Glenn Beck’s tour de force of a CPAC speech has gotten attention for accusing Republicans, as well as Democrats, of not fessing up to the "disease" of progressivism.
But I want to know where are the stunned dropped jaws over his insistence that allowing the weak to die is the path to reclaim America’s greatness?
Beck’s just a wingnut, you might say. Pay no attention.
No. This guy is mainstream now. He represents current conservative ideology. He’s deadly serious. And he’s getting through.
If we let these sentiments slide without comment, we are complicit in the coming Randian revolution.
Beck’s lack of sophistication helps us clearly see what savvier conservatives are more careful to hide: many among us with power, money, and resources are single-mindedly spreading the meme that power disparities are precisely what makes America great.
This is not an exaggeration. Look at the following passage from Beck’s speech (found at about 34:30 into the C-Span video:
There is some sort of element to competition to life. "Oh that’s not natural," [says the squishy-sounded liberal]. Oh really? Go out and watch the lions eat the weakest. And that is what America is missing right now. The ability and willingness to compete! To even admit that there’s a competition.
Got that? What America is really missing is lions eating the weakest.
"Everyone won’t get a trophy," he says, conflating reward with survival. "We should be correcting our children’s work in red ink again... "'Well that’s a little traumatic,’" [says the liberal]. "You know what’s even more traumatic? When little Johnnie keeps getting these answers wrong and he goes out into the big bad world and he’s EATEN."
Beck relishes the word eaten, making it sound, not like a tragedy, but like someone more powerful prevailed in an Olympic event.
How does he get away with such blatant championing of this survival-of-the-fittest mentality?
He moves seamlessly between concepts no one would argue with ("It’s not the government’s job to ensure happiness") and pure Randian thought ("Life is not fair, bad guys sometimes win, and some people will die").
It’s precisely these sorts of conflations that help the city employee I see regularly behind the counter at the golf course insist that we don’t have a right to healthcare. He's a friendly fellow -- lower middle class, with a job, a house, and healthcare. A huge Beck fan, he thinks people who don’t have healthcare or housing are simply not willing to work hard enough because they think they’re entitled to happiness with the help of the government.
This kind of conflation is mainstream thought today.
"What we don’t have a right to is healthcare, housing, and hand-outs," says Beck to wild cheers.
Now, take a second to digest this curious Beckian construction:
You do not have a right to NOT pursue success.
This sentiment is key to understanding the conservative mindset that is so incapable of empathy. Beck describes his own life challenges, and how he studied successful people to learn how he could succeed. It’s the old pulling-yourself-up-by-your-own-bootstraps narrative. It dismisses the facts that some people are simply unfortunate, some are incapable, and some are attempting to contribute in important ways that are inherently riskier and more difficult than the single-minded pursuit of financial success. Did you (for example) get a degree in literature instead of business? In Beck’s mind, you’re a parasite and deserve to be eliminated.
Beck talks about growing up above the bakery his family owned. He said he learned to work hard there, to interact with people, etc. It never occurs to him that, even though his family might not have been rich, these skills, imparted to him early in life, gave him quite a leg up in the world of competition.
After years of studying how to emerge on top, Beck became one of the world’s lions. He's now fighting ruthlessly to preserve his power. With the prospect of the pendulum swinging toward a much-needed infusion of progressivism to slow the rapidly widening gap between rich and poor, he’s leading the Fox News pack tirelessly spreading the narrative that it is perfectly natural and acceptable that some of us get eaten.