Oh, boy, are we in trouble here.
Last Saturday, radio and television talk show host Glenn Beck held an enormously large rally — some estimates put the total number of participants at nearly one million — at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. I did not watch the entire thing on television as I was feeling quite ill that day and, to be frank, found it to be about as appealing as watching paint dry.
Nonetheless, I would only be fooling myself if I did not acknowledge exactly what it was that I saw, which was the manifestation of a new, truly grassroots populist movement in American politics. It was not very difficult to see that the vast majority of the attendees at Beck’s rally were lower-middle-to-working class, more than likely from small towns or rural areas, and relatively ambivalent about the fiscal aspects of the political process. As a matter of fact, all of the speeches given at the rally were completely devoid of partisanship — which is not necessarily a bad thing — instead focused on the attendees’ (until now) silent desperation about whatever it is that is occurring on Capitol Hill with which they disagree and the idea that the United States should — in Beck’s own words — “turn back to God.”
Now, I want to make it abundantly clear that I do not believe that Beck wishes to abolish the separation of church and state. As I wrote in an article during late July, he is a self-described entertainer who “could give a flying crap” about politics. Chances are that, for him, the “Restoring Honor” rally was little more than a brilliant marketing ploy for his television program — which has experienced a steep ratings decline — as well as his radio and print media interests. Michael Harrison, the publisher of Talkers Magazine — which is essentially the Billboard of the talk radio industry — and a veteran trade journalist, does not “necessarily believe” that what Beck says is “reflective of his own personal politics.” Harrison merely sees Beck “as a performer.”
Beck’s most ardent supporters, however, do not share Harrison’s view. They honestly believe that Beck is a citizen watchdog and visionary — some even are of the opinion that he is on a mission from the Sweet Lord Almighty Himself. Needless to say, they are in a far better position to wreak havoc on the American political landscape than their “leader” is. They care not about supply-side economics or a vigorous national defense, but about waging yet another culture war — undoubtedly along the lines of Pat Buchanan’s longstanding one which ended in futility a few weeks ago. The way they see it, they are the “conservative” — what a laugh — base and they “want their country back”.
From whom, or what, though?
Right now, it seems as if non-fringe Republicans are their main targets. In South Carolina, for example, U.S. Representative Bob Inglis recently lost his primary with a dismal 29% of the vote. Why did this happen? Quite simply, because he refused to kneel down and worship at the Altar of Beck. To put things in prospective, Inglis was one of the chief anti-Clinton forces during the ex-president’s impeachment in the House of Representatives. He was about as “conservative” as one could possibly get. Strangely enough, this did not matter one iota to Beck’s True Believers. For them, Inglis was either a member of their cult — er, crusade — or not. Seeing as he had the self respect not to submit his political agenda to the whims of an Elmer Gantry-level entertainer and his band of deluded cultists — er, fans — Inglis paid the price with his career. He was either One of Them or not, and at the end of the day, he was not. I often urge my readers to browse through the unfortunately popular far-right discussion forum Free Republic in order to attain a deeper understanding of extremists like Beck’s True Believers. This thread is a prime example of how they think and perceive the world around them.
It is a sad combination of being both pathetic and scary (Did anybody else besides me notice how the FReepers’ vitriolic responses to Mehlman’s “coming out” make it seem as if they feel personally threatened by his decision? Perhaps the FReakshow is the unintended home of the Larry Craig Conservative Federation).
Even if the GOP takes control of both Houses of Congress in this November’s midterm elections — which, thankfully, is looking more and more likely to be the case — that may not be enough to satisfy the yearnings of these whackjobs.
So, what is?
My guess is that even they could not answer that question.Powered by Sidelines