By listening or watching Beck, people know that like minded patriots are experiencing the same fears and frustrations that they are, making those who tune in part of a community. We saw this exact same phenomena during the Bush years with the left and the widespread belief in a draft; in “another 9/11″ in order to cancel the election of both 2006 and 2008; in the almost weekly “We’re going to invade Iran” rumors; and, of course, the usual black helicopter and FEMA camp nonsense. Hofstadter was right. The “First Party System” – where the party out of power believes the other party will destroy the country – is alive and well in America.

Beck worries me. Conservatives worry me. I worry about myself. I feel trapped in a huge ball of cotton, trying gamely to make my way out but don’t know which direction to start pushing. I am losing contact with those conservatives who find Beck anything more than a clown – and an irrational one at that. Same goes for those who worship at the altar of Rush, Hannity, Coulter, and the whole cotton candy conservative crowd. I can’t take those people seriously. The fact that they are popular mystifies me. Our heroes 20 years ago were Reagan, Buckley, Fitzpatrick, Kirk, Goldwater, Anderson, and others who didn’t see conservatism as a meal ticket but as something to think about, to write about and contemplate man’s place in the world and his relationship to government and God.