Yet it's not enough to blame Barack Obama or Democrats for the current economic state, Beck told an audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Republicans have an addiction to spending, he said, likening the party to Tiger Woods, or an alcoholic.
"I have not heard the people in the Republican party yet admit they have a problem," he said. "I don't know what they stand for anymore."
At the premiere conservative conference of the year, the winners of the unofficial 2012 straw poll came down to candidates from years past. Rep. Ron Paul won the poll, but a strong chorus of boos erupted when the results were announced, revealing the dissatisfaction conservatives have with their current field of Republican politicians.
"It's not enough to just not suck as much as the other side," Beck said in his speech.
Tapping into the anxieties of conservatives who fear the creeping growth of the federal government and the stalled economic progress of middle America, Beck used his trademark black chalkboard on stage to spell out what he called "the disease in America:" "Progressivism."
"Progressivism is the cancer in America," he said, infecting both parties. In Republicans, "it's just progressive lite," he said, dating back to Theodore Roosevelt. While the Democratic party is taxing and spending, Beck said, Republicans are guilty of not taxing but still spending.
Beck told the audience the "cancer" of progressivism "must be cut out of the system because they cannot co-exist. You must eradicate it."
Conservatives believe in personal responsibility and the right to pursue happiness, Beck said -- but not to happiness itself. He said progressivism has deteriorated the nation's ability and willingness to accept competition, or the losses that come with competition.
"The worst is still ahead of us, but no one has the spine in Washington to tell you that because they don't think you can handle it as an American," he said. "We need big thinkers and brave people with spines who can make the case, who can say to Americans it's going to be hard."
He added, "All we have to do is recognize the problems that we have, admit to our mistakes."
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