Friday, September 24, 2010

Why Jon Stewart's Rally Matters

I still haven't been blogging on political matters the way I used to. The discourse in this country has gotten so low, the standards of both parties so poor, that I no longer feel as if they are speaking to me or anyone I know. The Democrats can't manage to stand up for one principle, all the while blaming all their problems on the Republicans. The Republicans, of course, are reprehensible beyond all belief, refusing to go along with a single thing the President wants done.

The Democrats buried the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal in some obscure part of a military spending bill, then tacked on some other controversial stuff (the DREAM Act)and then didn't let the Republicans make every single amendment they wanted to make.

So as usual the Republicans had a hissy fit, got their 60 votes to vote the whole thing down, effectively killing DADT repeal until after the election, at the very least. Naturally the Republicans probably would've voted it down anyway, just for spite, but they were able to come up with some plausible, if silly, reasons to do it at this particular time.

As ever, the GOP bears the greatest responsibility for having once again denied LGBT Americans from openly serving in the armed forces. But I can't help but wonder if the Democrats could've handled it better. Either way, it is just one more sign of the massive divisions in this country, and how no one in government can manage to get anything done.

...Which brings us to Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity. Last Thursday night, September 16, on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart announced that he is holding a rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. on October 30, 2010, to "Restore Sanity." Using a montage of video clips, he demonstrated the extremist rhetoric on both the left and the right.

He pointed out that 70-80% of the population is not part of the far left or far right, but we never hear from them "because you have sh*t to do."

See below for the full announcement:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

His announcement, done in tandem with Stephen Colbert, was followed by Stephen Colbert's own announcement for a rally on the same day: His satirical "March to Keep Fear Alive.".

Both rallies will happen simultaneously on the Mall and no doubt will attract the same type of audience members, as I'm sure they planned.

Something about these rallies, particularly the idea of restoring sanity, has resonated with many Americans. Not only have over 100,000 people said they are attending on Facebook, but satellite rallies are being formed all over the country.

Now, I am not a person who goes to rallies; in fact, I really don't like crowds at all. The only march I ever went on was in 1972 when I was a freshman in college, and on the first Earth Day, everyone marched on Boston Common protesting the war (Vietnam of course) and marching for the environment. Then they stopped having marches. The apathy of the 70s began and that was the end of it all, at least for me. Maybe the beer was part of the reason, I'm not sure.

Anyway, when I heard about the Rally to Restore Sanity, my first reaction was, "Let's go! We should DO this!" My husband grunted and ignored me. It was 11:15 p.m., he was tired, he figured I'd forget about it by the next day. But I didn't. I started talking about it again. He said I was nuts, he said "This is no 1963 march on Washington - they're COMEDIANS! They're trying to make money!" But I persisted. It also helped that a very good friend of mine, who is always up for doing something spontaneous, also thought it was a great idea. So guess what? We're all going! Me, DH, my friend, her husband and probably even their daughter.

Not only are we going, but many of my blogger and Facebook friends are going. People I haven't seen since college are going. This could be big.

"So what," you may say. "Your husband's right. Jon Stewart is just a comedian. Why are people taking this seriously, as if it matters?"

The answer is, he has struck a nerve with the American people. I think everyone is sick to death of hearing the wrangling going on in Congress. Nothing gets done. The Republicans in government are perfectly happy with that, but most Independents and moderate Republicans in the Real World are not. Those of us on the left are sorely disappointed that so many of the changes Candidate Obama promised are not taking place under President Obama, or if they are, they are being watered down until they are but a shadow of what was promised, just to get them past the Congress.

Those of us who have worked in the business world know that nothing gets done unless people are willing to see the other side of things, and to work with those with whom they may not see eye-to-eye. But in Congress, it seems as if the participants never learned this. To them, it's "My side has to win at all costs." They don't care whether their "win" is a win for the American people or not.

Politics doesn't just make strange bedfellows. Politics also makes people power-hungry, greedy and angry. I'd be willing to bet that testosterone levels go up in members of either gender once they get involved in politics.

One reason is, there is something wrong with a system that has House Representatives up for re-election every two years. For all intents and purposes, these people are campaigning 24/7 for 24 months. There is never a real opportunity or incentive to settle down and work with each other, especially since the whole House turns over at once, every election cycle. Those elected to the Senate, at least, have six-year terms, which allow them some opportunity to actually do some work, which is why the Senate appears marginally more sane than the House. However, there is still always someone up for re-election each cycle, so it's not as if politics doesn't play a part at all times there as well.

And what about the poor President? He has a four-year term, but after the first two years, he too is starting to run for re-election. Heck, the other side starts thinking of who they're going to put up against him next time during the month after his election!

At one time, when the Founding Fathers first came up with the idea of the Congress, they had no idea there would be people who made a career out of being in politics. They never envisioned six-term or seven-term Congressmen, or Senators who served 40 years in office. They thought people wouldn't want to be away from their farms that long; that one term, or maybe two, would be quite enough. It is time for a change in how Congress does business. We need longer terms, and fewer of them, for the House, and term limits for the Senate.

But I digress. "What about Jon Stewart's Rally?" you say. "I thought that's what we were talking about."

It is. But one reason for the partisan politics getting worse and worse is the constant election cycles, as well as, of course, Cable News shows - "News" being a term I use loosely, since none of these shows are news shows anymore, they are all partisan on one side or another.

The media truly is the message. That's why all we see on these shows are the Tea Partiers. It doesn't matter that these people are a small part of the total population, they're making all the noise, and they're getting all the publicity. Glenn Beck's rally in Washington had all kinds of coverage on every station, and the pictures of the rally showed a sea of faces at the Mall, giving the impression that his followers are a huge Movement.

Now, finally, the rest of us have a chance to have OUR say. Jon Stewart's "Rally to Restore Sanity" will give the moderates (and liberals - since most of Stewart and Colbert's fans lean left) - a chance to show their numbers. Even among liberals, many of us decry the nasty discourse on both sides of the aisle, and the inability of either side to work meaningfully together.

According to CNN contributor, John Avalon,
"This isn't a concealed campaign rally for either party. It's a counterprotest against the rising tide of conformity that causes hyperpartisans to demonize people with whom they disagree. It's the anti-demagogue Saturday on the mall; people taking to the streets and yelling, 'Be reasonable!'"

That said, I do hope that the excitement generated by this gathering will help propel the moderates and independents to the polls, and energize them to vote for the more reasonable candidate of their choice. Otherwise we might end up with a Congress full of Tea Party representatives.

Jon Stewart likes to point out that he specializes in "fake news" and is a comedian. But when you're voted the most trusted man in news, that means you have a responsibility to uphold. I think he is up to it and that this rally will be an amazing event. I look forward to seeing many fellow bloggers and Facebook friends there, as well as friends from my own town. And if you're not going to Washington, I encourage you to go to a satellite rally in your area if they are having one!


okjimm said...

//Jon Stewart is just a comedian. //

...and a banana is just a fruit.... somehow they are both apeeling....

...I break me up!!!

Sherry Peyton said...

Well said Maui! Linky love to you. You are juicing up America with this one!

Sue said...

I would love to go to the rally, sounds like alot of fun. But the rally we liberals should be going to is the one Ed Schultz will be speaking at on October 2nd. You can read about it on his website.

I respectfully disagree with your House and Senate opinion. The House works ten times harder then the Senate and has over 200 bills passed that are sitting on the Senate floor waiting to be looked at. Our Senators are a disgraceful bunch, ALL of them. We need real leadership in the Senate.

KGMom said...

Where to start?
Yes, the great middle has sh*t to do, as Jon Stewart so aptly notes.
Yes, I am tired of the incessant carping and sniping of tea-partiers and far right wing-nuts.
Yes, I wish Dems would grow some chest hair and balls and knock back the crap from the other side.
I love watching Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow BUT I end up mad, depressed, ready to apply for citizenship somewhere sane.

So, the rally matters hugely. The silent majority (blecch, remember that term) needs to let folks know we're here, we're mad, and WE vote too.

LeftLeaningLady said...

I'm sooo there. I can't wait. I want to make myself heard. Using my inside voice. Let me know where you will be/ when you will be arriving. I will be in Baltimore before 9:30 on Friday morning. We should have breakfast.. or brunch. I heard rally @ 8. Today I heard 12 noon. WTF?

TomCat said...

Mimi, I love the idea and wish it were not so far away. I would go. But one correction, if I may.

The Democrats buried the Don't Ask Don't Tell repeal in some obscure part of a military spending bill, then tacked on some other controversial stuff (the DREAM Act)and then didn't let the Republicans make every single amendment they wanted to make.

When McConnell said that, he was lying. Reid actually did offer to allow Republican amendments. It never got to that point, because the Republicans filibustered bringing it to the floor for debate, disallowing the process in which amendments are offered.

Life As I Know It Now said...

I consider myself extreme left but hell I am happy if anything remotely slightly left gets passed. I don't think the extreme left is as horrible as the extreme right, hands down, any day of the week. If the extreme left were to win some legislative victories we'd have REAL national healthcare and REAL social security. What we have now is water downed crap that doesn't achieve much of anything and pisses everyone off--left, right and center.

Mauigirl said...

Thanks for all the comments!

OKJIMM, you crack me up too!
Sherry, thanks for the linkage!
Sue, I hadn't known about the Ed Schultz rally, too bad I can't go to both! And yes, the House does work hard, but I do think sometimes even the Dems put a littler too much pork into their bills! ;-) Of course, it's usually pork I approve of, so I wouldn't complain - but maybe it makes it harder for the legislation to get passed....just a thought.
Heidi Lou, they may not be trying to lose, but they may succeed without even trying. And the media doesn't help by talking about how the Dems are all going to lose in their 24/7 news programs.
KGMom, I agree. I wish the Dems would stand up for what they believe and grow a pair!
LLL, I haven't heard any details yet about when the rally is - hopefully noon and not 8 a.m., I am so not a morning person! I'll be with some other folks so probably won't be able to do lunch but am hoping to meet up with my blog/Facebook friends at some point during the rally. We'll have to figure out a place to meet when the time gets closer!
TC, thanks for keeping me honest on my facts - what I heard was that although the Dems offered to let them make amendments, the GOP wanted to make unlimited amendments and they didn't go along. But to your point, it would never even have gotten that far since they filibustered anyway. I wish we'd go back to the days where they had to really filibuster and get up there and talk for hours on end so the public could see them in action, shutting down progress.

Fran said...

So glad you are going.... if we are not actively seeking sanity, how are we to find it???

Although I must say, I was personally disappointed Jon made a point of dissing the ladies of Code Pink....
they do a little outrageous street theater to make their point & get the media attention as a result.
Let's just say they take the scenic route to sanity.

Kind of the same for Grayson... he does not tiptoe around. When he brought out the easel
and said the republican health care plan was *hurry up & die*.... now that may sound outrageous, but in many cases, people are left to go bankrupt & yes, die. It's not an official policy, but it happens here in the US of A.

I can relate to their approaches because the GOP crazy would have us believe all we need to do is let the wealthy keep their money & not pay a fair share, even though they just basked in 9 years of tax cuts.... no matter the county is either already bankrupt or seriously on the edge.

The DADT garbage is a blatant violation of the Fed's own rules barring discrimination. It's the 21st century & we - a country that apparently likes wars, conducts witch hunts to out gays in the military. It is supposed to be about duty & honor-- yet they ask the soldier to lie about who they are.

We need some sanity alright- any semblance of sanity.
Have fun @ the rally...& let's hope this sanity is contagious!

nonnie9999 said...

my best friend lives near d.c., and i was tempted to go. spent too much money on a bed this month, though.

i hope the turnout is huge. although faux news will not cover it (or use an angle that makes it look like almost nobody is there, if they can), it will be nice to see normal people get some attention for a change.

Tim said...

Sue, I think I'm with you on this.
Since I have no pot, John's Rally may not work for me. I hear Tea baggers plan to attend. Sure They have a right to... but since my stomach can easily sour it might not be the best for me. Ed's Rally I feel more a duty to go. But if I get some weed, hey you never know...

libhom said...

Stewart's claims of "extremist" rhetoric on the left are absolute nonsense. I stopped watching him entirely after he went off on misogynistic and heterosexist rants defending a venomous bigot like Scott Brown.