Glenn Beck's Dose of Common Sense for America

In my family I am an island, the lone conservative and sole person to ever vote Republican. This has resulted in few political discussions coming up in my presence. However, the other day while speaking to my mother -- a devout leftist who regularly refers to the hosts of MSLSD by their first names -- the beltway sledge seeped into our conversation. I could not resist expressing disgust over the bizarre cult that has formed around our shallow and foppish president, Barack Obama. I wondered aloud why leftists seem uniformly incapable of criticizing any of their co-religionists. My mother took exception and countered with the ubiquitous Democratic debating tactic of "I know you are but what am I."

She claimed that it is our side which drinks the Kool-Aid regarding politics and dared me, as a member of the opposition, to say something critical about an ideological teammate. I thought for a moment and proffered, "I think there's something wrong with Glenn Beck." My mother, feeling conciliatory, said, "Yes, I agree. There is something wrong with Glenn Beck."

Many conservatives have had similar experiences with those on the emotive end of the political spectrum, but one must acknowledge that their "no enemies on the left" strategy has been wildly successful. Indeed, via a mixture of lying, denial, electioneering, and projecting their personal neuroses as public policy initiatives, the Democratic Party has captured both the legislative and executive branches of the federal government.

Given the left's transcendence, this year is not the ideal moment for disparaging one's fellow conservatives. Yet numerous times while watching Beck's wildly popular television show, I have found myself pleading with the host not to cry and to please purge himself of an Oprahesque demeanor.

Knowing the unpredictability of his personality, I was somewhat skeptical regarding the merits of his new book, Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine. Luckily, my fears proved unfounded. The book is strong and will serve everyday Americans admirably in their attempt to defend themselves against the noxious and self-righteous utterances of those Democratic drones that surround them.

Admittedly, Common Sense is merely a good book and no Liberty and Tyranny: A Conservative Manifesto. Unlike the latter it will not be a work that is regarded as a classic 50 years from now. Beck's offering is very much a response to the pathology that is the present and is more pep talk than intellectual dreadnaught.

No matter, at the time of this writing, it has already risen to number one on both Amazon's bestseller list and that of the New York Times -- which, of course, declined to review it.

The author's (lamentably brief) analysis consists of about 110 pages while the last 50 are devoted to republishing Thomas Paine's original work from 1776. Each section manages to enlighten.

As a host, Beck is occasionally funny but always lively. Such a countenance translates well from the glowing screen to the page, as evidenced by this sentence: "If the job of a congressman were described candidly and truthfully, only two types of people would apply: Jimmy Stewart's idealist Mr. Smith, or a grifter."

As a writer, Beck will never be confused with Roger Kimball in terms of refinement, but he scores points throughout in the manner of Sugar Ray Leonard at the Montreal Olympics. His narration is a series of jabs and counterpunches that succinctly describe the government's malignant and negligent role in bringing about the current crisis.

Beck cuts through the fatuous rhetoric that obscures contemporary political debate and uses, well, common sense to say what many pundits are incapable of saying. Most of his arguments are incontrovertible and put many of the free-floating notions that fueled the tea parties of April into written form.

Benjamin Franklin bequeathed to us a republic and hoped we could keep it. Beck -- examining the bailout mania of the past year and the absurdity of a president attempting to spend his way out of debt -- is not sure we can.

The questions he raises are troublesome, specifically: Why are so many of our politicians lawyers? Why have so few ever worked in the private sector or run their own business? Why has a nearly 700-mile border fence, authorized in 2005, not yet been built? How can destroying the free market save it? Are there really 500 banks in America that are "too big to fail"? These are the types of queries which the state-run mainstream media would never trouble the president with because ... they are unanswerable.

Beck is, quite rightly, skeptical of government being able to solve any "problem" or perform any task efficiently. The House bank scandal is mentioned and its lessons should never be forgotten. The facts of the case involve various congressmen writing "8,331 bad checks from July 1989 to June 1990."

Soon after the orgy of corruption became known, the House of Representatives bank was closed, yet we are supposed to be foolish enough to believe that a group of adventurers who cannot even honestly run a small-scale institution should now be empowered to supervise our entire financial infrastructure. There is far more evidence to support Beck's conclusion, that we are being led by a cabal of parasites, than the alternative, which is that our politicians are noble folks serving the nation.

The author references a statement from George Washington: "Government is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force; like fire, a troublesome servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action." This is eerily topical in light of Barack Obama and his unsavory fetish for placing czars atop the federocracy. We must respond. It is our duty to oversee our overseers. Should we not do so, we give tyranny tacit approval.

And what have our guardians done with all the power to which they have been bestowed? To paraphrase the words of Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, they are breaking us. We are ensconced in a "toxic debt spiral" wherein we spent over $400 billion to pay off interest on our debt during the fiscal year of 2008.

The Obama administration's budgets over the next decade will increase our overall deficits by $9.3 trillion. Eventually, the sheer immensity of our federal obligations will result in a massive tax increase of one kind or another.

The vehicle for confiscating funds from the productive class and transferring them to the government is the U.S. tax code, which Beck terms "the weapon of choice." This is correct as nothing unites common men and the political elite more than confusion over the morass that is the federal tax code. In 1913 it consisted of 14 pages while today it has reached over 67,000 pages in length.

The Heartland Institute estimates that, on aggregate, Americans waste nearly $300 billion annually on tax compliance. These millions are squandered and represent hours and wages lost forever. Where does President Obama, a man whose every syllable resounds with haughty incompetence and irresponsibility, stand on the issue of the IRS?

Well, unlike most conundrums, Obama has taken a definite stand on those agents who abscond with our property. His budget calls for a doubling of funds allocated for tax enforcement. This fact is an independent indictment of his leadership and not something that even he can pin on George W. Bush.

Beck believes that our byzantine tax code continues to appeal to our politicians for offensive and defensive reasons. The complexity allows for officials to do favors for those special interest groups they support while simultaneously granting them the capacity to crush their enemies -- see, for instance, the State of New York's treatment of Rush Limbaugh.

There can be no doubt that, as Chief Justice John Marshall noted, "The power to tax is the power to destroy." We all would do well to remember his warning. Beck echoes the suggestion of Thomas Sowell and believes that by moving our election days to April 16 we would significantly curtail the kleptocractic behaviors of our government.

In 2009, the citizenry is disinterested, distant, and befuddled, but they are not stupid. If the Republican Party can find a standard bearer capable of articulating the message of common sense -- i.e., conservatism -- the GOP will find the ground fertile for winning elections. The truth sells when it is made available. While Glenn Beck's profile suggests that he cannot run for office, he has served his country well by providing our paladins with arguments that they can learn and sing.