American right rallies loud and proud in DC

The 300,000 people who attended the "Restoring Honor" rally in Washington were told not to bring political placards, and the speakers – even the former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin – did not cite President Barack Obama once. But the Tea Party cheerleader Glenn Beck, who organised the event, was yesterday adamant that its success signified something of political importance for the US: voters are deeply unhappy with the direction in which the country is headed.

The Fox News commentator had taken to the steps of the capital's Lincoln Memorial, 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King delivered his "I have a dream" speech from the spot, to deliver a call for a return to traditional values. His critics accused him of stirring racial tensions, and the media took a stand-offish approach to the large conservative crowds that thronged around the famous reflecting pool beneath the Washington Monument. Meanwhile, leaders of both parties were watching to see if the event might energise conservative voters ahead of November's elections that could result in the Democratic party losing control of one or both houses of Congress.

Mr Beck declared yesterday that the event showed there was a yearning for something better from politics. "You don't get that many people to come to Washington to stand there and have that kind of moment for no reason," he told Fox News Sunday. "A good number of people are not happy with the direction we are going."

The rally, ostensibly a fundraiser designed to honour American troops and to call for restoring God to the centre of American life, seems certain to keep Mr Beck's peculiar brand of demagoguery at the centre of the pre-election debate.

The Republican establishment hardly knows how to handle the broadcaster, whose emotional warnings about impending socialism and moral degradation in the US have often landed him in trouble, but have turned him into one of the most-watched hosts on Fox News.

The anti-tax Tea Party movement has swept aside numerous mainstream Republicans in favour of more right-wing candidates, with uncertain consequences for the party's fortunes in November. Political officeholders were not invited to the rally, but Ms Palin continued her campaign for the presidency in 2012 by making an appearance.

Mr Beck was criticised for playing with racial symbolism by holding his event on the anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963. He has been accused of playing on racial prejudices by painting Mr Obama as alien to the values of mainstream America. "They represent hate-mongering and angry white people," said Jaime Contreras of the Service Employees International Union, speaking at the smaller "Reclaim the Dream" rally.

The rallies were covered with an even hand on most news channels. Fox News was not among the organisations, however, that summarised the racial make-up of the crowds. Most others pointed out that the attendees at the Beck rally were "predominantly white".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Field Engineer

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has 30 years of ex...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat