March 25, 2009
Richard is not the only person to notice the strange evolution of Glenn Beck from prototypical GOP-firster to Fed-bashing, anti-Patriot Act, populist. Though critics might be tempted to note that this sort of posturing was to be expected with a Democrat in the White House, in the case of Beck I’m doubtful that this is his motivation. For starters Beck refused to endorse John McCain,
“Some of my friends say that McCain is simply the lesser of two evils. He’s not great, but he’s all we’ve got. And when you’re up against Barack Obama, not so bad looks really good. While, by my standards, I don’t doubt McCain would be less damaging for the next four years, he might be worse for the next four decades.”
“The scenario that keeps running through my head goes like this: John McCain somehow wins; the major problems we’re likely going to face regardless of who is elected kick in; McCain gets blamed; and conservative ideals take the fall for McCain’s decidedly nonconservative policies. Plus, it’s always been my theory that you should be voting for something, not against something. Trying to win an election by just being against something is usually fruitless; see John Kerry.”
The sentiment expressed therein is not terribly different from what one would have found on this site in the lead up to the election, and certainly was out of step with the “beat the Dems!” talk radio rhetoric that quickly replaced the “anybody but McCain” mantras that had been so common during the primary season.
Beck also differentiates himself from Rush and friends via his willingness to have people like Ron Paul appear on his show with regularity. Combine this with his tendency to discuss taboo subjects (FEMA camps, “The Bubba Effect,” The Fed, et.) and it seems fair to say that Glenn is slowly working his way out of the mainstream conservative movement.
While I can imagine many Paulites and Paleocons cringing at the notion of Beck being “Old Right” anything, there is a historic parallel here. While it is a bit of a stretch, one of the heroes of the anti-New Deal, America First coalition – John T. Flynn – traveled a similar path to enlightenment.
Though Flynn eventually became a figure reviled by the mainstream (i.e. liberal) media for his contemptuous attitude toward all things welfare statist, he started out as a supporter of FDR and the regulatory state. A regular contributor to the quintessential center-left journal The New Republic, Flynn gravitated over to the anti-statist Right as a result of the excess of the administration that Flynn had previously been a cheerleader for.
Beck is nowhere near the writer Flynn was, and he has not yet reached the position on the political spectrum that Flynn ultimately settled into. Still the precedent set by John T. Flynn should tell us there is hope for men like Glenn Beck.
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