John Peeler: I suggest that as bad as things are, economically, politically, socially, they are not bad enough to permanently shift the way we think, to force changes in what we consider to be common sense. Such a fundamental reshaping of the political landscape has occurred only a few times in our history.
Joseph Palermo: The wide dissemination of Beck’s views wouldn’t matter much if the United States were in better shape today. But the status quo that is emerging cannot help but create a highly volatile electorate for years to come. Class lines are hardening, mobility is stifled, unemployment will remain near double digits for many years, there is a sea of angry voters who are susceptible to jingoistic appeals and conspiracy theories (like the ones Beck promotes). The ongoing fiscal crisis at the local, state, and federal levels has led to the heartless rollback of public institutions at exactly the time when they are needed the most.