Also in today’s Jolt:
Did Glenn Beck ‘Tear the Country Apart’? Did Anybody?
You won’t believe who’s accusing Glenn Beck, formerly of Fox News and currently running The Blaze, of “helping tear the country apart”!
Later in the segment, [Megyn] Kelly asked Beck to reflect on his time as a TV host at Fox News. His answer may surprise some people.
Though he remembers the job being a lot of fun, Beck also revealed that he has some regrets about the way he handled himself on the air.
“I remember it as an awful lot of fun and that I made an awful lot of mistakes, and I wish I could go back and be more uniting in my language,” he said. “I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart.”
First, has the country been “torn apart”?
I think you can set the bar for “torn apart” pretty high, considering how we’ve had an actual civil war in this country. We’ve had unsuccessful secession movements pretty regularly. Mansfield University geography professor Andrew Shears built a map to depict what the country would look like if every local secession movement had succeeded, a country of 124 states:
If Beck really means America is deeply politically divided, indeed, it is, but I’m not so sure our divisions would look that much better or different if Glenn Beck had remained a wacky “Morning Zoo” radio DJ his entire life. I’m glad Beck developed his interest and passion for politics, and developed The Blaze; he and his folks have been kind enough to have me on several times, including on Election Night 2012. Beck articulated a viewpoint, and built a devoted following, but he didn’t create the division in this country, he just reflected it.
We’re a divided country because we have 317 million people, and at least two major strands of thought and philosophy about the role of the government.
It’s a broad generalization, but we have red states and blue states. Ideally, we would have let each part of the country live the way it wants, as long as its laws didn’t violate the Constitution. You want high taxes and generous public benefits? Go ahead and have them; we’ll see if your voters vote with their feet. Let Illinois be Illinois, and let South Carolina be South Carolina.
Last fall I took a trip to Seattle, Washington, and the surrounding area. It seemed like every menu, store display, and sign emphasized that the offered products were entirely organic, biodegradable, free range, pesticide-free, fair trade, cruelty-free, and every other environmentally conscious label you can imagine. (The television show Portlandia did a pretty funny sketch about the ever-increasing, ever-more-specific variety of recycling bins, with separate bins for the coffee cup, the coffee-cup lid, the coffee-cup sleeve, and the coffee-cup stirrer; there’s a separate bin if the lid has lipstick on it.) Maybe it’s just a natural consequence that when you have Mount Rainier and Puget Sound outside your window, you become a crunchy tree-hugging environmentalist. If that’s the way they want to live up there, that’s fine. The food was mostly excellent. Let the Seattle-ites elect a Socialist to their city council. Let Sea-Tac try a $15/hour minimum wage and see if the airport Starbucks starts charging 20 bucks for a small latte.
As long as other parts of the country are allowed to pursue their own paths, that’s fine.
But a big part of the problem is that we have an administration in Washington that is determined to stomp out the state policies it doesn’t like. The president doesn’t want there to be any right-to-work states. His Department of Justice is doing everything possible to obstruct Louisiana’s school-choice laws. They’re fighting state voter-ID laws in court, insisting that it violates the Constitution, even though the Supreme Court ruled, 6 to 3, that requiring the showing of an ID does not represent an undue burden on voters.
This you-must-comply attitude can be found in the states as well, of course. Hell, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to drive pro-lifers, Second Amendment supporters, and what he labels “anti-gay” out of his state. Mayors decree that they won’t allow Chick-fil-A in their cities because of the opinions of the owners. In Oregon, state officials decreed that a baker must make a wedding cake for a gay wedding; the state decrees you are not permitted to turn down a work request that you believe violates your conscience or religious beliefs.
The country would be “torn apart” less if we were allowed to address more of our public-policy problems on a local or state basis. But anti-federalism is in the cellular structure of liberalism. All of their solutions are “universal,” “comprehensive,” or “sweeping.” Everything must be changed at once, for everyone, with no exceptions. Perhaps it’s a good approach for some other species, but not human beings.
That’s not Glenn Beck’s fault.