I was in Washington D.C. for the weekend (more on that later). Coincidental to my visit was the opportunity to experience the Glenn Beck crowd in their glowing, smug, aging, white splendor.
After some consideration, I've decided I prefer my Beck-Heads in cargo shorts and camo. That subset of the crowd appears far more hardy then the much more common denim-shorted, matching t-shirts, phone clipped to the belt, practically-sneakered attire that mostly characterizes the extremely white and aging Becksters. Many of those matching shirts vowed to TAKE. AMERICA. BACK. Others paid tribute to the founders with the Obama hope-styled graphically designed pictures of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
I'm a known fan of George and Tom and the promise of their ideas, but, as I recall, their America featured a rather limited citizenship for those of us who weren't white male landowners. You'll pardon me for liking the America of the 13th, 14th, and 19th amendments to the Constitution just a little better.
And I guess that was my most overwhelming impression of the Beck crowd: they are people at a loss in a changing world. Eager to stem the tide of hope and promise suddenly applying to all of us, they are going to dig in their practical shoes and cling to the past. A past where they cautioned Martin Luther King to be patient while they unleashed their dogs on the children in Birmingham. A past when gays were demonized and stonewalled in the closet. A past where women were expected to happily embrace unequal pay for equal work.
I understand that change is scary and that the Beck crowd is afraid. I can't say that I bear them no ill-will because I've grown fed up with their smug, self-righteous nonsense. Seeing them in action this weekend, it is clear that their time has passed. I take comfort from the fact that Glenn Beck's America, the oldest, whitest crowd I've seen in a very long time, is not the America I saw at the Nationals' ballpark. Or on the train home to New Jersey. Or at the school where my child is learning to lead the world. That's the real America; the nation I believe in. And we're going to take ourselves further than even Thomas Jefferson could have ever imagined.
Count on it.