Glenn Beck’s big rally at the Lincoln Memorial a couple days ago is the talk of the news media and the internet. Liberals are denouncing it, conservatives are walking on air, while tens of millions of people are completely mystified. And with good reason -- if Seinfeld was a show about nothing, this massive gathering was a rally about nothing. And while it may have looked impressive, in reality it shows just how impotent and adrift the mainstream conservative movement has become.
Nobody is really sure what it was even about. Beck, who is only famous because he has spent hours a day for the last decade ranting about politics, says it had nothing to do with politics, even though Sarah Palin was the keynote speaker.
It was about “restoring honor” or something, whatever that’s supposed to mean. Or it was a way of "supporting the troops," depending on which day you talked to Beck.
Then it turned into a rally to reclaim the Civil Rights movement, and give it back to the people who Beck swears pioneered the Civil Rights movement, right-wing conservatives. Yes, that’s what Beck actually claims to believe. Leave it to Glenn Beck to make white-hating black columnist Leonard Pitts look sane and reasonable.
It also has something do with honoring all those unsung heroes of the American Revolution, the numerous black Founding Fathers, whose existence (until Beck came along to set the record straight) has been covered up by “liberals” who are trying to divide us by race. Yes, Beck actually says this, too.
And Palin? She was asked what Martin Luther King would’ve thought of the rally. This was a great opportunity to tell it like it is for all of America to hear. She could’ve said something like: “Martin Luther King? I’m white – why would I give a damn what Martin Luther King would’ve thought about this rally? At any rate, he no doubt would have disapproved, as he was a radical left wing socialist whose movement was all about increasing the size and power of the federal government, and using it to take rights and resources from white people and give them to non-whites. Hell no he wouldn’t have approved, and I couldn’t be more proud of that fact.”
But did she say anything like that? Of course not. Instead, she talked about how she could “feel his spirit” in this place that MLK’s presence had turned into “sacred ground” and that he would’ve heartily approved because the rally was all about “equality”, which is what he stood for. And “conservative” National Review was so proud of her words they posted the video.
(Of course, none of this idiotic pandering did anything to convince liberals and non-whites that Beck, Palin, and the hundreds of thousands of white people who showed up at the rally are anything but despicable racists and Nazis.)
As it turned out, the rally was actually a huge revival meeting, in which Beck implored America to turn back to the god(s) of our Jewish-Christian-Muslim-Hindu-Mormon-Sikh-Zoroastrian heritage that made America great. He had over 200 members of the clergy on the podium, and he stressed that they were from “all faiths” and it didn’t matter which god we pray to, as long as we pray to something or someone, singular or plural. Just pick a higher power and go with it. In other words, it was the largest Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in history. Listen as Beck tells the crowd to “go back to your church, your synagogue, your mosque” and get to work on “refounding America.”
Now, normally, evangelicals would be horrified at this pantheism of “America needs to turn back to god, but it doesn’t matter which god” on full display Saturday, at a huge revival meeting led by America’s most famous Mormon. But not anymore. Judging by the posts and comments on the website of America’s biggest Christian news magazine, they ate it up. One columnist pretty much compared Glenn Beck to Jesus:
We arrived an hour late. The entire reflecting pool area of the National Mall was packed. The adjacent fields were packed, and the tide stretched toward the Washington Monument. The Associated Press has reported that “tens of thousands” were there. That kind of cynical numbers-downplaying reminded me of Heidi’s Romans 8:28 observation and made me glad that every lie will come out in the wash eventually. They lied about Jesus the whole of his ministry. And after he was raised, which was the ultimate vindication, they paid off soldiers to spread the rumor that his body had been stolen. But as the Bible says, “No weapon forged against you shall prosper” (Isaiah 54:17).
Neither Beck nor his other speakers (among whom, Sarah Palin) mentioned a word about Mr. Obama. This concerted decision to steer clear of politics and hatefulness robbed the Huffington Post of the ability to dub the affair “political,” forcing them to settle for the accusation that it was “religious.” This is like when the Pharisees called Jesus a glutton and drunkard when he ate and drank, and a madman when the crowds thronged Him so that he couldn’t eat—the damned if you do and if you don’t approach that makes me glad for the sovereignty of God and Romans 8:28.
Toward the end, Glenn Beck told the attentive crowd that if we don’t go home and let our revival meeting change our lives, by drawing near to God and by telling the truth in our daily living, then all we will have had was a good time on a Saturday afternoon.
Notice how she accepts the liberal premise that criticism of Obama is “hatefulness.” Then she calls the rally a “revival meeting”, after complaining that the media was calling it “religious” in nature! If Beck comes across to normal people as a complete nutcase, it’s because he knows his audience.
Another columnist for Worldalso wrote about the rally. His 72 year old mother attended, in spite of recently having a hip replacement. Which was no doubt paid for by Medicare, which probably doesn’t even phase her when she agrees with Beck and the Tea Parties that “government should get out of health care.” Anyway, his 72 year old mother must be a member of the lying liberal media, because she said the rally was all about god:
I called my mother to see if the stories were accurate. “Mom, what was the rally like? What was the tone?” I asked. “Beck’s speech was primarily all about God,” she said verifying the news reports of the giant Tea Party. There wasn’t any focus on politics. It was about recognizing God.
Clearly, Beck’s rally was a vague, confused jumble of meaninglessness. Or, if you prefer, a hot ghetto mess. Yet many conservatives are excited and thrilled, and think that 8/28/10 will forever be remembered as some kind of turning point, as the day when the huge task of “taking America back” formally got underway. In reality, it was the exact opposite. I’m convinced that one of these days, we’ll look back on this as the nadir of the mainstream conservative movement, as its death rattle, as the day the conservative movement gave up the ghost. Hundreds of thousands of white conservatives spent millions of dollars to travel to DC, to stand around and do nothing, after being ordered not to bring any signs to express themselves, while Beck and Palin lectured them on the glories of The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., and the importance of getting back to the fundamentals of the Christian-Jewish-Muslim-Hindu-Sikh-Mormon faiths.
Meanwhile, back in reality, the world they’re desperately trying to preserve, but can’t, because they’re desperately afraid to even name it, just keeps disappearing. In fact, the very next day the New York Timespublished an article about the death of conservatism in Orange County, California, which used to be the epicenter of political conservatism in America.
Orange County has been a national symbol of conservatism for more than 50 years: birthplace of President Richard M. Nixon and home to John Wayne, a bastion for the John Birch Society, a land of orange groves and affluence, the region of California where Republican presidential candidates could always count on a friendly audience.
But this iconic county of 3.1 million people passed something of a milestone in June. The percentage of registered Republican voters dropped to 43 percent, the lowest level in 70 years.
It was the latest sign of the demographic, ethnic and political changes that are transforming the county and challenging long-held views of a region whose colorful — its detractors might suggest zany — reputation extends well beyond the borders of this state.
At the end of 2009, nearly 45 percent of the county’s residents spoke a language other than English at home, according to county officials. Whites now make up only 45 percent of the population; this county is teeming with Hispanics, as well as Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese families. Its percentage of foreign-born residents jumped to 30 percent in 2008 from 6 percent in 1970, and visits to some of its corners can feel like a trip to a foreign land.
The demographic changes that have swept the county reflect what is happening across the state and much of the nation. It has happened slowly but surely over the course of a generation, becoming increasingly apparent not only in a drive through the 34 cities that fill this sprawling 789-square-mile county south of Los Angeles, but also, most recently, in the results of a presidential election. In 2008, Barack Obama drew 48 percent of the vote here against Senator John McCain of Arizona. (By comparison, in 1980, Jimmy Carter received just 23 percent against Ronald Reagan, the conservative hero whose election as California governor in 1966 and 1970 was boosted in no small part by the affection for him here.)
The demographic changes that have transformed Orange County are also transforming the rest of America. The process may be further along in Orange County, but it’s happening everywhere. Thanks to immigration, sixty percent of the babies being born in Texas are non-white, and it’s only a matter of a few more elections before Texas’s electoral votes go to the Democrats, and when that happens, the GOP can forget about putting one of their own in the White House ever again. And there are many other cities and states that are right behind Texas, and lots more where the process will take a few more decades to have the same effect, but all of America is on its way to turning into Orange County, California.
That’s why the Beck Heads and Tea Partiers are losing their country. Not because they don’t attend their local mosque often enough. But they can’t admit that, because that would be “racist”, and losing your country is a lot better than being called “racist.”
But a conservative movement as willingly impotent as the crowd that came to DC on Saturday can’t go on much longer. At some point it’s going to dawn on them that no matter how much they grovel to MLK and praise his holy name, or how many “conservative” imams they pack their podium with, they still get called racists and Nazis, and their country just keeps slipping further down the tubes.
When that finally sinks in with conservatives, and it may be sooner than we think, things will start to get interesting.