The New York Time’s recent profile of Glenn Beck is an interesting insight into the man regarded as the defacto leader of the Tea Party and voice of the supposedly disenfranchised white majority. While the article focuses on Beck as a person, his skills as a presenter and his relationship with Fox, this paragraph caught my attention:
Communists in the White House are bent on “fundamentally transforming” the country; progressives speak of putting “the common good” before the individual, which “is exactly the kind of talk that led to the death camps in Germany,” as he said on his show in May. Or, as he said in July of last year, “Everything that is getting pushed through Congress, including this health care bill,” is “driven by President Obama’s thinking on . . . reparations” and his desire to “settle old racial scores.”
Beck’s crusade against progressivism and any policies furthering the common good has been his calling card of late, and Beck has been playing the fear card in order to remind Americans that they are a country of individuals, not a society.
This philosophy of militant individualism is extremely useful for people like Beck and his incredibly rich and powerful allies in the corporate world. Ignoring human being’s natural tendencies to form groups, coalitions and provide support networks for eachother, Beck would rather you focus on the narcisstic and selfish elements of human nature – the ones that make you scared, feel alone and dependent on consuming to fill the void created by his bleak self interested world.
The more you are afraid of other people, the more you will rely on people like Beck to tell you how to live your life and the more you will buy the products associated with his show. It’s a trick the rich and powerful have been playing on the poor for ever – convincing them that they are powerless to create change and must accept rules from above. Individualism may seem empowering when sold by people like Beck, the extreme minority who have managed to navigate capitalism’s ruthless seas to the very top, but it is an empty philosophy designed to isolate and decimate human connectivity.
In 2008, Americans created a massive grass roots organization around an African American politician, propelling him to the heights of power. While Obama clearly isn’t everything the progressive community wants, he is a symbol of what is possible when people come together to create change. Beck knows this and was probably frightened out of his wits.
So now he must undermine the confidence created by the Obama movement and convince Americans that they can’t do anything, that they are slaves to the system that enrichens the few and takes from the many. Beck maintains that you too can be rich like him and that you must help defeat the evil communism threatening the American Dream. It’s a brilliant trick to convince those struggling to help foster their own demise, but Beck is master salesman and con artist preying on those most vulnerable.
The answer to Beck’s corrosive influence isn’t liberal counterparts like Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow who go tit for tat on prime time TV. It’s society and people working together, refusing to be atomized and told they cannot accomplish anything. Because history shows us that sometimes, we really can.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.