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
Glenn Beck has written his first suspense-thriller fiction novel, The Overton Window. Debuting at number one on the New York Times bestseller list, it combines action and intrigue with romance, as its main characters seem to be from two completely different worlds.
Noah Gardiner is educated and wealthy, the rising vice president of a high-powered New York City PR firm whose owner is his father, Arthur Isaiah Gardner. The female main character is Molly Ross, a grassroots activist with a commitment to promoting the liberties espoused by the Founding Fathers.
I conducted an email interview with Glenn Beck on July 12.
Elise Cooper: What is the theme of the book?
Glenn Beck: The book centers around a hundred year plan to fundamentally transform and destroy America as we know it, and the plan kicks into high gear after the country suffers a “crisis” situation. The book is called The Overton Window because in order for the plan to be successful, public perception must be swayed. The Overton Window is the technique that can get the job done.
ED: Why did you write it as a novel instead of a non-fiction book?
GB: I’ve always been fascinated and entertained by thriller novels. I talk to authors of the genre on my program all the time. It’s a gripping format, and it allows you to push the limits of where the mind is willing to go. That said, like many other great thriller novels, The Overton Window is based largely in truth. There were even a few parts we had to edit out of the book because they actually happened before it went to print. Plus I was kinda hoping to beat Stephen King on the bestseller list, since he thinks conservatives can’t read.
EC: Do you consider the book’s theme/message optimistic or pessimistic? You talk about the system being broken beyond repair while at the same time saying that we have the freedom to choose our own pursuit of happiness. Please explain.
GB: I know this is sort of a copout — but both, really. It’s clearly pessimistic, unless you are a progressive who doesn’t mind the end of America as we know it, because you see how vulnerable America and her freedoms truly are. But at the same time it’s optimistic because we already have the solution to the problem, and it lies with us. As long as we are aware and willing to sacrifice our lives, fortunes, and sacred honor — no government would ever get away with snatching freedoms from us.
EC: In the book you seem to view both the right (“a fringe group of dangerous heirs to the likes of Timothy McVeigh”) and left extremists (“Instead of Bill Ayers given them Benjamin Franklin”) as a threat to America’s foundation. Please explain.
GB: Any extremist — suicide bombing Islamic, abortion bombing Christians, Pentagon bombing Bill Ayers, McVeigh and Malcom X — all of them are completely insane. Resorting to violence is of course 100% the wrong thing to do, for a million reasons, and that goes for both the left and the right. Violence is not only immoral, it’s ineffective. The only thing it does is cause government to say “see, those crazy Christians or those crazy Muslims need to be stopped” and when government steps in, it only gets worse. They get more power, and you get less. Just how progressives want it.
EC: Why did you use the quotes from John Adams (“We are a government of laws, not men”), Thomas Paine, Dr. King, Carroll Quigley, and Winston Churchill?
Beck: I used them because I believe all of them, in their own way, provide us with many of the answers to the problems we are facing today. They experienced what I believe we are currently experiencing and may experience in the future if we are not careful.
EC: Which one is your favorite and why?
GB: Right now I’d have to go with Dr. King [“No lie can live forever”] as my favorite. He believed in the American people — he truly believed that when they fully understood the level of injustice that was happening, and once they were completely informed, Americans would choose the right side. I believe the same is true today with progressives and their veiled mission to fundamentally transform America. When Americans understand the true meaning behind “fundamental transformation” they will choose the right side.
EC: You talk about restoring America instead of transforming it. Is transformation another word for change?
GB: No, change and transformation are completely different. Change represents making adjustments and fixes to the system we are currently operating under, transformation is completely changing our operating system. When Obama says he wants to fundamentally transform America, he doesn’t mean have less lobbyists around. Progressives don’t believe in the Constitution — they think it’s outdated and the president even bemoaned that it’s a “charter of negative liberties,” which is a good thing, but he doesn’t think so. He doesn’t like our system of merit, and wants to fundamentally transform it into one of “rights” such as the right to a job, health care, a home, and so on.
EC: Restoration to you is preserving — can you be specific as to what values you want to preserve?
GB: Faith, hope and charity. Right now we are relying more and more on government every single day. We’ve got unemployment benefits that run for 2 years, and they want to continue extending them almost indefinitely! I know people are struggling, but that’s not what America is about. When we are centered on those principles and values, we’re the greatest nation on the planet.
EC: The good guy’s desires were summed up with the words: faith, hope, charity. The bad guy’s desires were summed up with the words: fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Can you explain what you meant by these words and why you used them?
GB: What made us great in the first place is that we weren’t dependent on the government. We trusted in God and believed this country was divinely inspired, we believed in the power of the individual, and we helped our neighbors in need through churches and the community. Well, you can clearly see what we are: in debt, weak, and a nation of dependents.
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.