Let's take a look at what Ross Douthat liked best about Glenn Beck's Restore America To The 19th Century rally.
In a sense, Beck’s “Restoring Honor” was like an Obama rally through the looking glass. It was a long festival of affirmation for middle-class white Christians — square, earnest, patriotic and religious. If a speaker had suddenly burst out with an Obama-esque “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” the message would have fit right in.
Well, it's very nice of Douthat to make that perfectly clear. The rally was a restoration of a world without people with darker skin, people with different religions, people who are poor, in the public sphere. And those who are allowed into the White World must show proper deference. The right has been livid for decades that they can no longer intimidate and threaten the powerless in public and is dying to return to those days. The crowd at a tea-party--oops, I mean mosque protest--in New York practically had a mass orgasm while running off a Black man they thought was Muslim. They don't want to see Black people or gays or sexually active women or Hispanics or Muslims. They want to pretend they don't exist. They want to be exactly like everyone around them, with exactly the same car and house and schools and fast food restaurants and stores and churches. Anything different is a threat. Anything at all. It's that pathetic.
But whereas Obama wouldn’t have been Obama if he weren’t running for president, Beck’s packed, three-hour jamboree was floated entirely on patriotism and piety, with no “get thee to a voting booth” message. It blessed a particular way of life without burdening that blessing with the compromises of a campaign, or the disillusioning work of governance.
How wonderful it is to be relieved of the burden of consequences, of reality, of responsibility! Their way of life is exalted as the one and only right way to be, without any nagging questions about how their wants will affect others. They don't want to know that their power is based on the exploitation of others. They don't want to be criticized, they want to hear God Bless America, the Greatest Country In The World And Of All Time!
These middle-class White Christians are Blessed. God approves of what they do and who they are. And just to prove it, they gather by the tens of thousands so everyone around them is alike, as far as the eye can see.
So they can pretend that they are the source of all that is good in America and that everyone else is the source of all that is bad. So they can say what they want to say without reservation, without worrying that someone would be offended when they use racial slurs or demonstrate callousness and spitefulness. It's all us white folks together, all of whom know that God likes us best. We are the greatest country on earth, we are the most moral, freedom-loving people on earth, and God loves us and rewards us and will let us live forever so we never have to be afraid or alone or die. Jesus Hallelujah!
For a weekend, at least, Beck proved that he can conjure the thrill of a culture war without the costs of combat, and the solidarity of identity politics without any actual politics. If his influence outlasts the current election cycle, this will be the secret of his success.
The "thrill of a culture war"? Nice of Douthat to admit this as well. They enjoy this war, just like they enjoy all wars. They want to fight, to strike back because they feel mistreated, neglected---abused. It provides an emotional release for built-up anger and resentment against the forces trying to kill them off. Too bad they're attacking the wrong people, but nobody ever said they were smart. (Except for themselves, of course.)
It's also very decent of Douthat to admit that they don't want to pay the price for their White Christian triumphalism. They want to attack and smash and grab without being criticized for it. "The solidarity of identity politics" is just another name for tribalism, and Glenn Beck's rally was little more than an orgy of mass mutual masturbation, the self-soothing ego-stroking of a people who refuse to admit that they have engineered their own destruction and cannot stop its course.