve been shut down. We couldn’t have it in Washington.
Government is telling you where you can go. Government is telling that child he can’t go back to school through the labor unions. Government is keeping businesses shut down. The oxygen that runs businesses is [to stay] open. There’s such a thing as a calculated risk. There’s such a thing as letting us do what we were born to do and take a risk. Government is telling us that’s not going to happen.
Jan, it’s all about power. This group, Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, want power to control every aspects of our lives, and that’s what we’ve got to fight.
Mr. Jekielek: The theme of CPAC this year is America Uncancelled. Obviously, you’re thinking about freedom of speech. What else does that mean to you?
Rep. Norman: It just means We the People. The beginning of everything in this country has begun with We the People. I just hate that we’re slowly, under the mantle that the Left uses of a greater good, tearing apart our Constitution. Look who’s leading the Left now.
We’re a nation of laws. That’s another big one that they’re trying to do away with. They’re doing it through elimination of the Second Amendment, and through—How crazy is defunding the police? How insane is that? They’re somehow getting the buy-ins of the big corporations.
I’m a member of the Freedom Caucus—conservatives. We’re growing in number. We went to a hotel, after many hotels turned us down because we were conservatives. We were giving them business, giving them revenue, and they turned us down.
What am I doing? I’m writing to the president of Marriott. They turned us down. Marriott, which is a great company. Our company bills Marriott. We used to. I’m writing to them, and I’m writing to the board of directors saying, “Is this what you really want?”
Things like that are eroding our rights and the sad part about it, Jan, they’re doing it through the fear factor. They’re doing it through a fear factor. Look at the 22 cities that have been destroyed, look at the businesses. Where’s the outrage over that? Where’s the outrage over the people who died?
Mr. Jekielek: Tell me about this fear factor. What do you mean exactly when you say that?
Rep. Norman: Fear factor—If you go to the Capitol today, it’s basically shut down. We’ve got ten foot high fences with barbed wire. Members of Congress, under the direction of Speaker Pelosi, are having to be searched every time we vote. We have to go in as if we’re the criminal. Her message is that [they’re in danger from] the Republicans. It’s just a fear factor.
The mask—I’ve been vaccinated, I’ve got the antibodies, I can’t give it to anybody. How much do we know from January 2020 till February 2021, a lot—plus vaccinations through Operation Warp Speed. I fully expect the mask, double mask, will be on for the foreseeable future. We’ll have other pandemics that affect this country that we’ll have to deal with, and they’ll exploit it. Again, it’s up to us to kick back.
Mr. Jekielek: In this time when all these different parts, the administration and Congress is held by the Democrats, what can Republicans and more specifically, conservatives, do in this situation?
Rep. Norman: We’ve got to be willing to fight. We got to be bold. Being lukewarm is not going to get it now—the Left is so far radicalized. We’ve got to on a local level go to that school board meeting and say, put our children back in school. Luckily, in South Carolina, we’ve got a balanced budget amendment, our governor did not shut us down. But North Carolina, the state that’s adjacent to us, it was shut down. I know people there.
Contact them. Write a letter, get a group, and go meet with public officials and say, “No new taxes, we want tax cuts. No new bailouts for governments.” Governments have been shut down anyway, [but] teachers have still gotten paychecks. The union bosses still get a paycheck. We as politicians still get a paycheck. Let’s put the people first. Let the businesses operate and let’s get this country back on a sound, We the People basis. That’s my hope and prayer. The only way we’re going to do it is get active.
Mr. Jekielek: So basically, you’re calling out to the grassroots here.
Rep. Norman: Grassroots, because that’s what they can do. They can go to their Sheriff’s Department as I’m doing—we want to get you a pay raise. The average policeman on the street makes $35,000. Is it too much to ask that they get the same pay raise as in South Carolina? They gave [a pay increase to] judges and solicitors who have a lot higher base pay. Is it too much to ask for our police officers to get a pay increase? No.
We’re doing that and we’re getting it through groups getting together and just in a nice way—not throwing anything or shouting, saying, “Why is this?’ To that mom who’s upset about the curriculum that’s taught to their child—call the principal, call the teacher, and get a group of people who are upset and say, “Why is this in my curriculum? You explain this to me.” It’s just accountability. What’s the harm in that? How can that hurt? It can only help.
Mr. Jekielek: Any final thoughts?
Rep. Norman: I just appreciate that what you do is now more important than ever. The Epoch Times reports facts, let’s us decide. It’s important for us to get our voice back and take the consequences of that negative publicity, of the negative articles because that’s what the Founders would do.
Mr. Jekielek: Congressman Norman, such a pleasure to speak with you.
Rep. Norman: Jan, thank you. Appreciate what you’re doing.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.