Glenn Beck is Right

Glenn Beck has taken a lot of heat, even among people who don’t like Trump, for suggesting that tea partiers who are supporting Trump are racist. Having read what Beck said, I have to say that he is exactly right, although really the point he was making wasn’t about racism at all.

Let me draw an analogy that will be familiar to people who are even casual fans of hockey. Every hockey team at pretty much every level of play has a guy who is commonly referred to as an “enforcer.” I can recall that for many years, my favorite team (the Nashville Predators) had a guy on the team named Jordin Tootoo. Year after year, Tootoo was voted the most hated player in hockey. He was dirty, he started fights, he drew penalties, he got under the other team’s skin on purpose, and he had few appreciable hockey skills.

All these things made Tootoo a natural target for every opposing team in the league and their fans. But in Nashville, Tootoo was far and away one of the most popular guys on the ice because he played for us. We loved the way he got to the other teams. But every other team had a guy that we loved to hate, and when you asked any of us why we hated that person, it would read like a list of things that we loved about Tootoo – e.g., he doesn’t do anything but start fights, he’s a goon, he’s just out there to try to draw penalties against more skilled players or goad them into a fight.

What Glenn Beck is essentially saying is that the tea partiers who support Trump are exactly like hockey fans in that way. They claimed all this time to hate Obama for what he did, not who he was. And yet, here comes along a guy who supports all those same things, and the tea partiers are cheering wildly:

Well, lots of calls from the trump zombies wanting me to retract what I said when I thought out loud and questioned: what explains your hatred for the progressive policies of Obama and yet your love for the progressive policies of trump?

Is it possible that you except it from trump and not from Obama because one is on your side? One is republican and one is not? Is it possible that it really was all about race?

Maybe because I can’t think of any other reason that excuses such a huge flip flop. This is not some of the same things. This is almost all of the same things.

Tea party people said they were for small government and the constitution. An IRS that was under control. The fact that that Obama really felt universal healthcare was viable we thought was nuts. We said: no NSA spying. No executive orders, no flip flopping, no arrogance and maybe some humility?

* * *

You hated Barack Obama’s cult-like followers, with their mindless stares of adoration, their impervious barrier between emotion and reason, and their instant fury when confronted with the facts about his record, his history, or his philosophy.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated Obama’s shallow, facile rhetoric, with its hollow promises and loose, lowest-common-denominator word-vomit disconnected from any real policy.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated how Obama was gleefully lying to credulous low information voters, filling them with empty promises of economic prosperity that would never come, based on plans that could never be achieved.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated how Obama lied about his positions on single-payer healthcare, gay marriage, gun control, and abortion to get elected, knowing that if he ever revealed the truth about what he believed that he’d be unelectable.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated how Obama rode the wave of constant attention from the mainstream media into office, and how they played along with his game, draining the life out of every other candidate by describing him as an inevitable juggernaut, an unstoppable political force, and a game-changer who was tapping into something deep and powerful in American political life.

But you love it from Trump.

And on and on.

I think that it’s not about race – that’s just a provocative thing for Glenn Beck to say to get people to stop and think. I think the key thing really is that Barack Obama wears a jersey that says “Democrat” and Trump wears one that says “Republican.”

Consider how the folks over at Trumpbart, who allege that they stand for true conservatives, gleefully reported on the following things as though they were admirable:

Those of us outside a provincial bubble saw the following…

Trump got 20,000 Texas conservatives to applaud at the idea of taxing the rich.

Trump got 20,000 Texas conservatives to applaud at the idea of President Trump muscling a CEO not to move his company overseas — an Obama-esque abuse of executive power.

Trump got 20,000 Texas conservatives to applaud at the idea of rethinking free trade.

Trump got 20,000 Texas conservatives to applaud when he said he would not shred Obama’s Iran deal on day one but would instead try to make it work with stronger inspections.

How on earth is this explainable in any other way than sports fandom that refuses to look beyond the jersey that the candidate is ostensibly wearing?

What’s most baffling is that the people who are voting for Trump are the ones who proclaim loudly that they are the ones who stand for issues while the “Establishment” (which somehow includes me, a lawyer from Nashville who has never lived or worked in DC in his life) cares only about expanding their power.

The fandom of Trump has become so bizarrely Orwellian and devoid of self awareness that a Trumpbart headline actually read yesterday, with no trace of irony: “While the Establishment Demands Purity, Trump Expands the Base.” Seriously.

Say what you want about Glenn Beck, but he is almost alone among the prominent national radio and TV voices on the right who has refused to attempt to monetize the Trump boom by treating it as a legitimate expression of conservatism. Glenn Beck’s point is not that Trump supporters are racist; rather, Glenn Beck’s point is that his supporters are doing it for reasons that have nothing to do with what Trump stands for. And he is attempting to get people to look in the mirror and realize what the basis of their support really is.

For the people who were Obama supporters who have become disillusioned with Obama and have gone over to Trump, at least they are consistent. But for the people who protested and stood in the streets and made signs that expressed their disgust with Obama and who are now supporting Trump, they are deceiving themselves if they think that they are anything other than a sports fan who has transferred their rooting habits to a political movement instead of a team.

And when it comes to that Glenn Beck is exactly right.

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