It’s kinda hard to knock Glenn Beck’s hustle. Since leaving Fox News in June of 2011, Beck has kept himself busy with projects like starting a jeans label and relaunching The Blaze as a libertarian online network. His continued presence as a right-wing personality has shaped him into an odd species of self-help guru, urging his audience to live their best lives by embracing his personal blend of faith and politics. But now Beck has his sights set on a loftier prize: Building an American oasis for free-market values.
Last week Beck’s website announced his concept for Independence, USA, a shelter from the rest of the United States, which he believes is “going away from the values of freedom, responsibility and truth.” Beck’s vision for Independence would include a residential area where families could “bring their children to be inspired,” a marketplace dedicated to fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship, and a multi-denominational mission center modeled after the Alamo. The site also mentions that Independence was inspired by Walt Disney’s initial vision for Disneyland, a place where people could find “happiness, courage and hope.”
But because capitalism is the cornerstone of Independence, Beck’s brand of freedom surely won’t come for free. After all, if Beck’s dream becomes reality, his revenue-making production company would be the heart and soul of the new settlement:
There would also be an [sic] Media Center, where Glenn’s production company would film television, movies, documentaries, and more. Glenn hoped to include scripted television that would challenge viewers without resorting to a loss of human decency. He also said it would be a place where aspiring journalists would learn how to be great reporters.
An environment built primarily on capitalism — and Beck’s brand of news and entertainment — will have to turn a profit. And from the proposed theme park to the ranch where visitors can learn to “work the land,” Independence, USA is a vehicle for Glenn Beck to cultivate, build and benefit from his audience’s attention as well as their wallets. At its core, the concept of Independence — like the fantasy playland Walt Disney created nearly 60 years ago — sells nothing more than the make-believe world Beck has spent years building on Fox News, and later with his own media company.
In the event that Independence, USA becomes reality, it might be both interesting and instructive to watch how this young society — based on, among other things, a funhouse reflection of American ideals — handles its growing pains.