Is Glenn Beck's "plan" to create a new political party or just sell lots of books?
While GOP lawmakers were in Washington D.C. dealing with the start of debate over the revamp of the nation's health care system -- in other words, governing -- Beck outlined the early beginnings of a political action which could snatch many true believers from the heart of the Republican Party just before a crucial midterm election.
The speech, delivered Saturday afternoon at The Villages retirement community in Florida, outlined something Beck has been calling The Plan. It's his 100-year plan to "bring us back to the America that our founders would have understood."
And during his speech, Beck gave hints of what that would mean, talking approvingly of libertarian policies to shut down the Internal Revenue Service and bring troops home from foreign conflicts, while implying that the science isn't settled on pollution-inspired climate change and presenting his plan as the solution to "a ticking time bomb" created by progressives many years ago to turn America into a "socialist utopia."
He also announced plans for a series of educational conventions, starting with a March 27 date at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, culminating with a giant rally Aug. 28 in Washington D.C. where his final plan is to be revealed.
He talked about having a team of advisors drafted to help him with different aspects of the plan, and turning his group used to organize politically active fans, The 9-12 Project, to the task of registering people to vote in the manner of the Democratic-supporting group he has long opposed on his shows, ACORN.
"We are going to go out...without taking a dime from the federal government or without smuggling any underage hookers across the border," he said, defiantly.
It is an odd media world indeed, where former GOP office holder and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin(who supposedly left office to effect political change from outside the system) is jetting around the country talking up her memoirs with Oprah Winfrey and Barbara Walters, while a radio and TV talk show host who has never won an election can outline plans to create a voter registration apparatus and series of forums for teaching potential voters about his policy initiatives a year before a major election.
Shouldn't somebody in the GOP be trying something like this?
This, it seems, is what happens when a political party's politicians lose their most effective voices. Now, with GOP lawmakers out of power in Washington, radio hosts such as Beck have stepped up in a major way to snare the hearts and minds of the most politically active, conservative-minded and frustrated voters in the country.
These are the folks who would normally fuel the grass roots voter registration drives and rallies which could change over power in an off year election. But what will the GOP do if these folks are hanging at 9-12 rallies and buying Beck's new book instead?
This isn't unprecedented. Curiously, Beck's plan reminds me of a similar effort put together by radio and TV personality Tavis Smiley, who organized a similar campaign to press the ideas behind his book to address the ills hurting African Americans across the country called The Covenant. But Smiley's efforts wasn't so overtly political, focusing instead on helping black culture re-establish ideas and habits which could help solve social ills.
Beck offered few facts to back his presentation, relying mostly on emotion and drama to carry the day.
If it works, this plan could turn Beck into a powerful political player whose only electoral mandate comes from the millions of fans who listen to his radio show, watch his television program, buy his books and attend his rallies.
Here's some of his words below: