No one’s entirely sure how many people showed up this weekend for Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally. Beck has suggested the number is around 400,000. The official unofficial number provided by Washington, D.C.’s Park Services is 325,000. CBS low-balled the event, claiming that no more than 85,000 attended, only to have their assertion countered by NBC’s estimate of 500,000. Regardless of the numbers, Democrats are desperate to dismiss the event. They do so at their own peril. There’s a lot they could learn from it.
Beck’s rally convinced nearly a half million political neophytes to drop what they were doing and head to Washington. Most would wager that there’s not a single person on the left who could manage the same feat. In the days following the rally, Dems have been everywhere, portraying its attendees as delusional racists who are desperately searching for a safe port in a storm of progressive change. If they were smart, they’d take a break from the derision and ask themselves: Why is it the left is unable to generate the kind of enthusiasm that seems to come so easily to Beck’s cause?
The answer is simple, and it’s one they failed to learn from the 2008 presidential election. Beck is fighting for something. It may be something they disagree with, but there’s no denying he’s campaigning, positively, for something.
When was the last time we saw a Democrat attract the same kind of following?
Many would argue it was during the 2008 presidential campaign. It’s easy to forget, after two years of failure, that Obama rose to power on a massive wave of positivity. Thinking people may have dismissed it as the empty rhetoric it’s proven to be, but the masses were enthralled by a message of hope and positive change. Obama promised that wars would end, financial stability would return, and global warming would be reversed. We’d all have free health care and lower taxes. His victory rally was massive, culminating in his historically positive “Yes We Can” speech.
In short, he convinced people to believe in his vision, and together, they fought for it.
Unfortunately, reality has gotten in the way. Democrats have either failed to deliver, or worse, forced unpopular policies down the throats of those who believed in them. In the process, they’ve destroyed the good will they generated, and all but eliminated the positivity that put Obama in the White House. Now, from the top down, their party looks like a gathering of angry malcontents, desperate to recapture their 2008 glory.
Beck’s success last weekend brought out the Democrats’ bitterness. Howard Dean called him a “racist” and a “hate-monger,” claiming that there are “a few things the matter with him, up in the head there.” Meanwhile, Keith Olbermann unleashed the oh-so-enlightened assertion that at some point in the rally “God will do magic tricks.” The irony, of course, is that these two can barely draw five hundred people, let alone five hundred thousand. Dean failed miserably as a candidate, no matter how loudly he screamed, and for proof of Olbermann’s irrelevance, one need look no further than MSNBC’s ratings. The jealousy is ugly and palpable.
Were they interested in educating themselves, the statists who’ve handcuffed themselves to Obama’s sinking ship would spend less time trying to write off Beck’s supporters and more time wondering why they’re so eager to join him. They might find that people like to stand in support of their ideals, rather than always tearing someone else’ down. They want to work toward a future of achievement, instead of perpetually demonizing the supposed evils of success. They want to live life unfettered by constant federal interference.
Oh, and on more thing. They think their country was once, and could be again, a pretty wonderful place.
If you’re worried that the left will figure this out, and start winning elections, don’t be.
It’s a lesson they’re incapable of learning.
Robert Laurie is a Michigan-based conservative columnist and freelance writer. He also runs a daily political commentary blog at RobertLaurie.net.