Friday, October 9, 2009

A Split Decision On Glenn Beck's Common Sense

Glenn Beck's Common Sense is ultimately a book with two purposes. The first is to outline the urgent problems that our nation seems unwilling or unable to recognize, and the second is to tell us how to act. GBCS succeeds brilliantly in achieving its first purpose, but sadly, fails to achieve its second goal.

The book is full of shocking and disturbing statistics about greed, government waste, and Progressivism, presented in a very "common sense" way. By the time I had finished reading, I believed Beck. We have some serious problems confronting us, and if we don't deal with them, our children are going to be the ones paying the price. Of course, I believed that going into the book as well.

Unfortunately, the remedies offered by Beck are vague and exceedingly unrealistic. After carefully and skillfully guiding the readers through what could be a very boring discussion on national debt, Beck's answer to us is: stop spending. His answer to the problem of parties that don't listen to us is to drop out (as opposed to Goldwater's solution in 1964 of getting more involved in the Republican Party). His 9.12 project is full of populist platitudes like, "The government works for me. I do not answer to them, they answer to me." Well, populism isn't conservatism, and a nation of honest, reverent, hopeful, thrifty, humble, charitable, sincere, moderate, hard working, courageous, grateful, and personally responsible people suddenly developing overnight in this country strikes me as almost as fanciful as believing that there is such a thing as "free money" to give to people. And the sad fact is, we have plenty of Americans who believe in free money. Those of us who don't believe Obama's "stash" (as one woman in Detroit recently put it) is neverending have to be realistic in our goals and tactical in our thinking.

Glenn Beck has a wonderful way with words, but that doesn't mean that his call to action is on target. If anything, Beck is guilty of expecting too much from his fellow Americans. It's a shame, because as a warning cry, GBCS is desperately needed. And to be perfectly honest, why should Beck be expected to both warn the world of impending doom and be the guy with the plan to save the day? That scenario seems more Hollywood than history to me. After all, Paul Revere warned the countryside that the Regulars were out, but it's not like he helped write the Declaration of Independance. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration, but didn't fight when the British invaded Virginia during the War of Independance. So why should Glenn Beck (or Rush Limbaugh, or Sean Hannity) know best how to save us?

In the end, I have to give GBCS one thumb up. It attempts to be a serious book, but by articulating essentially unserious solutions, it fails to be anything more than words of warning lost amidst a pundit's heartfelt yearning for a new and awakened America.

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