The road from Arthur Brooks to Glenn Beck.
The aerial photograph does not lie. Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally drew just about as many people as any other rally ever held at the Lincoln Memorial.
I took the train into town from home in Northern Virginia, packed in like in those Tokyo subway video clips, even though I was late. I marched down to the Memorial from the nearest subway stop at Foggy Bottom, where the D.C. bureaucrats had helpfully disabled the steep escalators from the underground tubes to greet the half a million or more celebrants of liberty on the way in.
From my perspective on the ground, arriving late at about 11:15 (the rally started at 10), I could never get close enough to the podium even to see. But I could hear. And that was all I needed.
On his radio and TV shows, Beck has emphasized economics, political history, and near libertarian political philosophy. He has previously indicated his personal belief in God. But in this speech, he revealed a vision that encompasses the whole Reagan coalition from 1980.
Beck tutored me once again with his insight that the founders grew up in an America where the evangelist George Whitefield crisscrossed the colonies inspiring a national religious revival, that they probably personally heard or read Whitefield sermons, and that this foundation informed their work in later founding America.
Of course, Whitefield himself suffered some moral blindness and shortcomings, as has Beck in his past, as we all have. That is why we all need God. As Beck said in explaining the message of the event:
Saturday’s message — shhh! It’s a big secret. I’ve only talked about it for six months on one of the biggest cable news shows in history and the third largest radio show in America…so…just between us. Don’t anyone tell the media: The secret is God…We’re running low on personal responsibility. We’ve got a loss of integrity, a loss of shame in this country, a loss of principles and values. We’ve lost our way because we have lost God…. And hopefully, we will mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor [as the signers of the Declaration of Independence did]. At least we will begin to look at those things, start to maybe challenge that we haven’t valued those things high enough —honesty, integrity, merit, personal responsibility, family, and God. That is why we call it the “Restoring Honor” event.
And that is why the event involved spotlighting those in the military who have earned honor by demonstrating merit, something many in the media also couldn’t understand. Beck explained that this is the road to the revival of America: “We have lost our honor. We must restore our honor first, our principles.”
But Beck’s point about Whitefield made clear to me that the Reagan coalition, which Beck embodies quite well, goes all the way back to 1740, and was the foundation of the American Revolution itself. Indeed, it goes all the way back to the Mayflower Compact.
The 70% Supermajority
Beck kept emphasizing to the crowd, “You are not alone.” That is fully documented in Arthur Brooks’ brilliant new book, The Battle: How the Fight Between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future. Indeed, Brooks goes on to make much the same argument as Beck and his Restore Honor rally, but in purely secular, academic, carefully logical terms. Brooks writes:
Whether we look at capitalism, taxes, business, or government, the data show a clear consistent pattern: 70 percent of Americans support the free enterprise system and are unsupportive of big government. By contrast, somewhere between 20 and 30 percent of the adult population opposes free enterprise and prefers government solutions to our problems.
Here’s a wow moment from the book. An April 2009 survey of registered voters asked which of the following statements about the role of government comes closer to your view:
(a) Government should promote fairness by narrowing the gap between rich and poor, spreading the wealth, and making sure that economic outcomes are equal.
(b) Government policies should promote opportunity by fostering job growth, encouraging entrepreneurs, and allowing people to keep more of what they earn.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online