“There are absolutely historical precedents for what is happening with Beck,” said Tom Rosenstiel, the director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism. “There was a lot of radio evangelism during the Depression. People were frustrated and frightened. There are a lot of scary parallels now.”
The conservative writer David Frum said Mr. Beck’s success “is a product of the collapse of conservatism as an organized political force, and the rise of conservatism as an alienated cultural sensibility.”
“It’s a show for people who feel they belong to an embattled minority that is disenfranchised and cut off,” he said.
Joel Cheatwood, a senior vice president for development at Fox News, said he thought Mr. Beck’s audience was a “somewhat disenfranchised” one. And, he added, “it’s a huge audience.”
Our elites have always wanted to reach out to the “disenfranchised.” The trick, however, is that they’ve always wanted to control the proceedings via institutions such as trade unions, community action groups and the like. Glenn Beck–and, for that matter, evangelicals like Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee–basically take that control away from them, which poses a serious problem.
While on the subject of evangelicals, our glorious religion is referred to as the “religion of resentment.” Elites don’t like this because they’re the ones being resented. But resentement is almost a necessity to get any social action movement going. Most trade unions are fuelled by, amongst other things, resentment. I’ve seen that for myself, and on top of that I’ve seen situations where the elites, on a small scale, have developed a symbiotic relationship with those trade unions which helped to perpetuate their own control of the proceedings. Those unfortunate to be caught in the middle were, well, caught in the middle.
The current, Ivy League educated elites we have in the U.S. don’t have the knack to carry out this kind of strategy. Had they done so, they would have gotten to European style socialism a long time ago, and most everyone would have liked it. But they just pass laws and fight. It’s like Spengler says about managing religious conflicts to one’s own advantage: it’s a lost art.
In Glenn Beck’s case, it’s interesting to see a Mormon get in on the act. Mormons aren’t traditionally a resentment-driven bunch; they’d rather see themselves move up like the Romneys and the Mariotts have. But evidently they’re starting to have doubts about whether that works or not any more, and so we have Glenn Beck.