I admit that I have never been a Glenn Beck fan. I think his grasp on history is tenuous and I’ll never forgive him for his attacks on Theodore Roosevelt. I find his use of the chalkboard extremely condescending, especially from someone who couldn’t sit through a single college class when I’ve sat through 13 years worth. And I’ve never really felt he’s provided a great number of insights on politics, unlike his contemporaries. I’ve been a Rush Limbaugh fan since 1991, when I started listening to him when I was 14. I’ve listened to most of the conservative talkers over the years, and Rush is still my favorite. I’m not a Hannity fan because he repeats himself so much, if you’ve heard his show once you’ve heard it every day. Mark Levin is okay, although I don’t like the yelling. I give him the most credit because he’s put his money where his mouth is and actually served in government. Beck I dislike more than the rest because of all of them, I think he’s earned it less. He’s not worked as hard as Hannity or Rush, he doesn’t have the experience of a Levin or a Coulter, and I have never really gotten into his show. I’ve tended to group him in the same category as Keith Olbermann and Ed Schultz – guys with political shows who got them for no apparent reason.
Because of my general dislike for Beck, I guess I was skeptical of the 8/28 “Restoring Honor” rally he held in D.C. over the weekend. I didn’t attend the rally, but I took Nick and KayAnn out to Mount Vernon on Friday and got slammed with a bunch of folks from the rally in town a day early. For the most part, they were all nice people and they were from all across the union. I have to give Beck credit – he brought a lot of people to D.C. for this event.
I’ve watched Youtube videos of the rally and the speeches given and I have to admit that I was underwhelmed. I was hoping this rally would be more of a Tea Party style rally, but Beck seems to have turned this into a quasi-religious revival than anything else. That, in and of itself, bothers me, as I believe that when Republicans and conservatives wrap themselves in the mantle of Christianity, we scare off a lot of voters who – rightfully so - do not like to see religion and politics mix in an overt way.
Make no mistake, I’m not one of these ridiculously strict “no religion in public life” types of people. I like saying “under God” in the pledge, and I like the references to deity we make in a variety of political settings. And I do like to see my public officials displaying a faith in a higher power than themselves. But, as many can attest to, I have always had a problem when those of us who are right of center have tried to legislate our morality, especially if we base the motivation of our legislation on some kind of scriptural impetus. And I believe that the attempts of some on the right to paint the conservative movement and the Republican party as the party of Christianity do us a disservice – while I believe that religious faith is critical to the fabric of our country and helps center the moral compass of individuals, I don’t believe it is in the party’s best interests to represent a single religion or religious point of view.
The overtly religious tone of the 8/28 event makes me uncomfortable. If it had been Tea Party rally, that would have been great. I saw a lot of folks in the crowd who were dressed in their colonial gear, so I know the Tea Party was well represented. If it had been a political rally – and with Sarah Palin there, the political overtones were clear – that would have been great. But when Beck is out there saying that we have “turned back to God” (I don’t think most of us have ever turned away) I get uncomfortable. And given the controversy about Obama’s faith that’s crept up recently, I hesitate to say this, but I wonder how many folks in that crowd know Beck is a mormon?
I also don’t like the whole “restoring honor” and “restoring America” line that Palin was giving out there. America doesn’t need to be restored. The core of America – the people, their belief in the Constitution and our founding republican principles, our faith in ourselves and our exceptionalism – is still out there and is still vibrant. It doesn’t need restoring because it’s always been there. I am not one of these Republicans who believes that whenever Democrats take over the country is going to hell in a handbasket, the Democrats are out to destroy the country and are actively trying, or any of that nonsense. Both parties make mistakes – we’ve made plenty – and fixing those mistakes is part and parcel of the on-going nature of our democratic experiment. There’s no reason for us to have to “restore honor” – we’ve not lost it. Sure, we’ve got folks in charge who are making a lot of bad decisions, and those bad decisions will cost them political control come November. But America is more than just who is in charge of the House of Representatives or the White House.
I’m hoping that Debbie Munoz or some of my other friends who were at the rally on Saturday can provide some greater insights as to the event, because I honestly don’t understand the point. If it was a political rally, that’s great. If it was a Tea Party rally, that’s great. If it was some kind of a religious revival, that’s fine, but I don’t like the political overtones. If it was some kind of a mix, that also bothers me. Maybe it was just a big publicity stunt for Beck’s show. I don’t know. But I do know that my opinion on Beck has not changed after this event and I’m still skeptical of anything he’s involved in.
What was the takeaway for the folks who attended the rally? What was Beck’s message? What’s going to be the result? I don’t know, and I hope my friends who were there can give us some feedback on it.