Ah, where would we be without Glenn Beck, the Fox network talk show host and all-around extreme conservative? I’ll deconstruct the December 21 episode of his show, “Restoring the Constitution”, line by line.
(NOTE: I did not cherry-pick this episode. This was the latest available episode when I decided to do this post, on December 22.)
(NOTE: Any inaccuracies reflecting quotes from the show itself are from the Fox transcript, available here)
The enemy to our Constitution is the progressive movement. Stop arguing about Republicans and Democrats, it’s the progressive movement.
If you didn’t know Glenn Beck, you do now. He’s one of those people who pretends he can interpret the Constitution better than the Supreme Court.
Where in the Constitution does it say the word “czar” or anything like it? It doesn’t.
And your point is? ‘Czar’, besides being the term for head of state of the former Russian Empire, is used by the media to describe the presidential administration’s policy advisers. I don’t quite know what Beck is trying to say here, but it’s almost certainly an intended dig at Obama.
(END VIDEO CLIPS, MUSIC)
You would like to believe your show is presented to America in its entirety, wouldn’t you, Beck? The program, however, only draws in 0.7% of the United States population every day.
And welcome to another special edition of “The Glenn Beck Program.”
Tonight, an hour dedicated to the Constitution. Great television, I know. Crazy
This will actually turn out to be an hour dedicated to demonizing the progressive movement. Stay tuned.
Four pages, that’s all it took. And in those four pages, our Founders were able to map out the idea for a country that would ultimately become the most prosperous nation in the history of the planet.
Do you have any evidence for this whatsoever? Blinded by nativism, do you really believe without sound economic basis that the United States is definitely more prosperous than the Roman Empire, the Mongolian Empire, the British Empire, the French Empire, the Dutch Empire, Tang China, Ming China, Mughal India, the Abbasid Caliphate, the Ghanian trading empire, the Aztec Empire, or the Incan Empire? Have you even heard of all of those? You should probably check your sources.
The Constitution’s goal was [to] limit the power of government so the power would lie with you, the people.
This is directly contradicted by your later quasi-historical lecture, about how the Constitution gave the federal government more power than the Articles of Confederation did.
Today, the government has abandoned that whole crazy idea and kept power for itself and keeps gathering more.
Are you seriously suggesting that the government has abandoned the Constitution? Of course you are. You’re Glenn Beck.
So, what’s to blame for that?
After isolating a “problem”, instead of trying to solve it, you start heaping blame on people?
Well, no surprise coming from me. Enemy number one is progressivism.
We are in agreement that this is no surprise.
Tonight, I’ve got two of the Constitution’s staunchest defenders to help me out: author and historian David Barton, founder of WallBuilders; and the one and only good friend of the program, Judge Andrew Napolitano, host of “Freedom Watch” on the FOX Business Network.
Good for you, but no one else. We’ll get to these people later.
So, let’s begin at the beginning: How was the Constitution born? Our Founders started the country after we won the Revolutionary War.
Not true, they started it during the Revolutionary War. You can’t fight and fund a large-scale war without a governmental structure.
And they started our country not with the Constitution, but with something called the Articles of Confederation. It set up such a limited government that the whole thing flew apart. You couldn’t even do business across state lines. The country was a total mess.
The dangers of limited government. Now this is unexpected. I thought you would just skip over this part.
Do you know the first president of the country was? This guy. John Hanson. No, it wasn’t George Washington — John Hanson. But see, I said our country. It’s a different country under the Articles of Confederation.
John Hanson was President of Congress, not of the United States. This position had mostly ceremonial responsibilities. A direct analogue of this position is held today by not Barack Obama, but Joe Biden.
They first put it right here. It was too close to anarchy. It didn’t work. It fell apart. Every state was fighting against each other, cheating against each other. It was too close to anarchy.
Actually, the main reason the Confederation fell apart was because of the issue of state and national debt. Many states refused to pay the federal government, something they could do under the Articles. States were not “fighting against each other” as you allege; you’re quite a bit early in history for that.
So, in 1785, Congress knew that it wasn’t working. And unbeknownst to them, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson had been exchanging letters and they were trying to work on a totally new system of government. They knew that they were never going to get something this radical past any members of Congress, any of the states, because nobody trusted anybody anymore.
They were never going to get this past “any of the states”? Actually, every state ratified the Constitution.
But they have this thing called a republic. It moved this government a little farther down, moved it to about here.
“Republic” derives from the Latin res publica, meaning “matter of the people.”
But they needed somebody to help bring everybody together. They needed somebody that they could trust, that everyone in the room would trust. They needed someone who they knew would bring everybody together, everybody would trust, and in the end, would do the right thing even at his own expense.
Actually, no. All they needed was a stronger government, as you got so close to admitting earlier. The Constitution, of course, did not mention George Washington, and the main difference between the two documents was simply the amount of power given to the government.
DAVID BARTON: George Washington got a bunch of them together and said we need to look at redoing the Articles of Confederation, which led to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 where they did get together and redo the articles … they looked at it and said let’s scrap it and start again. And that’s where it became the Constitution.
It pains me to say that Beck was actually in the right here. Madison and Jefferson, not Washington, “got a bunch of them together” at the Constitutional Convention. Any actual historian should know this.
When you look at the Founders’ idea for the nation, it was that the people would be in charge through a representative federal government. And out of the forms of government, the Founding Fathers went through and said, democracy is worse than anything. It’s worse than anarchy. Democracy is worse than a monarchy. And we know what they thought of monarchies.
I believe the concepts of “direct democracy” and “representative democracy” are being confused here.
I mean, democracy was on the bottom of the rung because it allowed human emotion to get through. People make decisions when they’re angry or when they’re happy or when they don’t have all the facts.
So, in a representative republican form of government, everything slows down. We complain about the pace of to government, but that’s really good because now you have to debate. You have to get two sides in there. You have to look at all the aspects. You have hearings on it get all the information. It’s a slow process but it keeps the feelings and emotions out.
But they wanted the people to have the power. The Constitution forbids America from becoming a democracy. And the federal government means that we share the powers in a vertical direction.
BARTON: Thomas Jefferson, in his first inaugural address, he went through the presidency and said, the purpose of federal government is five- fold things. And in his inaugural address, he listed the five things that the government was supposed to do.
When a conservative mentions Jefferson, you know a legacy hijack is coming…
He said, number one, is to acknowledge and adore God. It’s interesting — Jefferson said that but they all believe if you don’t start with the acknowledgement of God, you don’t understand inalienable rights.
This is a COMPLETE, ABSOLUTE LIE. Neither of Jefferson’s inaugural addresses even contain the word “god”, let alone state anything even remotely related to this. In fact, Jefferson believed nothing of the sort, as his coinage of the phrase “separation of church and state” shows.
Second thing is for the government to exercise frugality — frugality in spending and power and authority. Be a frugal government.
Neither of Jefferson’s inaugural addresses contain this either. Jefferson’s policy was in fact mixed on this matter – he advocated deficit reduction, but made the relatively lavish and constitutionally questionable Louisiana Purchase, one of the greatest American foreign policy achievements in history.
He said, third, is to restrain the infliction of injury. Government exists to keep bad guys under control. It’s not to regulate the good guys. It’s to keep bad guys from hurting somebody.
You guessed it – Jefferson didn’t say this either. Indeed, Jefferson, like the other Founding Fathers, understood the drawbacks of naïvely, childishly classifiying people as “good guys” and “bad guys”.
He said, the fourth thing the government is supposed to do is to encourage entrepreneurship and free enterprise, is to be business friendly and — because that’s where the prosperity comes from, that’s where jobs come from.
No, in fact Jefferson disliked the ideas of entrepreneurship and business, small or large. He had an agrarian view of the nation, and wanted the majority of the nation to consist of family farms. Free enterprise had little place in his vision.
He said, the fifth thing government should do is to protect property and the earnings of citizens. They consider the money you earn is your property and they couldn’t take your money away any more than they could take your house or your property or anything else away.
Jefferson never said this in the address either. I don’t know where you’re pulling any of this from, Mr. Barton. It wouldn’t be that hard to look at Jefferson’s inaugural address and report what was actually in it, would it?
And he said that’s the five-fold purpose of government. Government exists for those five reasons. We’ve shifted so much away from what they envision, which was a small, limited government with five primary responsibilities where we the people were in charge of all three branches. That’s what they wanted for America.
Don’t take my word for it, readers. Research Jefferson’s 1801 inaugural address. You’ll find the phrase “We are all Federalists; we are all Republicans,” one that should be remembered in today’s era of political violence. You won’t find anything like what Barton says here. In fact, if you search for this “five-fold purpose of government”, the only results you’ll find will be Glenn Beck transcripts.
And if we read and study the Constitution and get back to that plan, that’s what caused America to be the most prosperous, stable nation in history of the world.
It becomes tedious, Mr. Barton, to refute your incorrect, arrogant statements repeatedly. America is a relatively prosperous, relatively stable nation, but surely you wouldn’t refute that the British Empire was more prosperous, and modern-day Scandinavia more stable?
So far, Beck hasn’t even been lying himself – he’s gotten others to do it for him.
BECK: So, why have we shifted so far away from what the Founding Fathers envisioned? Progressivism. That was it.
The Civil War? America’s huge geographical and population growth? Technological modernizaton? The realization that rights should not be denied on the basis of sex or race? No, Mr. Beck, progressivism. That was it.
But what exactly is progressivism?
Progressivism (n.) the political orientation of those who favor progress toward better conditions in government and society
– Princeton WordNet
More to come. #