Glenn Beck recently baffled reasonable people by playing with creepy "socialist" puppets on his Fox News program while blabbering about how beneficiaries of billionaire George Soros' philanthropy are supposedly Conspiring to Take Over America. The venom-spewing talk show host's attack on Soros, a Holocaust survivor, had an anti-Semitic tone, outraging the Jewish community.
His buffoon-ish, puppet-playing, fear-mongering exploits the tea partiers' anxiety, scaring them into hiding their last tea biscuits from black people, puppets, immigrants, and liberals working for a more just society.
Beck sounds alarmed by what he sees as a radical strategy of working both "inside" and "outside" of power circles to affect change. He gets his undergarments and puppets all in a bunch over my organization, the Institute for Policy Studies. Why? Because our annual report cleverly sports a photo of grassroots movements marching on the outside cover and pictures the Capitol on the inside cover as we describe our work.
Actually, many groups deploy an inside/outside strategies, regardless of their political orientation. Conveying street heat into lawmakers' suites can turn citizen-driven ideas into sound policies that move our nation forward. With Washington so dominated by corporate and military special interests, the Institute fights mightily to amplify the voices of dynamic social movements on the outside to help create the space for innovative policy ideas on the inside.
But, boy, if Beck is scared of organizations like the Institute for Policy Studies (we're nimble and smart but we operate on less than 5 percent of the Heritage Foundation's $70 million annual expense budget) and sophisticated liberal strategists like Van Jones, I bet he's SUPER scared of more heavily funded and aggressively ideological groups like FreedomWorks, Americans for Prosperity, and the Tea Party Patriots. Man, talk about working a subversive agenda from "outside" of Congress while lawmakers like Senator Jim DeMint, Senator-elect Rand Paul, Representatives Michelle Bachmann, Mike Pence, and dozens of Hill newcomers work the same agenda "inside" Congress.
And these "outside" groups were even able to leverage untold, undisclosed amounts of secret money into congressional campaigns to get their insiders elected. Roll Call, a Capitol Hill newspaper, reports that the new crop of Republican insiders must take a litmus test by filling out a questionnaire on the ultra-right Heritage Foundation's website, and Fox News reports they must declare their loyalty to the Tea Party agenda.
This radical takeover strategy takes an "outside" message of decreasing government spending and surreptitiously transforms it into the immediate “inside” addition of $700 billion onto the deficit to give the wealthiest 2 percent of our citizens an additional tax break. It preys on the fears of senior citizens to support them on the outside as they work furiously, on the inside, to cut their Social Security.
Hey, wait a minute...this really IS scary stuff!
Beck can scapegoat us all he wants, but IPS and other independent organizations will continue to fight the good fight, bringing grassroots voices to bear against Wall Street bailouts and multi-million dollar bonuses rewarding CEOs for their ruthless layoff policies. We'll keep trying to get those in power to focus on bringing war dollars home to our struggling communities and finding a way to keep our nation's hungry children fed, our workers employed with decent pay, and our climate sustainable for future generations. In our pursuit of an economy that works for all of us, we continue to hope that great progressive ideas from the "outside" can influence policy-makers on the "inside," even without the fortune-backed lobbyists that work against our efforts.
But, Glenn, that sure is scary stuff about those well-funded "freedom" groups getting their emissaries elected with secret money and requiring loyalty and litmus tests. And what about all those red-blooded men and women campaigning as outsiders, then ruling as insiders on behalf of the wealthiest 2 percent of our nation's population? Maybe there IS a plot to take over America. Thanks, man, for the warning.
Beware, my fellow Americans. Beware.