The Real Goal of the Beck Rally

By Jack R. Rollwagen

There was quite a flurry of articles written in the days following the rally by Glenn Beck in Washington, DC. Since the Beck rally was organized to occur on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s rally and at the Lincoln Memorial, the sense of many of the articles written by progressives was that the Beck rally was timed for August, 28, 2010, so as to draw upon the historicity of that date and its association with Martin Luther King’s appeal to Americans for progressive changes in their government.

However, there is a deeper and more sinister vision of the choice of that date. In my view, that date was chosen primarily because of its relationship to Nov. 2, election date. A national rally, which would bring together Americans who are dissatisfied with the economy and the politicians who are supposed to represent us, who hope for their lives to be better soon, people who want to be proud to be Americans, and who want “to restore honor” to America would be the occasion that conservatives like Beck and others of his stripe would find ripe for the kind of demagoguery that they practice.

Now, there is nothing wrong with expressing dissatisfaction with the economy and the politicians who are supposed to represent us, to hope for our lives to be better soon, to want to be proud to be Americans, and who want to restore honor to America. All of us want that.

But if the hidden agenda behind the Beck rally was to provide a national pulpit for a demagogue to lead people to vote in the direction that he represents in the elections on Nov. 2, then it is clear that the reason none of this was broached at the rally, neither by Glenn Beck nor Sarah Palin, is because it was necessary to rally the troops first and get them fervent in their willingness to follow before they were told what the battle they were to fight was to be. The battle, of course, is the conflict between the conservatives, represented by Beck and Palin, and the progressives, represented, unfortunately, by no one of their drawing power on the other side. In essence, the rally was a deceit. Organizing a rally for one stated purpose so that the troops would then follow their leaders into an economic battle in which the troops would all be wounded or killed by the consequences of a victory is the epitome of deceit. Let me explain.

The overall goal of the conservative strategy in 2010 is, of course, for the conservatives to regain power by any means necessary. The immediate means to that end is for the conservatives to convince enough voters to vote for things that conservatives want: deficit reduction (which implies no more spending on new job creation), the reduction of spending on social welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicaid, and the reinstatement of tax cuts for the wealthy. However, most ordinary Americans would not rally for those causes.

By rallying to express discontent about the economy and the politicians who are supposed to represent us (but don’t), and to restore America’s honor, the conservatives are able to rally the troops and hopefully lead them into economic battle, that is to vote for conservative politicians and against progressive politicians. Never mind the reality that the economic battle proposed by the conservatives (and fought by many working class Americans) would be against the best interests of those working-class Americans, and that it is working-class Americans who would suffer the most if they were to follow the Beck and Palin battle cry. This is culture war, after all. What does it matter if the leaders lie to their troops about the costs, as long as the leaders gain their victory?

Job #1 in America today is job creation. Millions of Americans are out of work, underemployed, or underpaid. Americans need jobs, millions of good paying jobs! The conservative’s response to this tragedy is deficit reduction. They argue that if the economy is to improve, the deficits must be reduced. That is a deceit. There would not be one new job created by deficit reduction. Indeed, deficit reduction would result in many more jobs being lost! If the average American understood that no new jobs would be created by deficit reduction, and even more jobs lost as a result of deficit reduction, what American would vote for deficit reduction rather than job creation directly?

The reason why the argument for deficit reduction, rather than job creation, is so reasonable to many Americans is because of another conservative deceit. The conservatives have concocted a parable that the American economy is like the average American’s household economy. That is, one must gain control over household expenditures in hard times in order to regain household economic stability. The reason why that comparison works in the minds of many Americans is because most Americans confront daily the problems of incomes not sufficient to pay major expenses, and they know that restraining family expenses is the most viable option and perhaps the only option in an economy in which they cannot expect to earn higher wages, get a different (better-paying) job, or reduce many of the necessary costs to the family household (because those costs are dictated by someone else). However, the American economy is NOT like an American family household economy. One of the major differences, for the purpose of this discussion, is that America as a nation has control of its money supply, and the American family household does not. That is, agencies of the federal government, in times of major economic stress, can increase the supply of money available to the American government. The American government can print more money and use that money to pay for the creation of jobs to return American family households and the American economy to economic stability. Abraham Lincoln, a Republican, increased the money supply during the Civil War. And Franklin Delano Roosevelt, a Democrat, did that too during the Great Depression. When the US Treasury prints money and the federal government uses that money to pay for the creation of jobs, this does NOT create an additional deficit as it would if America as a nation would borrow that money from private sources (e.g., domestic or foreign banks or governments) as it does now. Nor would it create inflationary pressures on the dollar.

However, the most direct way by which the American economy could be brought back to stability would be for the government to collect tax monies due but not paid. Letting the tax cuts lapse for wealthy Americans would result in a major addition to the US budget and thus reduce America’s deficit. Having American corporations pay their taxes would bring in incredible amounts of money to the federal coffers. (Two-thirds of American corporations paid NO taxes on income between 1998 and 2005 even though the richest corporations earned billions in profits.)

For most Americans non-payment of their taxes by wealthy individuals and corporations is not only unfair, but criminal. Yet Beck and Palin, as do most conservatives, evade discussing those solutions and denigrate them as solutions to American economic stability and, as true demagogues, try to drag out the red herring of deficit reduction (the impact of which would fall mainly on working Americans, not the already wealthy). Their tactics recently are to repeat the deceitful parable of the American economy being like an American family household economy, which it is not.

So, it should be clear that the Beck/Palin rally was really about the elections in November, and very little about the goals embodied in Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous speech which was, by the way, to a great extent about job creation to end poverty in America. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech arose out of his religious convictions and out of trying to find a means, in part, to help the poor and needy in America. Beck and Palin’s rally USED religion, patriotism, and American’s disgust with their representatives in Washington in order to rally Americans to vote for a package of goods that those Americans would not otherwise vote for.

What America needs now is job creation sufficient to lead to full employment. Every American who wants a job and is able to work should have a job, a good paying job, a job sufficient to allow him or her to pay for food, housing, and a good education for their children. That is the spirit of America! We can do that! We cannot allow ourselves to be misled by conservatives, like Beck and Palin, whose “remedy” for American economic woes would bring a disaster to working Americans and increasing wealth to already wealthy American individuals and corporations. Fight the good fight! See the conservatives’ red herring for what it really is, a “solution” that would bring economic disaster to America. Vote in November for politicians who realize that job creation NOW is what is important. Job creation now will lead to a better life for all Americans, and will eventually lead to deficit reduction and budget surpluses without the pain to working class Americans that the Beck/Palin/conservative agenda would bring. Deficit reduction now will lead to misery for most Americans.

The second Beck rally, this one directly political, is already scheduled. The marching orders from Beck will then be proposed. The first targets will be the progressive politicians who would oppose deficit reduction. We must not let the Beck/Palin deceit and demagoguery win. America’s future is at stake!

Jack R. Rollwagen, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of anthropology at State University of New York in Brockport and editor and publisher of the journal Urban Anthropology and Studies of Cultural Systems and World Economic Development. Email

From The Progressive Populist, October 1, 2010

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