People & Places

Five good reasons that Sacramento should be the conservative movement’s Mecca

Rush Limbaugh

Rush Limbaugh

Bush conservatives and other Republicans like to point to Texas and the Southern states for their pivotal moments in American history. California gets short shrift, and Sacramento seems little more than an afterthought. But there are at least five good reasons to make Sacramento a shrine, a tourist destination—indeed, a Mecca—for right-thinking pilgrims across America.

First, Ronald Reagan: Before he became America’s 40th president, Reagan, who was born in Illinois and found success in Hollywood as an actor, began his political career right here in Sacramento as California’s 33rd governor. One only has to look to the long week of mourning following his death earlier this year to ascertain that this was no ordinary president.

Second, Rush Limbaugh: When this native of Cape Girardeau, Mo., showed up at local AM talker KFBK 1530 in 1984, he was merely another disk jockey bouncing around the country at the peripheries of the radio business. In his four-year stint at KFBK, Limbaugh morphed into the voice of modern conservatism, and by the 1990s, he had become a national radio phenomenon, spawning a host of imitators. Would there be a Sean Hannity or a Bill O’Reilly—nay, a Fox News network—without Limbaugh? Certainly not.

Third, Anthony Kennedy: The Supreme Court justice, who was born and raised in Sacramento, was the swing vote in the December 2000 ruling that put George W. Bush into office. Yes, Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia and Sandra Day O’Connor also cast affirming votes, but it was Curtis Park native Kennedy who was the deciding factor.

Fourth, Thomas Kinkade: No one evokes the images of Reagan’s America as the storied “city on a hill” as well as the trademarked Painter of Light, who was born in Sacramento in 1958. Kinkade may have grown up in nearby Placerville, but the cottages in his paintings, at least to anyone who has spent time walking around the Land Park area south of the Tower Theatre, will look eerily familiar.

And, last but not least, Lee Greenwood: Should theocratic conservatives like Jerry Falwell finally succeed in transforming America into something out of a Margaret Atwood novel, the reborn country may start shopping for a new national anthem to replace Francis Scott Key’s “Star Spangled Banner.” Elk Grove native turned country singer Greenwood’s signature song “God Bless the USA” would be the perfect answer for a post-democratic America’s new musical identity. Just imagine it sung to open the next Kings game.

If not for Sacramento’s contributions, the modern conservative movement may well have remained a regional phenomenon, mired in the American South. Sacramento gave it the tools to go national. And it’s high time that conservatives gave our fair city its rightful due—along with their tourist dollars. But where to build that shrine?