I didn’t see any of Glenn Beck’s rally at the Lincoln Memorial this weekend. Just didn’t have the stomach for it. But his call to “restore America” brought back some memories of a rally that was held here in Virginia a few months ago by a gun rights group. They came to the local park because President Obama had just signed a new law allowing gun owners to bring their weapons into national parks. I guess that action was necessary to protect park goers from a hard charging deer or a rabid possum.
Out of curiosity, I went to the rally. There were about 30 gun toting folks there, some had long guns around their shoulders but most were carrying revolvers in their holsters. They were all white men, wearing very dark sunglasses and camouflage vests to help them blend in with the tot lots. The media outnumbered the participants.
When the speeches started, I listened intently, honestly trying to get a sense of what this group was concerned about. There was a lot of screaming and yelling about “taking back the Constitution” and getting rid of “the politicians who don’t even listen to us anymore.” Every time a speaker would shout one of these one-liners, the crowd would go nuts for five seconds, then it was back to listening to the cicadas.
After one of the speakers finished, he climbed down from the stage and waded into that crowd of 30 or so folks, soaking up the adulation, savoring his Martin Luther King on the Lincoln Memorial moment. He was beaming as the audience yelled “Way to tell it brother!” and “Right on my friend!” When he was able to escape from the massive crowd, I walked over to him and introduced myself.
I told him he had a good speaking style but I then said that I really don’t understand what his group wanted. What is your message, I asked?
“Well, like I said, we need to take back the Constitution. These politicians don’t represent us anymore, they’re just cow-towing to the fat cat lobbyists and spending our money like drunken sailors.”
I asked him where he was from and he mentioned a town in Arizona. I reminded him that his Congressman was a very conservative guy who probably supported the group’s agenda 95 percent of the time. “Well, I don’t care,he’s not listening to us. He takes all of these junkets and makes way too much money. “ I asked him, then, if he was going to vote against the Congressman. “Nah, voting doesn’t make any difference, these elections are rigged anyway.” Hmmmmm.
I then got back to his message. “What do you mean when you say you need to take the Constitution back? Where exactly is it?” I think he picked up on my facetiousness. “It’s my Constitution, damn it, and with this health care bill and all of these illegal immigrants, well, they’ve taken it away from us.”
My head is now spinning totally out of control. Okay, I thought, let’s try to connect one more time.
“What about this,” I said. “What if you were sitting with President Obama in the Oval Office right now and he told you he would do two things at that very moment that you requested. What specifically would you ask him?”
“Well, like I told you, I would ask him to follow the Constitution.” My eyes started to roll to the back of my head but, before that, I tried again. “But the President would say he follows the Constitution every day, what specifically would you want him to do?” At this point, I thought I saw him start to slowly reach for his constitutionally protected weapon, but I held my ground. “Well, I’d tell him to protect our guns.”
“But he just signed a law the other day that actually expanded gun rights. And do you really think he is dumb enough to suggest that the government take away all of your guns?”
“Well, he’s a smart boy, I’ll give him that but I want him to promise that he’ll leave us alone.”
So, is that what this rally was all about? What the hell do these people want, anyway? What does Glenn Beck want?
- Glenn Beck Is On Fire (observer.com)
- Glenn Beck: Making Sense of the Man and the Movement (politicsdaily.com)
- Chase Whiteside: Interviews with Participants at Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” Rally (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Lois Kazakoff: Obama’s religion, Glenn Beck and America (sfgate.com)
- Glenn Beck, Preacher in Chief (tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com)
- Glenn Beck Rally at Lincoln Memorial Sparks Controversy (brainz.org)