Left Turn

One man’s journey from dittohead to Democrat.

Left Turn

If you’ve ever wondered what goes on inside the mind of a Rush Limbaugh fan, let us introduce you to Jim Derych. For more than a decade Derych was a loyal, self-assured Limbaugh follower—a so-called dittohead—who uncritically accepted the ideas Rush advocated on his syndicated national radio program. But by the time George W. Bush took office in 2001, Derych found himself questioning the wisdom of Rush’s ideology, ultimately concluding that Limbaugh’s social, economic and political principles sounded better in theory than they worked in practice. In 2004, Derych deserted Limbaugh and the Republicans and switched his allegiance to the Democratic Party.

Yet Derych couldn’t find the words to break the news of his political conversion to his father—an “unreachable” hardcore dittohead—so he organized his thoughts in writing, using the popular blog Daily KOS as a public forum. Derych’s insights into the dittohead mindset fascinated readers, and before long a publisher invited him to produce a full-length book—“Confessions of a Former Dittohead” (Ig Publishing). With “Confessions…” developing into an underground hit, Failure sat down with Derych to discuss Limbaugh, the right-wing media, and the prospects for converting other dittoheads.

What is the definition of a dittohead?
A dittohead is a self-describing term for a fan of the Rush Limbaugh Show. To a fan there is no negative connotation at all.

It certainly sounds derogatory.
It does, but it’s not. Nothing ruins a good derogatory term like pride [laughs]. The word dates back to the early days of the show when callers would begin by saying, “I’m so glad to hear someone on the radio who is articulating the conservative position and believes the same thing I do.” At one point, someone let loose with this huge, flowery praise and then the next caller got on the air and said, “What that last caller said…. Ditto.” That’s how the term dittohead was born.

It’s unfortunate—at least it should be unfortunate to the dittohead nation—that it equates with mindlessly parroting whatever Rush says. If you ask a dittohead, “Why are you so proud that you mindlessly parrot Rush?” a lot of them will claim to disagree with him about a bunch of different issues. But when you say, “Like what?” they say, “I can’t think of anything right now, but I’m sure there are things I disagree about.”

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