Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Fein: Beck, Paul could be future for Republicans

Two main stories emerged from the Conservative Political Action Conference held last weekend. First, conservatives love Glenn Beck, who received raucous applause during his keynote address. Second, they also love U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who won the 2012 Presidential Straw Poll with 31 percent of the vote.

Beck and Paul are two icons of the modern conservative movement, but the similarities stop there. Where Paul is a principled articulator of libertarian values, Beck is a ratings-hungry lunatic prone to saccharine bouts of crying because he “just loves his country,” he said on his show last year.

Paul and his supporters don’t need Vicks VapoRub to manufacture concern for America. Some may question their belief that less government is the solution to America’s woes, but none may attack their sincerity. The same is not true for Beck, a neoconservative who proclaims he is a libertarian while supporting the Patriot Act, bank bailout and war in Iraq-three positions that earn the ire of Paul supporters.

The two conservative icons have a checkered past. Paul’s “money bomb” fundraiser on the 2007 anniversary of the Boston Tea Party sparked the Tea Party Movement that has catapulted Beck to national fame. However, at the time, Beck suggested Paul supporters who donated on that day were domestic terrorists, prompting a deluge of libertarian protests excoriating Beck.

Today Beck finds himself holding the reins of the Tea Party Movement, the catalyst of which he opportunistically derided three years ago. And this year Paul faces primary challenges from three Tea Party candidates. “Neocon influence” is distorting the movement he helped create, the Texan Congressman said on “The Rachel Maddow Show” on Feb. 9.

Unfortunately for Paul, reasoned arguments don’t play well with today’s Tea Party Movement. Glenn Beck does.

As Beck becomes increasingly enamored of espousing pseudo-libertarianism to his Fox News audience, he may pervert the true libertarian message. Although Beck provides Paul with a platform on his “Glenn Beck Program” (most recently on Jan. 25 to discuss the economy), Paul and his supporters should ask: at what cost?

Is media coverage on Beck’s program worth the possibility that Paul’s ideas will come to be associated with a man who has alleged President Barack Obama is a racist and a Nazi? Or will the Fox News audience be able to distinguish between Paul’s principled stands and Beck’s fake libertarian epiphany?

With the Republican Party divided over everything except its abhorrence of Obama, how Paul answers these questions may help determine his and the party’s future. If Paul shuns Beck and becomes the voice of reason and genuine solutions in a party of demagoguery and hate, he may find himself attracting the attention of voters unhappy with both parties.

The 2010 CPAC provided more questions than answers for the Republican Party. As presidential hopefuls like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney and possibly Paul or even Beck gear up for the 2012 campaign, Republicans will be taking a long look in the mirror.

Who they see will help determine the party’s future role in American politics.

Weinberg junior Jordan Fein can be reached at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Fein: Beck, Paul could be future for Republicans