The Glenn Beck fans on my subway car after today’s rally were a subdued bunch. They didn’t seem energized by having spent time with their idol and many thousands of fellow fans. Why not?
Beck’s Big (Yawn) Event, #1
“It was kind of boring,” said one. “It wasn’t what I expected,” said another. “It was good,” one said with an unenthusiastic shrug. “He had some good speakers.” One recalled someone sitting near them grumbling, “I didn’t come all this way for an awards ceremony.”
Not the reaction you’re going for when you’ve declared your intention of fundamentally transforming the country and sparking a Great Awakening that will turn the country back to God.
It wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of attendees at today’s rally feel like victims of a bait and switch. Beck built a huge fan base with over-the-top attacks on President Obama – he hates white people, he’s a communist-socialist-Nazi – denunciations of “social justice” Christians, and hard-hitting appeals to the anti-government Tea Party brigades to save America from all the evil villains who are trying to destroy it from within. There are a lot of people in America who love Beck because they believe he is telling them these hard truths that nobody else has the guts to tell them. They were the folks with the “Don’t Tread on me” and “Taking our Country Back” T-shirts. But today Beck was preaching love and unity. We’re all Americans aren’t we?
Somewhere along the line, Beck says he had a change of heart. He decided the rally would not be about politics at all, but about God. There was a sort of confused silence among my corner of the crowd when he explained this. And it didn’t help that his performance technique of dramatically lowering his voice, which works fine on TV, meant that a lot of folks simply couldn’t hear a lot of what he had to say.
After the rally, people I spoke with did not feel that they had been given any clear marching orders in spite of Beck’s long and repetitive speech telling people that America is at a crossroads and they had to stand up! But stand up for what exactly?
In fact, a lot of speakers insisted we as a nation are at a crucial crossroads, but nobody ever explained exactly what it was. Given Beck’s decision to portray this as a non-political event honoring veterans and the civilians who received his new faith, hope, and charity awards, the speeches about the crossroads never led to a hard hitting political conversation. So people were exhorted to go to church, get right with God, and stand up for truth. They need Glenn Beck to tell them this?
Of course, we’re not buying that the event was as non-political as Beck portrayed. In a future post we’ll take a look at Glenn’s remarks (I’ve learned his fans call him by his first name) and the other speakers.