In a fiery rally speech for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Sunday night, Glenn Beck expressed his belief that God has sent us Ted Cruz as “a man who was raised for these times,” and that God has deliberately prolonged the GOP primary season so that every state in the union will be forced to choose between “good or evil.”
Good Lord. Give me a break!
He then stressed what he regards as the divine importance of this moment in American history.
“Make no mistake, we are being watched,” Beck stated. “We’re being watched by the whole world, but we’re being watched by our Maker.”
“Before I walked out on stage, Ted and I got down on our knees and we prayed. And we didn’t pray for us, we prayed for the nation and for you. He is a servant at heart. He is a man who was raised for these times. People don’t believe that stuff any more, but I do. If God raised George Washington and Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, if He put that collection together, He is the Almighty; I think He can send us one guy!”
Whatever happened to self-determination? And self-responsibility? The thing I admire about people like George Washington, Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine is that they were self-made men. They were ruthlessly individualistic and independent. They went with what their hearts and minds told them was right, and objectively true. They never wavered. They didn’t pray, so much as they thought, and acted, and did so with unprecedented integrity. They didn’t “serve”; they lived fully, and courageously. To this day, we’re all the better for it.
What is wrong with Glenn Beck?
The last time I checked, the Declaration of Independence, which inspired the American Revolution and the authors of the U.S. Constitution, talked about the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The pursuit of happiness is an active, rationally and self-generated activity of an independent individual. Whether that individual prays or not, in order to achieve his goals, he has to actually — in reality — use his mind and efforts in the pursuit of his own interests. America was a nation designed for secular-minded people who, even if they believed in God, believed in a “God who helps those who help themselves.” None of this sounds like the fatalistic nonsense Beck is spouting as a way to earn his living.
Beck’s talk of “being watched” by our “Maker” does not seem fit for a free country, and certainly not for one as secular as the United States has always been. A free country is not about looking to a supernatural being to tell you what to do. That sounds a whole lot more like socialism, or progressivism, to me. The progressives tell us to hand over our thinking, our lives, our property and everything important to a higher being. No, that higher being is not a mystical power. That higher being substitute consists of the bureaucrats and other officials we install in Washington DC to tell us what to think, how to live and what to do. They know better than us. Shut up and do what they say.
“This country took a five thousand year leap,” Beck explained. “Man was warming himself around a fire. For thousands of years we had no light, we had no electricity, we had no heat in our homes. People starved. There was no medicine as we know it now. And something magical happened. In 1791, the Constitution was given birth. The Constitution!”
Magical? Seriously? The Constitution did not come about because of magic. It came about because of ideas. The ideas of John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine and others gave rise to the reality of a Constitution whose sole purpose was to protect man’s individual rights. Nothing like it had ever existed before in history, not in the formation of an entire government. It was special, almost unbelievable, and too much for even early twenty-first century intellectuals to appreciate, for sure. But it was not magic. It was real. The proof of that is the magnificent civilization it spawned: A civilization based on reason, science, technology, free markets and, above all, individualism. Remnants of those virtues are with us today, but they’re fading fast, as Beck (to his credit) recognizes; but it will take more than magic, prayers and wishful thinking to bring any of it back. It will take real, thinking people.
“Man’s rights,” Beck continued, “that came from God were enshrined in a document, and the government was established for the sole purpose of protecting those rights. And because of that – because now you lived in a place where somebody could have an idea — you could have an idea or I could have an idea. I could be poor, but I could put sweat equity into it. And I would work day and night, and I would pursue my happiness. And no one could take that away from me.”
Exactly. But those rights did not come from God. They came from ideas; the ideas of actual, real and important human beings who had the intelligence to develop them and the courage to express them. The ideas of reason, the rational pursuit of happiness in life, and the corresponding sovereignty each and every individual has over his or her existence.
Beck talks about fatalism and determinism. If this borderline delusional prattle is the alternative to progressivism and socialism, then progressivism wins, hands down. He talks about how we are all subject to the will and superiority of a higher being who knows what’s best for us. At the end of the day, that’s not a whole lot different from what the leftists and progressives preach. The difference is that they don’t ask for your prayers and faith. They simply demand your submission to their will.
If Glenn Beck thinks we will restore America by installing the equivalent of a fundamentalist Christian theocracy, he’s beyond delusional. For one thing, it won’t sell, not in today’s world. For another, it shouldn’t. Contrary to what people like him think, church and state were supposed to be separate, just as economy and state were supposed to be separate. We don’t repair the error of blending economy and state by blending religion and state on top of it. This is conservatism’s fatal flaw, and is another reason why the conservative Republican Party has imploded.
To paraphrase one of my favorite thinkers of the twentieth century, Ayn Rand, the point here is not to return to morality, but to discover it. Morality consists not of faith or service to anyone, other than to the service of one’s own life (including those one loves and values).
That’s the morality of individualism. Nothing else can or will make America – or any other place – great again.
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