Glenn Beck’s Common Sense avoids the descent into mere diatribe. What’s more it actually does compare favorably with Thomas Paine’s pamphlet of the same name. However, Beck is explicit in calling out that he is not advocating for people to take up arms and revolt in the same way that the patriots of 1776 did. He is calling for people to get up and be heard before it’s too late.
Beck puts America’s situation into sharp relief as he enumerates many of the problems facing the United States.
“The laws of common sense don’t change according to scale. If it doesn’t work in your own checkbook, it won’t work in theirs.”
“You can’t take away freedom to protect it, you cannot destroy the free market to save it, and you cannot uphold freedom of speech by silencing those with whom you disagree. To take rights was to defend them or to spend your way out of debt defies common sense.”
Beck makes a lot of points like these throughout the book. However, it is not mere rhetoric. He also gives many extremely poignant examples of government’s hubris and the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude so prevalent in Washington.
For instance, Beck reminds us of the House banking fiasco, where members of the House of Representatives bounced 8,331 checks on the House Bank! When called to account for their fiscal irresponsibility, they promised that they’d clean up their act and followed up by bouncing another 4,325 checks.
Beck posits that today’s politicians are nothing other than parasites feeding off the sweat and blood of the citizenry.
He’s got a point.
Common Sense is a worthwhile read in the literary tradition of Thomas Paine. While his prose is not of the same caliber, the book is enjoyable and interesting. It’s pretty hard to argue with what he has to say.
There are equal parts righteous indignation, clear analysis, and passionate calls for action. Throughout, there is a tone of optimism and expectation. At the end of the book he lays out what he calls the “9-12” project. (The day after September 11th.) It is not an action plan, but simply boils down into 9 principles and 12 core values.
Fittingly, Beck’s book includes the text of the Paine’s original Common Sense as an appendix. It is very interesting to read both and compare.