Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glenn Beck - Genius

I have been thinking about Glenn Beck's 8/28 rally for a while. I admit to really enjoying Glenn Beck, but in the same way that one enjoys a guilty pleasure. Even some conservatives don't see him as a tower of intellect, and of course he made all the right enemies with his Restoring Honor event at the Lincoln Memorial. I have to come to see the genius of his approach. I noticed that all of the coverage on the conservative side defended Beck's event as non-political, but the left's criticism harped on the political nature of the event. I happen to agree with the left, the event was in fact political, though not in the traditional sense, and that is Beck's genius.

His calls for piety and invocation of Judeo-Christian values undermine the premises of the left's political argument which goes something like this. "The world is very complicated, and the average person can't understand it all. In order to improve the lives of all citizens only smart and expert people can properly order society; leaving to the free choice of individuals is too messy, unpredictable and ultimately will result in societal failure. Elect us and we will invoke scientific principles to establish an earthly utopia." Sound familiar?

So how does Beck rebut this? His call for a return to faith and a belief in unchanging core principles is a direct affront to this argument. The call to faith, specifically Christian and Jewish faith, is a call to religions where each individual can know the will and principles of The Almighty through the text of his Word, without the need for experts to explain how they should order their lives. That conservatives think this apolitical is a comment on their own world view. In the Babylonian captivity, the Jews came to see the Lord as a God not of a time and place, but of all the universe and eternity who was knowable to every man through a study of his word. Jesus told his followers that the Kingdom of God was at hand, meaning that God's power could work directly in their lives and promised the Holy Spirit as a means of accessing God's will and power. Christianity has undergone continual renewal ever since, with martyrs bringing the Bible into the language of the common man, and rebellions arising when the Church strayed from Biblical principles. The common thread is the presence of God as the most important fact in one's life, who demands obedience, regardless of what governments, politicians, or the culture tell one.

Further, Beck invokes the world view of the Founding Fathers, another bulwark against the arguments of the left. Their view of man as imperfect and indeed not capable of perfection, led them to frame a constitution that set the branches of government against each other, to prevent the kind of meddling that the left so loves. The very idea of limited government is in fact anathema to the left. (You can always smoke out a lefty by asking this question, "What, if any, limits on federal power are inherent in the constitution's commerce clause?" When they start equivocating because their core belief is embarrassing to them, you've found a lefty.) The core beliefs of limited government, rights of individuals, including economic ones, and democratic principles bounded by separation of powers are the core beliefs of our founders. These are fundamental to our conception of a political framework, but they are political nonetheless.

Beck's message strikes at the very heart of the progressive movement, and this is why he is so reviled. They dare not argue his ideas, so they smear him and call his followers racist. It is a strong indication that they cannot win the open debate.

I know that not all my readers are Christians, but I would ask you to consider that there are eternal principles that can not be revoked by the dictate of government or any other human institution. I believe history is on my side in this argument.


  1. Over at Chicago Boyz, one of the bloggers made the point that Glenn Beck is working to show American Christians that they really aren't alone out there. He's trying to give them cultural confidence to combat the mockery of the secularists.