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 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.”