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Glenn Beck, Community Organizer

glenn-beck-pointingGlenn Beck has a plan.  Actually, the Plan.  Which he reveals on his website.

Today, I have stopped looking for a leader to show us the way out because I have come to realize that the only one who can truly save our country…is us. To change America’s course we need to change ourselves, our expectations and our willingness to accept the unacceptable. When we refuse to allow our children to receive a trophy for participation, we are on the road to restoring the meaning of merit in our Republic. When we insist that no one is too big to fail, we will be able to learn from our mistakes, and when we demand that we are self-reliant, we will ensure that others can rely on us, not the government.

[...]

- Education is key, and not just for our children. To that end, we will be conducting a series of conventions. These will be full-day experiences where you will be immersed in learning about topics ranging from self-reliance, community organizing, the economy and how to be a political force in your own neighborhood and country. The first one will be in Orlando at UCF Arena on March 27th. You will also be able to vote to have a convention in your region by clicking here.

- I have begun meeting with some of the best minds in the country that believe in limited government, maximum freedom and the values of our Founders. I am developing a 100 year plan. I know that the bipartisan corruption in Washington that has brought us to this brink and it will not be defeated easily. It will require unconventional thinking and a radical plan to restore our nation to the maximum freedoms we were supposed to have been protecting, using only the battlefield of ideas.

- All of the above will culminate in The Plan, a book that will provide specific policies, principles and, most importantly, action steps that each of us can take to play a role in this Refounding.

- On August 28, 2010, I ask you, your family and neighbors to join me at the feet of Abraham Lincoln on the National Mall for the unveiling of The Plan and the birthday of a new national movement to restore our great country.

The Soviets and Chinese Communists were famous for Five Year Plans that Americans used to make fun of.  Beck, apparently, figures that their flaw wasn’t the hubris of planning the next five years but stopping 95 years short.

Apparently, the plan has yet to be hatched.  It’s intriguing to announce a 100 year plan but tell people they’ll need to wait nine months and a week to get the details.

If nothing else, Beck has intrigued NYT correspondent Brian Seltzer and a few bloggers. Seltzer reports that Beck “emphasized that while candidates may align themselves with the values and principles that he espouses, he would not take the next step to endorse them.”

Mr. Beck is not the only media firebrand trying to mobilize Americans disaffected with a Democratic-controlled government. The radio host Laura Ingraham is inviting candidates to sign a 10-point pledge on her Web site. Sean Hannity, on his afternoon radio show and prime-time Fox News program, is promoting “Conservative Victory 2010,” his name for the map on his site that will spell out questions for candidates. And the former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who has a show on Fox News, has steered viewers to his Web site, where they can contribute money to his political action committee in support of conservative candidates.

Pundits have used their media stages to encourage political action before, but people like Mr. Beck and Mr. Hannity are taking on outsize roles now, political experts and conservative commentators say. One reason, they say, is the weakened state of the Republican Party.

Beck’s strangeness aside, the idea of reshaping the American political system from the bottom up is interesting.  But while I rather like the idea of pressuring the Republican Party to get back to its small government roots — even by challenging it with a libertarian oriented third party — there’s precious little evidence that there’s anything close to majority support for that as a style of governance.   Like it or not, the Republicans became a Big Government party in recent years because that’s what the people have demanded.

I still see enthusiastic small government types calling for dismantling the Department of Education and other bits of leftover rhetoric from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign.  But I doubt that even twenty percent of Americans are in favor of such a move.

The two parties and their constituent interest groups have done a superb job of poisoning the well.  Republicans have virtually ensured that we’ll never have anything short of a massive defense budget and we’ll never have the sort of confiscatory tax brackets for high earners that they have in Europe and we had here as recently as John Kennedy’s administration.  And Democrats have made it a virtual certainty that we’ll not only not cut back on the social safety net but that it will incrementally increase and periodically boom.   The “compromise” solution is massive deficit spending.

While we occasionally get Ross Perot types calling attention to the unsustainability of that approach, the excitement quickly fades.  While all of us can find big chunks of the budget we’d pare, there’s not enough overlap to get anywhere close to majority support — let alone the sixty votes necessary to get much of anything through the Senate.  And those who would face cuts to their subsidies care more and are better organized than those who want the cuts.

Dave Schuler likes to point out that things which are unsustainable will not be sustained.  But the nature of the American political system guarantees we won’t do anything until an absolute crisis forces us to.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Mithras says:

    Republicans have virtually ensured that we’ll never have anything short of a massive defense budget and we’ll never have the sort of confiscatory tax brackets for high earners that they have in Europe and we had here as recently as John Kennedy’s administration. And Democrats have made it a virtual certainty that we’ll not only not cut back on the social safety net but that it will incrementally increase and periodically boom. The “compromise” solution is massive deficit spending.

    False dichotomy and not entirely accurate on its own merits. Lots of Democrats love “defense” spending; lots of Republicans are now staunch champions of Medicare and Social Security.

    The real point is we don’t need anything like “confiscatory tax brackets” to pay for the needed social programs and other investments and still bring the deficit down to manageable levels. Our health care system is broken, creating a human and entrepreneurial crisis, and basic things like our roads, bridges and water supply infrastructure are falling apart. The Republicans have recklessly sold their supporters on the idea that they can have the kind of society they enjoy while not paying for it. It’s clear where the vicious circle needs to be broken.

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  2. kth says:

    I’ll leave the low-hanging fruit alone wrt Glenn Beck. But a 100-year plan is a dumb idea even for people who think seriously about political change. The political process is nearly memoryless, getting more so every year that we get more plugged in, and is almost entirely driven by the events of the past year or even month.

    My crystal ball is about as fuzzy as they come, but I’d foresee (over the next 30-50 years) a fairly steady increase in the cost of energy (even if we dig up all the coal and find some way of burning it in our cars), and a more modest growth rate for US firms, even during expansions, than we have been used to these last 60 years. Someone taking the long view might start thinking about reconciling Americans to having less stuff and not being able to go anywhere we want just on a whim (renegotiating our worldwide defense commitments over the next generation or so would, I agree, mitigate these privations somewhat).

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  3. Mr. Prosser says:

    There is no 100 year plan and this shiny new toy will fade in less than five years. Real change takes real work, not seminars and buying books. Beck is just selling more cheap plastic crap. I agree with kth about how immediacy is all in politics. Was it Keynes who said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.”?

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  4. Our Paul says:

    I for one do not minimize the disruptive force of Glen Beck, or any other individual who has a megaphone and preaches the simple life of small government (read no regulatory function), rugged individualism, and of course lower taxes. These chest thumpers have one thing in common, they do know how to point fingers. Thus, something like this is not unexpected:

    The two parties and their constituent interest groups have done a superb job of poisoning the well. Republicans have virtually ensured that we’ll never have anything short of a massive defense budget and we’ll never have the sort of confiscatory tax brackets for high earners that they have in Europe and we had here as recently as John Kennedy’s administration. And Democrats have made it a virtual certainty that we’ll not only not cut back on the social safety net but that it will incrementally increase and periodically boom. The “compromise” solution is massive deficit spending.

    Pray tell, what “interest groups” are poisoning what well? Perhaps the Conservative/Libertarian cabal marching arm in arm with the Insurance companies singing the International as they sabotaged any attempt to introduce equitable medical care to the great unwashed?

    As any Euro-weenie worth his salt, or any Atlantacist with academic credentials will tell you, the European social compact has produced a healthier, better educated population with a distinctly lower poverty rate than exists in this country. Those are facts.

    The inquiring mind rather than disparaging “confiscatory” taxes would as an intellectual (dare I say Academic?) exercise ask this question: Why doesn’t the US have a European Style Welfare State? That questioned has been posed, and answered in a 67 page paper out of the Harvard Institute of Economic Research. In either html or pdf form it can be found here. The abstract will chill your bones, and warm the heart of some…

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  5. The problem I have with people like Glenn Beck, is that I don’t think they’re sincere. When they talk about small government, they are talking entirely about spending, which is actually a small part of the way governments seek to control people. No mention is made of reducing that. And indeed, when it comes to foreign policy or surveillance they are actually calling for the government to get bigger, have fewer checks and balances, less oversight, etc.

    Of course, even the few areas they do talk about reducing the government only extend back to January 20, 2008. Which leaves me the impression that all this “Glenn Beck, libertarian” talk will last not one second past Republicans getting control of something again.

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  6. George B says:

    Republicans have virtually ensured that we’ll never have anything short of a massive defense budget and we’ll never have the sort of confiscatory tax brackets for high earners that they have in Europe and we had here as recently as John Kennedy’s administration. And Democrats have made it a virtual certainty that we’ll not only not cut back on the social safety net but that it will incrementally increase and periodically boom. The “compromise” solution is massive deficit spending.

    If government was more local, the left and the right could agree to disagree. For example, if all the gasoline tax I pay here in Texas stayed in Texas, I’m sure that there would be enough revenue to pay for roads and bridges. If taxpayers in Massachusetts chose to divert fuel taxes to mass transit, bike trails and general revenue, it doesn’t affect me if it occurs at the state level. The problem is the national government is doing things that could and should be done at the state and local level. I have no problem if other states wish to have government healthcare within their state as long as I don’t have to pay for it. However, force the issue at the national level and you split the nation.

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  7. Bruce Cunningham says:

    Glen Beck has a great point that people are missing,my late wife in the early 90′s was so very involved in my kids school, the ladies thought everybody should be rewarded for all the small things. Every class in elementary school had a graduation ceremony for getting to the next grade. Thus there was never a moment for the kids to learn from failure. We became a great society from learning from failure, but now the mantra is nobody fails! I so weep for our soon to be lost Country.

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  8. G.A.Phillips says:

    But the nature of the American political system guarantees we won’t do anything until an absolute crisis forces us to.

    I give you, Obama&company:)

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  9. Gustopher says:

    My 100 year plan: Genetically engineer a race of mildly intelligent, hairless and adorable helper monkeys to clean my house.

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  10. It’s always painful to watch Republicans try to run for President. They promote low taxes and limited government. Then the inevitable question, what will they cut? Not defense, won’t touch Social Security or Medicare, but they will promise to cut discretionary spending.

    Knowing that will not include things like the FBI or cancer research, they seize on something unpopular, like earmarks, and vague promises about cutting waste.

    The unspoken truth is that they will never cut anything, but vote for them because they won’t propose the new, massive spending programs their opponent would. No one with a serious chance at becoming president do anything different, even Sarah Palin.

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  11. anjin-san says:

    Those are facts.

    And therefore of no interest to Beck or his listeners…

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  12. steve says:

    So let me get this straight. A wise man (Beck) with a minority political philosophy, with the help of a few comrades, is going to lead the proletariat in a grand 100 year plan that will result in Utopia. We will start with indoctrination and propaganda centers, err conventions and books. Our country will be restored to greatness. Let us meet at the feet of Nevsky brave comrades, oops, Lincoln to begin the glorious revolution of 100 years. Brilliant!

    Steve

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  13. Franklin says:

    I’m sympathetic to this bit over-rewarding children, but is that all that Beck’s got?

    He’s admitted several times that he is nothing more than an entertainer. So I ask you, has he suddenly changed his stripes?

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  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Comrade anjin-son, when did a Marxist like yourself become interested in facts? Certainly not during the last administration. If Beck is not interested in facts, prove him wrong. He deals in facts you are a ready source of BS and that is not initials for a Bachelor of Science degree. There is a fact for you. I think you have more in common with Bill Mahre than I do with Glen Beck.

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  15. Just Stop It says:

    Well, here’s MY plan: Stop voting America. Stop colluding in the pretense of democracy when that is not what America is any more. Stop pretending that your “vote” counts. Stop voting UNTIL we have publicly financed elections. When there are no votes to count, the pretense of a “democratic republic” will be impossible and the “american oligarchy” will be exposed. Who will the dictators and tyrants appoint if no one votes?

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  16. G.A.Phillips says:

    Well, here’s MY plan: Stop voting America. Stop colluding in the pretense of democracy when that is not what America is any more. Stop pretending that your “vote” counts. Stop voting UNTIL we have publicly financed elections. When there are no votes to count, the pretense of a “democratic republic” will be impossible and the “american oligarchy” will be exposed. Who will the dictators and tyrants appoint if no one votes?

    Ya lets, every single one of us, and then lets see how many votes the Democrats still get.

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  17. kitman3 says:

    Glen Beck is one of the few people willing to speak the truth about the unsustainable insanity that has overtaken washington.
    as usual demoRats just like the state media have totally UNDERESTIMATED how angry and upset people are about what is going on.
    They tried to discredit the tea party movement but failed – it only grows in strength.
    The Oath Keepers are gathering members daily and support the people not the government.
    This is a turning point in our history.
    Just as the polls indicate 56% of americans are against the terrible so-called Health Care legislation yet demoRats scurry fighting among themselves while blaming someone else trying desperately to pass something to show
    How stupid do you think we all are?
    At least Glen Beck is doing something!!!
    For decades we have moved away from the principals that founded our country and made it great.
    Time to get back to basic.
    Progressivism = Totalitarianism!!!

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