It has been an interesting year. It started with the 9/12 March on Washington in 2009, and finished with the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally of 2010. Those two events are bookends to the blurry whirlwind that was one year of my life: parenting, traveling, listening, reading, blogging.
The 9/12 event was not the beginning of my interest in politics. Shoot, I’ve been conservative/libertarian since age nineteen (based on that old adage, I must have no heart).
But 9/12 was just . . . overwhelming. A turning point. On that morning, my family and I walked out of our hotel and towards Pennsylvania Avenue with no idea what we would encounter. We did not expect to get swept into an ocean of families like ours, so wide and so thick I could not move nor see past it. I did not expect that sea to wash over Pennsylvania Avenue for hours.
9/12 was the kind of rare thing that fills your soul. To the brim. One day, you are alone in your dismay at the political landscape and the state of your government generally. The next day, you are not. Not alone. Not dismayed. Worried? Maybe. But motivated to do something.
I could see my own surprise, gratitude, and hope mirrored in the expressions of everyone around me that day.
Fast forward now to the 8/28 Restoring Honor Rally. This experience was certainly similar to 9/12, with one big difference. This time, I am not surprised in the least. Not surprised by the size of the crowd, or by the vastly different attendance numbers reported. Not surprised by the way some media outlets equated the rally with the counter-rally, by lumping their numbers together. Not surprised by the mischaracterizations, the twisting of facts (these links are via Legal Insurrection). In fairness, one lefty blogger charitably offered that most of us are “probably not bad people,” although we still must be battled in order to “save civil society.” Oh my, that sure sounds serious. And sorta fear-mongery.
Anyhoo, having listened to Glenn Beck somewhat regularly this past year, I was not surprised by the religious nature of 8/28. I mean, he’s been getting increasingly preachier and preachier all year long. If you are a regular listener, you have noticed.
And if you are a born-again, baptized-in-the-water believer, you probably don’t mind. Even if Glenn Beck is a Mormon, a fact which some folks think should cause other Christians to recoil in horror. (Hello, isn’t that a bit divisive? Especially from that all-inclusive, all-tolerating left side of the political spectrum.)
Other folks also seem a bit flummoxed by the religious nature of the 8/28 event. In the New York Times, one commentator describes it this way:
“Instead [of a political event], Beck served up something considerably stranger. This was a tent revival crossed with a pep rally intertwined with a history lecture married to a U.S.O. telethon.”
Well, yeah. Fair enough. But to me, it didn’t feel strange. The event felt as natural as attending my parent’s nondenominational church or mass at my kids’ Catholic school. We came, we shared a little fellowship with those around us, we prayed at bit, sang a bit, coaxed the kids into enduring boredom a bit, and that’s all. Just like church.
But with a slightly larger crowd than the usual congregation.
I kinda wondered what the not-openly-religious type of libertarian would think of the Restoring Honor Rally. The approach of two thinkers, Glenn Reynolds and Nick Gillespie, can be found in this concise nutshell of Insty info. Read the whole thing, and watch the Reason.com video embedded therein. They are fair enough assessments. A little reserved perhaps. (As long as it’s Tocquevillian, it’s okay in Professor Reynolds’ book.)
But for the record: nothing whatsoever about the rally left me reserved or unsettled.
I am grateful for Beck’s melding of libertarianism with religion. Mostly, the right side of politics has always had separate camps: the religious right and, well, the rest. I have never felt entirely at home in either camp. Which is why I branded myself a “Christian libertarian” a long time ago.
Then along comes Glenn Beck, an ex-pop music radio DJ, recovering alcoholic, and Mormon, who seems to be building a bridge between those two camps.
I like it.
Okay, a bit of housekeeping before I sign off. One, Tim Cavanaugh’s take is well worth reading, but here is my favorite line:
“the real reason I and my fellow coastal elites are wary of Glenn Beck is a lot more basic: He’s the fat kid you don’t want to be seen with at the lunch table. I’ll admit it! I find Beck a little bit creepy and gross and needy, and he gives me this sense that things are not going to end well.”
Ha! Once again I say: fair enough.
Next, guess what? The President still does not take us seriously. Yawn, no surprise there.
Finally, as far as that whole “saving civil society” thing goes. Just look at the difference between the D.C. Mall after the Restoring Honor Rally, as compared to post-Obama inauguration. Then tell me once again who is the more civil group, the lefties or the righties? Just sayin’.