“We cannot make events. Our business is wisely to improve them.”
In order to determine what Glenn Beck is politically, what his political values are, we need to first consider the following, a taxonomy (ordering) of political values:
It’s clear that political values do not follow a straight line from left to right as Beck indicated on his May 3rd show, but rather they form a mandala or, more simply, a circle. This is a modification of the same taxonomy presented by William Irwin Thompson, and it’s used with permission of the author.
I’m going to further use his May 3rd show to make points about where Beck is politically, but first I want to make some points about the taxonomy above first. The area at the top between conservative and liberals is where the country normally operates. You can see that slightly liberal Sen. Lieberman is just to the left of the very top (Order) and Sen. Lindsey Graham is just to the right of the top.
At the most left tip of the mandala is President Obama, and across from him is President Reagan. Both were charismatic and slightly outside of the mainstream, and both presidents brought out opposition in protests. For President Obama, this array of groups is represented by the Tea Party but also includes gun rights advocates, Libertarians and either the wealthy and connected or those who represent them, so called AstroTurf groups.
In Reagan’s presidency, the opposition protesters were nuclear freeze advocates, peace activists, socialists, labor activists (union members), ACORN, anarchists, Marxists and other progressive activists (those who represented the poor and unconnected). In Reagan’s time, everything those protesters wanted the Administration to do was ignored, and it’s likely that what the Tea Party wants will likely be ignored today (although if TEA = Taxed Enough Already, then they have the lowest tax rates in 50 years albeit not to their credit). For Reagan, the protesters were wrong. Ditto for Obama.
Where exactly one gets placed upon this mandala is based upon judgement about someone and the issue at hand. For example Congressman Weiner is more progressive on health care reform than President Obama because he favored a single-payer, government run health care insurance plan. It’s likely that on education reform Weiner might be less progressive than the President, so his position on that mandala would be above, not below Obama’s.
Beck likes to roughly equate the Communists and the Nazis, but this is just one more point where he is wrong in his historical and political analysis. They might both want larger, activist government, but what puts the Nazis on the right, the far, far right, is their racism. Racism–even Mr. Beck can agree–is an immoral and unjustifiable mental framework of the past. That’s why they are positioned near the KKK on the mandala.
Although not indicated on the mandala, progressives operate on the left. The further down the left side of the mandala you look, the more progressive actors are. On the right are the regressive actors, and again the further down the right side, the more regressive.
Radicals generally do not want to reform a system; they want to discard it and start over with something new and untried. We often hear of people being described as “radicals” who are not. Islamic terrorists fall into this group. Nazis and anti-technologists are often called “radicals” or their views are deemed “radical.” This is a misnomer. Radicals aim to leap forward; those who aim to leap backward in time, back to outdated modes of thought, are called reactionaries.
Reactionaries do not like the current system any more than radicals, but they are less interested in discarding or destroying the system (of government, the economy and/or culture) as they are interested in returning to some condition of the past. Thus, the further down the right side one moves down the mandala, the more regressive they are, the further back they want to push the system. Reactionaries are nostalgic.
How far right?
This brings us to Glenn Beck. He does not try to hide the fact that he wants to return to a perceived (by him), golden time when government didn’t interfere in our lives, when life was most free and people were generally happier than they are today. When Beck talks about reforming America, he’s not being a conservative. He’s being a reactionary.
During his May 3rd show, he claimed that “You don’t fundamentally transform something you love,” referring to Obama’s claim before the election that he was going to “fundamentally transform America.” Beck claimed that instead, he wants the “preservation and restoration” of something you love. Don’t we preserve what’s dead? When we restore something, isn’t then used mostly if not exclusively for show like an antique care or old painting?
When Beck was strung out on cocaine and alcohol, someone, who loves him, fundamentally transformed him into sobriety to keep him out of jail or the ground, six feet under. Right now, America is addicted to oil as George Bush pointed out. In order to survive, we need to fundamentally transform the energy systems of the United States. Putting a radical like Van Jones in the position to advise the President about green jobs makes sense to all but those who still have an inordinate fear of Communism.
Beck will never agree to this no matter what amount of evidence he is confronted with; that would go against everything he has made a handsome living on in the last year.
Beck wants us to believe that President Obama is a “radical.” Mr. Beck, can you then agree that President was a reactionary? Again, on May 3rd you placed Reagan to the right of the line you used to show the distinction between big government and small government and accurately claimed that “Ronald Reagan took us back.” Beck conveniently forgot to mention that Reagan also tripled the debt and did cave in to one interest group to use the Federal Government to change our behavior and limit our freedom. That interest group was MADD, Mothers Against Dunk Driving; and the freedom that Reagan curbed was our freedom to drive after a few drinks.
Why did Reagan act against his ideology? It was a political decision to be sure; he didn’t want MADD fighting against his re-election. It also made sense because it is not in the public interest to have drunk drivers on the road.
This is the crux of the argument to be made against reactionaries like Glenn Beck and libertarian Congressman Ron Paul. There is only one structure, one organization that can effectively protect the public interest, the public in general; and that is government. There is no one else, no other structure that can do that.
The argument, Mr. Beck, is not between big government and small government as you would have your viewers believe. The debate is about how much do we protect the public. What kind of balance is there between protecting the private interests (individual and corporate behavior) and protecting the public’s interest in clean air, clear water, atmospheric stability, park space, road safety, children’s safety and people’s safety when they get sick?
Progressives want a better balance between the public and the private interests; regressives want to tip that balance toward the corporations that put profit before people. Mr. Beck, regressive reactionary, you can whine and cry and stomp your feet, but your side lost the last election. Now is the time for change, change we can believe in, change that we need to move forward into a post-carbon energy fueled and thus sustainable economy whether you like it or not.
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