Say this for Glenn Beck: When the guy goes on the road, he doesn’t hold out on his fans. The Fox News host put on a show this weekend in the Villages, Fla., and he played all his classics:
- In America, Beck says, we’re supposed to decide peacefully according to agreed-upon procedures. “But everything is upside down right now!” You might think Barack Obama and the Democratic Congress were elected according to standard procedures. But Beck thinks that democracy is on the ropes; his evidence appears to be a made-up claim that Arianna Huffington wants to roll back his free speech protections. Powerful stuff.
- The U.S. is in the same situation as Weimar Germany in the 1920s, and it “ends the same way."
- The federal Treasury is being looted and emptied by corrupt politicians who go, naturally, unnamed. (Beck points to the $300 million earmarked for Louisiana in the healthcare bill to win the vote of Sen. Mary Landrieu. While unseemly, this is money going to Louisiana public services, not Landrieu herself, as Beck seems to imply. He also cites former Rep. Bill Jefferson, D-La., who was recently convicted on federal charges, as evidence for current corruption.)
You get the drift. There are vast, sinister and -- most important -- vaguely specified forces out there, about which you should feel massive unease. But don’t fear, America. Beck has a plan. In fact, he has The Plan. He’s assembling a team of advisors (not to run for president, he makes clear), and he’s reading up. Explains Beck:
Here’s how it’s going to work: I’ve done a lot of reading on history in the last few years. And I was amazed to find that what we’re experiencing now is really a ticking time bomb that they designed about a hundred years ago, at the beginning of the Progressive Movement. And they thought, if we just do this, and this, and this and this, over time, if we do it in both the Republican and Democratic parties, we will have our socialist utopia. Well, I say again, two can play at that game. I am drafting plans now to bring us back to an America that our founders would understand … We need to start thinking like the Chinese. I am developing a 100-year plan for America. We will plant this idea and it will sprout roots.
Apparently, Beck is going to hold seven rallies around the country, where he’ll impart the lessons he’s learned about history and policy. “You’re going to learn about history, you’re going to learn about finance, you’re going to learn about community organizing … And then, come August 28 -- I would like you to make your plans now, to join me at the feet of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC… We’re going to Washington together, where I will outline the steps that we need to take.”
OK, so it seems like Beck did hold out on his fans in one big way. I’ve now watched the speech all the way through, and it’s not at all clear what The Plan is. Keep listening to Beck until next summer apparently, and then there’s a new Plan.
This is pretty basic out-of-power movement stuff. MoveOn.org and Democracy for America spent the Bush years holding activist training meetings and rallies also. What’s interesting here is how badly Beck wants to think in continents and feel in centuries, rather than the grubby, day-to-day, unexciting facts of real-world politics. He’s identified a purely imaginary, epic-scale villain, and is pitching his otherwise kind of run-of-the-mill activist exercise as correspondingly high drama. Beck sees a dictator and his unthinking followers on the left, and wants to respond with an instructional national meeting where he can “outline the steps that we need to take.”
Also, just to be clear: If you're the person who told Beck about the 100-year socialist takeover plan, President Obama is very upset with you. Way to ruin it for everyone.