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Monday, April 26, 2010

Why Did Glenn Beck Gasp "Holy Cow" At Janesville?

After thinking about the Paul Ryan/Glenn Beck "progressivism is a cancer" radio interview from last week, I couldn't help but return to an old post I wrote in 2007 on why there continues to be a common misconception that Janesville city government is progressive or by extension, its demographic majority. Clearly, it's not.
Rock Netroots Excerpt:
However, none of this should be confused with whatever Janesville city government happens to be based on today because in retrospect, they never "progressed" past the first movement. The establishment right-wing refused to accept the second movement and abandoned the movement altogether but not before using it to disempower the growing political influence of the GM labor worker in the city. Progressivism became the perfect foil for the establishment to keep control of the city's leadership while simultaneously politically neuter and malign any action by the working majority as a power grab. In my view, Janesville became sort of a "safe haven" for those renegade republicans. This is why many progressives today feel it is important to describe themselves as "modern" or "contemporary" progressives, to distinguish themselves from the "ancient" progressives (actually, regressives) that still roam today.
During Beck's radio interview, the rodeo clown gasped "Holy Cow" after Ryan merely stated that he's calling from his hometown Janesville - as if Janesville is Progressive Central.

It's also doubly interesting how several right-wing blogs including Beck felt Ryan spoke too kindly about the early days of progressivism.
Capital Times Excerpt:
Early progressives wanted to empower and engage the people. They fought for populist reforms like initiative and referendum, recalls, judicial elections, the breakup of monopoly corporations, and the elimination of vote buying and urban patronage. -- Paul Ryan
So who could blame the regressive Beck for thinking that Ryan might be a bleeding heart and remorseful progressive? But Ryan continued on to say progressivism turned away from popular control toward central government planning and that it lost most Americans and consumed itself in paternalism, arrogance and snobbish condescension. Actually it was quite the opposite. Progressivism turned to decentralization often enough to be abandoned by the arrogant and snobbish right-wing establishment. Progressivism was evolving by not allowing itself to be used as a tool by wealthy authoritarians.

Clearly, this is one subject about Janesville that deserves far more attention and circumspection than I have given it. Particularly how Janesville's organized business base continue to hold the reins of power by riding on the coattails of early progressivism while never allowing it to evolve, and how Ryan's self-described "classic liberalism" and early environment may have imprinted him as a typical Janesville abuser of the early progressive movement and a misguided rejectionist of the modern progressive movement - a true regressive.

Highly Recommended John Nichols on Ryan's history of Progressivism.

Beck/Ryan Cancer Interview

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