Even as the curtain was falling on him at Fox News, I liked Glenn Beck. Though he allegedly lacked a college degree, he would take time to do more than comment; he would teach when he thought the average viewer needed it. While others at Fox reportedly derided this practice and Beck’s show, I thought he made legitimate and informative efforts to tie history, politics, economics, law, and morality together.
I cannot offer him my concord on his take of the presidential campaign, specifically the Republican. Beck takes his conservatism to heart, but I have to wonder whether he has become sauced on it, so that he cannot appreciate a broader and deeper reality.
Indeed, I worry about the man. When I see Beck on TV, his face reddens and bloats to toadish proportions. One cannot avoid the feeling that his head might explode as his principled apoplexy rages. Cardiac arrest may be only a Trump nomination away. Certainly, a Sanders presidency would induce it.
Today, in the wake of his endorsement of Ted Cruz, Beck stated on his radio show that establishment conservatives had rallied around Donald Trump two weeks ago but now that Marco Rubio finished third in Iowa they were shifting their support to the Florida senator. What Beck expressed and implied in bits and pieces was that establishment conservatives wanted someone who would continue the status quo, which includes crony capitalism. The last thing that party wants is a man like Cruz, whose constitutional and legal ideals will erode their power and their profit, despite the other ways in which we are to understand Cruz is conservative.
A number of problems exist with Beck’s sentiments. First, establishment conservatives weren’t rallying around Trump. The National Review presses are still sizzling from the printing of their half-baked essays bundled together and blandly titled: “Against Trump”. This cabal of conservative writers condemned the real-estate mogul and billionaire businessman. Certainly the Jeb Bushes and Marco Rubios of the world, and their many and wealthy supporters, have never condoned the Trump candidacy much less his nomination as a “true conservative.” They cannot even tolerate his presence on the debate stage. No Republicans in the Senate or the House have offered Trump their backing. In fact, embittered South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has roundly vilified Trump – repeatedly.
Rubio was always one of the establishment boys, and analysts have been pondering which one of them would find the “open lane” to get into a meaningful race with the two highest performing outsiders, Trump and Cruz.
Second, while I would not agree with Beck on everything he would consider a conservative principle, even if I acknowledge Cruz’s conservative credentials, it does not of necessity make him the best man for the job of president. Few of us like a Mr. Perfect, the guy who can do no wrong, who always corrects you, even the fellows in his own group, because he knows the way everything should be. Cruz’s healing preacher approach to politics not only annoys but puts off then incites anger and opposition. His utterance that “Morning is coming” after a win in an Iowa caucus that usually never signals the winner of a party’s nomination has the sound of air being released slowly from the butthole of a balloon.
Beck misses what most other political advocates and pundits miss: that elections are won by small margins: 50.5% to 49.5%, or 52% to 48%. Electoral landslides bury opponents but far less so popular votes. The mandates presidential and congressional winners believe they have for every plank in their platforms doesn’t exist. Nearly half the population still disagrees. To go on a policy binge is to incite civil disquiet, and that disquiet among American citizens has become a tangible restlessness. It should not be dismissed, from whichever side it comes.
The notion that Cruz can ignore the thoughts and sentiments of the other half of Americans – in his case it might be the other two-thirds – because of his constitutional convictions will sink most assuredly in the peat bogs of presumption. What friends in Congress will Mr. Cruz be able to rely on when he finds himself stuck?
Therein, perhaps, lies Mr. Cruz’s greatest liability: not his beliefs, but his manner. Is it conservative to be unfriendly? Unlikable? Paternal and condescending? His inability, or perhaps his unwillingness, to cultivate friends and allies cripples his candidacy from its infancy.
I don’t know how much the status quo changes even when candidates from different political parties are elected president. What some research indicates (today Laura Ingraham spoke of Pew Center stats on the decline of the middle class over the last 30 years) is that our national slide and our unwillingness to accept it any longer have mounted under Republican and Democratic administrations. We have found no succor and no relief save patchwork pieces of legislation here and there, crumbs for the dogs.
That must end, by any and all means, and I am willing to look at a Trump or a Sanders or, yes, even a Cruz, but not because of any strict “conservative” or “liberal” principles, but because of specific policies to remedy our ills and make us stronger once again.