An Interview with Glenn Beck
The talk radio and television megastar has written a book that is both a warning about a possible future for the U.S. and a good-old fashioned political thriller.
July 25, 2010 - 12:00 am
EC: It seems that a central point throughout the book is we should start over again. Am I correct? Also, why should we start over and how can we start over?
GB: Without giving too much away, that quote has dual meaning in the book. I don’t personally think we need to start over, I just think we’ve forgotten who it is we really are. We’ve been sold a bill of goods by big government progressives, and they’ve neatly packaged it and delivered it to us in dribs and drabs over the years: a little social security here, Medicare there, Medicaid. We’ve lost ourselves. We have to remember who we are – the nation that changed the world, for the better. What will the world do without the shining city on the hill? Where will freedom seekers run to if America is just like every other bloated government in the world? And Americans already know how to start over. It’s in our DNA. We only need to wake up out of our slumber and realize that there are those in power who are trying to transform America into something it wasn’t designed to be.
EC: Why did you use this quote:“Slavery and tyranny have been the rule for thousands of years but freedom is the short lived exception.”
GB: That’s from Professor Thomas Sowell, one of the smartest conservative thinkers out there. This quote has always resonated with me because it underscores how so many people have such a short term view of history. People take freedom for granted. We’ve always had it in our lifetime, so it’s understandable for that to happen. But when you zoom out of your day to day life and put what our Founders accomplished in context with the history of the world, it becomes clear that what we have is a gift from above. No other time period in history had civilizations with this much freedom — it was always riddled with tyrants, oppressive kings and regimes. Look around the world today even and you’ll see dictators and oppressive governments. We have to understand that what we have is the greatest miracle this planet has ever seen, and it can and will go away if we allow it to.
EC: In what way do you consider the system broken?
GB: Oh boy, where do I start? There are so many problems, but I’ll start by saying just look at how twisted the meaning of “serving” the public has become. George Washington was practically begged to stay on a third term as president – he turned it down. Founders and many early politicians gave up lucrative careers to spend time serving. It actually was a sacrifice to do so. Now? Look at the type of person who is attracted to office. Someone who knows they can accumulate power, makes a ton of money, and is set for life with incredible benefits and speaking fees and so on. How is that serving? Regular Joes aren’t running for office anymore – we’re mostly getting the dirt bags. On both sides of the aisle, too – how else can you explain the mess we’ve gotten into, which never seems to get better no matter which side is in power? If you read the Carroll Quigley quote [“The two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy…”] in the book, you’ll understand why that is.
EC: You made a statement that Lincoln would not have been able to get elected today. “It costs a billion dollars to run for president these days. Abraham Lincoln would never have lasted past the Iowa caucuses,” and there was a negative reaction to politicians. Can you please explain?
GB: First of all, his nickname was “honest” Abe. Talk about an outcast. But think of the machine that’s in place right now. You either align with it and get behind the power, or you are done. The good news on that front is we are seeing a lot of tea party candidates take on GOP establishment candidates and win. That’s part of the hope and optimism.
EC: Do you want to explain about the “Overton Window” — for example your analogy to the airline security checks?
GB: The Overton Window is basically a way to visualize what citizens consider politically acceptable moves over time. A variety of things can move it — arguments, events, even lies can move it. If you operate outside the window you risk a backlash, called Overton’s revenge. One of the ways those with an agenda get the Overton Window to move rapidly is by using a crisis to make the argument for more intervention or more control, that under normal circumstances people would not accept. Before 9-11 we would never have accepted having to take our shoes off and wait in line for extra hours. The politician that brought that policy about, before 9-11, would be trashed. But, in light of what happened, the Overton Window was moved and here we are, getting wanded every time we fly.
EC: Do you think the real leaders are business and the media?
GB: I think real leaders are all among us – teachers, moms, dads, baseball coaches, mechanics, farmers, you name it. All you need to be a great leader is the courage of your convictions and a little common sense. This notion that you have to be rich, have a Harvard education and all of the world capitols memorized is nonsense.
EC: Do you think your scenario regarding the connection between the terrorists and the Patriot movement is plausible: “If they’re really trying to bring this war back home ["Islamo-Fascists"] — they need a boogeyman right here on its soil, and they need to connect him to past events and to the Patriot movement so they can demonize the resistance.”
GB: I think that people have to always remain vigilant as to how they could be used by others. Everyone seems to have an agenda and you don’t want to be a bit player in someone else’s. In terms of the Patriot movement, we’ve already heard from Missouri that those who go to these kinds of rallies might be extremists. Is it far-fetched to think that someone with ulterior motives might one day use the tea party and the media’s negative view of them to their advantage? No, I don’t think it is.
EC: Is your goal to get Americans to think and question more — awakening them?
GB: Absolutely. We’ve gotten lazy, but we are being tested — I know many of my listeners and viewers know that progressives are trying to radically change the country, but I also want them to understand that it is their responsibility to stop this change. If they want to see America restored, then it’s time to step up to the plate. No one is going to do it for you.
EC: Are you planning on writing a sequel since you left the ending somewhat open ended?
GB: I’d love to keep writing books; hopefully I can get some more out before conservative and libertarian views are deemed “hate speech” by the government. But quite honestly I hope we get on a path towards restoration, so I can start writing about the things I truly love: donuts, cake, ice cream, cookies. You know, the stuff that used to be important in our lives, and I hope one day truly are again.