Let me repeat the most important part of the headline in this post: “Wedding the Tea parties and the Religious Right…”
While most progressive pundits are complaining that Beck “sounded like a televangelist, and that Beck’s crowd didn’t reach over 90,000 people, it appears they are missing the root cause or purpose of the rally.
Bush “won” the evangelical vote in the 2004 election and thus, claimed victory for a second term. Of course that result can be argued ad infinitum, that the election was stolen, etc. The fact is, the Christian Right came out in substantive numbers which overshadowed the muted complaints of voter suppression, voter intimidation and voter disenfranchisement. After all, the people complaining were “minorities”…so the Bush machine quelled the “voter suppression noise” with we are at war, and we all should rally around the President, type rhetoric.
Fast forward to 2010…
Philip Elliott of the AP is convinced that this past weekend’s GlennBeckapalooza in D.C. is a sure sign of trouble for Democrats — though his evidence for that is almost based purely on the crowd size — and a lot of bad presumptions about just how this is going to play with the broader electorate.
Hell, even the crowd size is far from a certain thing: There have been wildly conflicting reports, ranging from Michele Bachmann’s nutso assertion that there were at least a million people there, to the far more credible and scientific estimate from CBS News that put it at about 87,000, give or take a few thousand. (Be sure to read Jed Lewison’s take on it, too.
I can tell you this: Having been at the pro-immigration reform March for America last spring, where the crowd was at least twice the size of the one that was on the mall Saturday — it was considerably more dense a crowd, and it ate up more than twice the amount of acreage (the final estimate was 200,000) — the Beck people really haven’t got a lot to brag about.
Which raises a question: How can a rally that was endlessly promoted on the most popular cable network and discussed throughout the news, yet only drew less than a hundred thousand in the end, actually indicate a more significant trend than a march that received NO advance promotion or news discussion and yet drew a crowd twice the size of Beck’s?
However, given the content of Beck’s rally, something significant did happen Saturday, and it will affect our discourse going forward: Beck officially and publicly married the Tea Party movement to the Religious Right.
Previously, most of the Tea Party debate focused on secular matters — taxes, health care, immigration. As Digby points out, the religious elements were always present as an undercurrent, but they had been mostly suppressed as the movement initially attempted to sell itself as a “spontaneous” and secular response to Obama’s policies. Now, they’re out in the open.
That is a deeply disturbing development, and one that will bear heavily on the direction this metastasizing madness takes.
Peter Montgomery at AlterNet has much more