Glenn Beck is “done” with the Republican Party. Although it’d be a much more controversial headline if the conservative talk radio host announced that his views have shifted towards the left, the opposite is true. Beck sees no hope for the GOP establishment to stand behind his right-wing values.
“I’ve made my decision — I’m out. I’m out of the Republican Party,” Beck said on his show. “I am not a Republican; I will not give a dime to the Republican Party. I’m out. I highly recommend — run from the Republican Party. They are not good.”
Beck cited the failure of the GOP to challenge Obama on health care reform and immigration as reasons for his departure from the party. He also criticized Republicans for refusing to embrace Senators who are challenging the establishment like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz.
“They ran and they said they were doing all of these great things and they were going to stand against Obamacare and illegal immigration — they set us up. They set us up. Enough is enough. They’re torpedoing the constitution and they’re doing it knowingly. They’re taking on people like Mike Lee and Ted Cruz and they are torpedoing them. Knowingly. So I’m done with them. Four years ago I was with them. Four years ago I said work from the inside: let’s change it. Let’s get new guys in there. It’s too late,” Beck said.
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The fact that Beck verbally attacked the political party with which he is most commonly affiliated is not necessarily surprising. Beck will always find something incendiary to say in order to drive clicks or ratings. He has built a massively successful entertainment career by being controversial. This statement, however, is especially interesting considering the majority of that career has also been spent as a champion of conservative viewpoints. His name and the Republican Party are almost inextricably related.
Beck is one of the most influential individuals in American politics. His net worth is estimated at $250 million. He has millions of listeners. If he recommends that people “run from the Republican Party,” they will certainly listen. Whether or not they’ll actually follow is a different story, but his influence shouldn’t be underestimated.
University of Maryland journalism professor Mark Feldstein told Politico that Beck’s departure from Fox News and the establishment of his own successful media business has actually lessened his political influence. “You bring in money, but you don’t have the role of lighting rod, catalyst, political icon, that he sort of once had,” Feldstein said. “I certainly don’t think he’s in the zeitgeist now the way he was. I think in terms of the effect on political discourse, it’s diminished.”
A diminished Glenn Beck is still powerful. His comments about the Republican Party have already been covered by most major media outlets, so it’s obvious that his words have impact. In the years leading up to another significant presidential election, they could carry even more weight. Beck’s argument against the GOP is a popular one among young and libertarian-leaning conservatives. The approach in 2012 was, as Beck said, to change the party from within. That has obviously failed, but so have attempts to establish conservative alternatives. The Tea Party, thankfully, is no longer as popular as it once was. Yet if conservatives really want to take control of the country's direction in 2016, they'll have to start thinking differently. The current Republican Party is not the answer.
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Beck does have a point. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party are essentially the same party, made up of political traditionalists who have maintained control of the government while running it into the ground. Even if you disagree with his political viewpoints, it’s bold for an individual of Beck’s influence to claim that a new direction is needed. With the way the 2016 election is shaping up as another Bush vs. Clinton standoff, that type of outspokenness is needed. If only there was someone on the left who was willing to stand up and say the same thing.