How do we reconcile these two visions for America’s future?

In the wake of this incredibly divisive campaign season which we just lived though, I can’t help but wonder whether our nation has a reasonable chance of surviving this perfect storm which has arisen around us, having been fed for so long by the forces of paranoia, fear, environmental volatility, and economic uncertainty, which are all surging at unprecedented levels, and amplified by rapidly shifting racial demographics and dramatically constricting natural resources… Clearly, two paths are emerging. One would have us band together and fight alongside one another, challenging each other think creatively, and relying upon facts and science to guide our way. The other would have us battle it out, Hunger Games style, with those more adept at doling out the ultra-violence progressing farther. I think, over the past ten years, I’ve made it pretty clear which path I’d like to head down. I’m not, however, beyond reason. And, with that in mind, I continue to spend my evenings, scouring the internet for ideas coming from all quarters. Tonight, while doing this, I stumbled across two pieces of video. Taken together, I think they demonstrate just how wide the chasm is that stands between the left and the right in our country at the present moment.

The first is a video is of an exhausted Barack Obama thanking his campaign staff in Chicago yesterday for all of their hard work. The President, exhausted, and with tears in his eyes, tells the young people on his staff that he expects great things from them. It’s a completely unguarded moment, and I feel incredibly fortunate to have seen it. As much as I like our President, I don’t think, until this evening, that I’ve ever connected with him on a human level. As incredible as many of his speeches have been over the years, I think this simple, unscripted, five minute address, on the journey that brought him to Chicago at the age of 25, in search of a way to make a positive impact, is my favorite. All the bullshit and artifice of the campaign is stripped away. All the talking points are gone. And what we’re left with is an earnest human being, encouraging young people to do good in the world, and live up to their full potential. I am incredibly happy that I watched this, and I hope that some of you have a similar experience.

The second video, which stands in stark contrast, is of Glenn Beck, who, on his radio program yesterday warned that we are about to experience God’s wrath. The results of the election, according to Beck, demonstrated that the American people are “so dead inside that they can no longer see the difference between good and evil.” (Yes, that man you just saw wiping tears from his eyes in the above video, and encouraging his young staffers to embody the “ripples of hope” that Robert Kennedy spoke of, is apparently the embodiment of evil.) What’s Beck’s solution, you might ask… “We have to be destroyed.”

I could write for hours about this apocalyptic vision of Beck’s, which he’s attempting to sell between revenue-generating ads for things like magic beans, which will make it possible for you to feed your family once society falls apart, assuming, of course, you have the firepower to guard your garden 24/7, and overpriced gold coins, which can be used to buy weapons once paper money becomes a thing of the past. As I’m falling asleep, though, I’m going to leave it at that.

I should add that I know that Beck doesn’t speak for everyone on the right, but, even after losing his position at Fox, he still has an enormous audience, and there are a great many people who share his worldview, and believe that they’re the chosen ones, being persecuted by a godless, brown-skinned hoard of lazy “takers.” Here, with more on that, is another quote from Beck.

“If you look at history through a biblical world view, the last step before a nation is completely destroyed is they drive the righteous from among them. If this isn’t a sign of a group of people that will drive the righteous from among them, and that’s the last step before God’s wrath comes, I fear for our country and it is – it cannot be overstated, it cannot be called paranoid … If you are a God‑fearing person, hear me. Last call, America. Last call. Because the righteous will be driven from among them.”

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  1. Posted November 9, 2012 at 12:07 am | Permalink

    Mark, that’s the Christian endgame. Everything will be destroyed and all of the good children will ascend to heaven. It’s an awful narrative.

  2. donna
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:58 am | Permalink

    yes. yes. yes. a million times yes.
    Beck is the scum on the scum of the earth.
    No, he’s the excrement of the scum on the scum of the earth.
    I’m not even going to try to characterize O’Reilly.
    Anyways, your comment about Beck shilling for gold and magic beans reminded of this fascinating/terrifying article…
    good night, sir.

  3. Edward
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    This video of Obama makes me exponentially happier that I voted for him. While I like Obama the politician, I actually think that I might love Obama the man. I’m happy to finally make his acquaintance.

  4. K2
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Beck should be held accountable for his irresponsible bullshit.

  5. Oliva
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I love and admire Mark’s eloquent words about the video and the president. I got chills of deep happiness and love reading the wonderful words of Edward. (Edward, did you see that photo of pure love from Election Day, of Mr. and Mrs. Obama embracing? Love undeniable, so damn beautiful. Sad that the haters have such deep envy of what is possible in this world. Can see that pic here:

    “Everything can and will be transformed in life and art, if we speak the word ‘love’ without shame.” –Marc Chagall

    (Some people, like Beck, can’t find the word yet.)

  6. Eel
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I know I shouldn’t laugh, as this is serious stuff, but hearing Beck call the President a demagogue that makes me LOL.

  7. Eel
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Also, I read that Trump removed his post calling for “revolution” against our democratically elected President.

  8. Marcia
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I grew up in a religious household, and had the opportunity to have real and honest conversations with clergy. I worked in the city of detroit for many years..where Christianity and spirituality are a big part of daily life..and I have never known anyone who could look me in the eye and say they REALLY had Gods ear on any specific issue.

    Though I have moved away from more traditional Christianity I still feel a connection to it of some sort. I cant believe that people dont see the colossal destructiveness of Becks behavior on society. That he somehow seems to have this spiritual arrogance …totally lacking humility..and can talk like this. I know its nothing new..but I still am amazed that people buy into this. I am reading a book called “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided over Politics and Religion.” Its a book that does not say being conservative or liberal are either good or bad. But when I find the patience to try and understand the conservative POV, I do find it unsurprising that neuroscience has shown that the amygdala of conservatives is larger..the area that triggers fear and disgust. Here in lies the secret ingredient for people like Beck..he triggers and stokes fear..he whips it up..and in many ways I feel for the people who have gotten wrapped up in it because they really do fear Obama. I don’t know how much hope I hold for this trend reversing anytime soon. But if there was some way we could get some moderate Republicans to sort of broach the topic with the far right..that maybe some type of introspection could occur?

  9. Megan
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I saw the video of Obama thanking his volunteers last night. It was fantastic and i kind of got teary eyed myself. I love that man and his family. I really do feel we did right electing him 4 years ago and i’m proud that i voted for him then and this week.

    Glenn Beck can go suck an egg.

  10. Bob Krzewisnki
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Bill Murray also predicted a disaster of biblical proportions. Worse than Beck predicted, there would be dogs and cats living together –

  11. Posted November 9, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    Beck and his sheep aren’t righteous. They’re only self righteous.

  12. deleuzean
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Those of us who are not on the right will have to take it upon ourselves to befriend people like Beck and his followers. We will have to invite them into our homes and share meals with them (break bread, even, as the Judeo-Christians are so fond of doing). We will have to bear up in the face of having them pour their fear and anger out while persistently giving them only love and kindness in return. Yes, we will have to challenge their paranoid fantasies (rather than be the kind of permissive friends who just roll their eyes and say “Oh that’s just the way Glenn is”), but with firmness and compassion rather than anger for anger and fear for fear. This will not always be easy, but the rewards will be great.

  13. anonymous
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    We live in interesting times. Fortunately, I think there’s still time to salvage the nation. It requires, however, that the Republican party has a come-to-Jesus moment, stops pandering to their base, and go through a legitimate reformation. Thankfully two big losses should point them in that direction.

  14. Meta
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Beck isn’t alone in predicting that God will return to strike us down.

    Leaving a birthday party for his father, evangelist Billy Graham, Franklin Graham said that Tuesday’s election results sent America further down a “path of destruction,” WCNC reports.

    In particular, Graham was referring to the re-election of President Obama, a man he has accused of “waving his fist before God” by supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage.

    He added: “I want to warn America: God is coming around. He will judge sin, and it won’t be pretty.”

  15. Posted November 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    I finally watched the Obama video. This is pretty powerful.

    In all the politicking, we forget the reasons that Obama was seen to be a strong candidate from the beginning.

    Most encouraging was the mention of poverty, a topic that has rarely come up in the past four years. The mention of expanding quality health care for the poor was also encouraging.

    Let’s hope this side of Barack Obama comes out front and center over the next four years.

    It’s easy to be cynical but I’m proud of my vote.

    The right has got it all wrong.

  16. Bob Krzewisnki
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    I never trust any so-called “man (0r woman) of god”, including Billy Graham, who has made an immense fortune using religion as their mode of operation.

  17. Watching Ypsi
    Posted November 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    Correct Bob K,
    now expand,
    take a deep breathe and understand what’s really going on.
    You’re a good guy, and highly intellegent.
    Yes, Obama is the right guy and DEMS are the right people; because that’s what we got to work with, unfortunatly.

  18. thaguy
    Posted November 10, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    You are all fucking dumb if you think the Obama crying thing was not some scripted shit. Really no different then some nonsense Beck would pull, but it seems most of you have your head so far up Obama’s ass that you do not see this. Hope all of you enjoy your president when we are at war with Iran and there are no civil rights anymore. Hey, he is not blowing up your kids, so it is all good right? Fucking hypocrites. You are no better then people who supported Bush.

  19. John Galt
    Posted November 21, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    It’s not over yet. Romeny still has a chance. Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, isn’t giving up, and neither am I.

    Here’s his plan:

    “According to the 12th Amendment, for the Electoral College to be able to select the president, it must have a quorum of two-thirds of the states voting. If enough states refuse to participate, the Electoral College will not have a quorum. If the Electoral College does not have a quorum or otherwise cannot vote or decide, then the responsibility for selecting the president and vice president devolves to the Congress.

    The House of Representatives selects the president and the Senate selects the vice president.

    Since the Republicans hold a majority in the House, presumably they would vote for Mitt Romney, and the Democrats in the Senate would vote for Joe Biden for vice president.[…]

    Mitt Romney carried 24 states. We need to have conservative activists from all over the nation contact the electors, the Republican Party and the secretary of state in all of these states and tell them not to participate in the Electoral College when it meets on Dec. 17.

    If we can get 17 of those states (just over one-third) to refuse to participate, the Electoral College will have no quorum. Then, as the Constitution directs, the election goes to the House of Representatives.”

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