On Nov. 30, Paul Rahe, professor of history, appeared on Glenn Beck’s Blaze Network. He outlined arguments from two of his books “Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty” and “Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift.” Video highlights posted on TheBlaze.com showcase Rahe’s reaction to recent political events, including the recent election results, the future of social conservatism, and much more.
How were you asked to appear on the program?
Beck asked a professor from Brigham Young University, Dr. Paul Kerry, to host his television show on The Blaze. I was approached by the Beck people. I received an email asking if I would be on the program. In the past, I had been invited to be on the show, but due to a vacation, I was unable to attend. I got the email on Saturday or Sunday asking if I could come to Dallas on Thursday to be on the Glenn Beck show and I said, “Yeah, sure. Why not?”
What is your reaction of how the show went?
Beck was not there, because he is currently on a book tour, and Paul was filling in for him. I was invited with an eye to speaking about two books I had written: “Montesquieu and the Logic of Liberty” and “Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift.” I suspect that had I been on with Beck himself, I would have had less opportunity to talk. Look, Beck is the show, so his guests are there to set him off. There are interviewers who see their job as showing off their guests. Peter Robinson on “Uncommon Knowledge” does precisely that. It is not about Peter Robinson; it is about the guests he brings in. Well, I had the good fortune to be treated that way on the Beck show. They had five segments, and I was on for all five. It was broadcasted last Friday at 5 p.m. It was an hour-long show broadcasted live on Beck’s online Blaze network.
What questions did the viewers ask you?
Well, I was asked at one point, “How can the Republicans pitch to young people?” because they did not do that well with young voters. I spent almost 10 minutes answering that question, which I don’t think Beck would have allowed me to do. The answer cannot be a sound bite, and you know this material and the highlights from the show are up on the internet.
What do you find rewarding about these experiences?
I have been on “Uncommon Knowledge” twice with Peter Robinson. It is absolutely crucial that all modes of communication be used, because we have a public that is economically and politically illiterate really. For example, the online courses being done by Hillsdale College. The Constitution course and Western Heritage course are outreach efforts. The problem with giving a talk is that they can only hear you once, and they don’t have much time to query it. The nice thing about video this is that you can watch it two or three times and ask yourself, “Is that right? Is what he is saying true? Does that argument follow and so forth?” Look, there is a limited amount of work you can do with TV, and there is a limited amount you can do with radio. It is not the same as carefully reading a book, but what you can do is persuade people to go buy the book, which is what I was trying to do. In other words, my main interest in appearing on the program was to get people to read the complex argument by making a part of the complex argument on TV which would cause them to pause it and want to know more about that.
Is this form of communication effective?
The online course that the college is offering is a form of marketing. People will take one of these courses, and they will want to send their children here. They will get an inkling of what we have to offer. The problem is you can only get an inkling, but as a means for giving people an inkling, it’s invaluable. The online Constitution course had 200,000 subscribers. That is amazing.
Are we able to watch your video?
Blaze has put some highlight clips online. Ricochet, where I am a regular contributor, put up a link to these video clips. You may find of particular interest the highlights extracted from segments one and two– wherein I first consider the difficulties associated with sustaining a republic on an extended territory, then outline the means for overcoming these difficulties suggested by Montesquieu, and, finally, explore Tocqueville’s analysis of the contribution that can be made to this effort by civil society before touching on the greatest obstacles to our continued success in sustaining self-government in the United States.”