Rally to Watch More Ironic TV Shows

GOODSIGNWinMcNamee:Getty I wasn't at the Stewart "Rally for to Restore Sanity" thingie, but I followed it on Twitter.

Andrew Sullivan loved the rally and discusses the vibe.

There were very, very few explicitly partisan appeals or personal attacks on public figures; and if the  Beck rally coalesced around vague themes of patriotism, God and motherhood, this one seemed motivated by a simple sensibility of reason, empiricism and humor. But it was no less determined for that, in a quiet, midwestern, Frances-McDormand-In-Fargo kind of way. It was BobBo, but also Generation Obama; it was cool, but also unfashionable in a frumpy NPR-listener kind of way. It was the post-everything American middle class.

The point, it seemed to me, was that politics isn't all there is to life, there is something slightly off about those who think it is, and that political ideology has come to define us culturally and personally far too much. So this wasn't an angry rally for the alienated Democratic left; or even a joyous rally like last fall's March for Equality; or a desperate and frustrated rally like the Tea Partiers. No one was demanding their country back; they were just demanding, well asking, for a little less polarization, and a little more mutual understanding.

I'm sorry, but it sounds really boring. Politics shouldn't be about a lifestyle of watching NPR and spouting insider jokes about bloggers. Being political — taking political positions, voting, supporting candidates — should be a component of your lifestyle.

Also, politics has to involve real politics. Call me crazy, but politics has to involve being for something. Sure, it's nice that Stewart critiques the press, but it has to go further than that. This was a fun, little, jokey rally. OK. But, now, give me a real rally. Irony a la carte, please.

UPDATE: Similar post from Michael Kazin. Laura/Geeky Mom talks about what it was like to be there.

Advertisements

29 thoughts on “Rally to Watch More Ironic TV Shows

  1. Beck rally coalesced around vague themes of patriotism, God and motherhood, this one seemed motivated by a simple sensibility of reason, empiricism and humor.
    In other words, both rallies were in support of “everything would be perfect if those idiots just understood things correctly.” Whee.

  2. Oh, Sullivan. I love how his second paragraph smears, well, basically everyone but the attendees, and then goes onto claim that he and the attendees just want more mutual understanding!
    The attendees traveled to DC, fought heinous traffic and crowds, stood in the cold for hours at a rally by a political comentator, all of which proves… that we’re the ones who take politics too seriously, not them! They’re the moderates! They’re the voice of reason!
    I spent Saturday night with a baby in my arms, hand-sewing the finishing touches to my daughter’s Halloween costume. It doesn’t get more rabid, angry, and obsessed with politics than that, does it?

  3. “Also, politics has to involve real politics.”
    Yeah. If it’s about listening to NPR and having cool ironic signs, then, isn’t this really a party?
    And, being against the media is not a position: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.” (Brandeis, 1927)
    (I saw Wendy’s picture of the sign with “Keep Calm and Carry On.” Still love that sign).

  4. Well, I was at the rally. Arrived on the mall at 1:45, after driving 4 hours, standing in an hour line for the train, and riding the train for 1/2 hour. I take my politics seriously and I think the effort I made to get there in part proves that. And I think that was true for many people there. We were there to say, we are here. The world isn’t just about tea party people yelling about stuff or far left people yelling about the tea party. We exist as a group of people that politicians should maybe pay a little more attention to. Quit giving Rush and Beck and Palin and Sharron Angle the air time. The problems we face are complex, and as many signs attested, no rally or simple slogan is going to help us find solutions. I think what we were saying was, hey, we’re willing to listen and talk and think about how to fix some things. It was quite a thing to be there, not in an electrifying or solidifying way, but just to see that there were that many people willing to pack in and show their existence.

  5. You capture my ambivalence about the whole affair quite well, Laura. I listened to and thought very highly of Stewart’s closing speech; “If we amplify everything, we hear nothing” is about as sensible and wise a bit of political and media criticism as I’ve heard this whole cycle. But I think even more highly of Kazin’s reproach to secular liberals for thinking that telling people to “calm down” constitutes a political statement: “America remains a nation of true believers. Secular liberals with a decent sense of humor will have to learn, or relearn, how to adapt to that reality and turn it to their advantage.” That really nails it there.

  6. “But I think even more highly of Kazin’s reproach to secular liberals for thinking that telling people to “calm down” constitutes a political statement:”
    I disagree. I think telling people to calm down is a big part of what one’s response should be to many situations. I was actually told to calm down this morning (when I was worrying about girl boy interactions in the 4th grade) and I, in turn, got to tell someone else to calm down. I do believe that extravagant claims that life as we know it is going to end if [we don’t do something about gay marriage, or global warming, or teen sex, or if we don’t overturn Citizen’s United, pick whatever you want] are almost always wrong. Humans usually muddle through. That doesn’t mean that we can be complacent, but true belief (in global warming or against gay marriage) is usually more dangerous than remaining calm.

  7. OK, Laura, you were there. Good. Explain it to me. Because I was the target audience for this rally – liberal, NPR listener, blogger, the whole thing, but I didn’t get it. So, Stewart is saying that we need to talk reasonably and intelligently. Sure. I agree with him. But what should we talk reasonably about? Did he say that we should support gay marriage or vote Democratic tomorrow or give more taxes to poor people? I didn’t pick that up in the commentary. And maybe we shouldn’t talk civilly. Maybe we should shout and yell and get people energized. This rally seemed to be all about putting people to sleep.
    Seemed like a missed opportunity to me. Shrug.

  8. I agree that there is a great value in being calm, but calm is one of those things that you cannot actually ask for. I always get pissed off when somebody says calm down to me. At least 9 out of 10 times, what it really means is: “You have to do it my way. You have to pretend you are doing it my way because you think I am right. Then you have to apologize for disagreeing with me.” That’s why I only use it on small children who have done something really dangerous or destructive.

  9. And indeed, who should we talk reasonably with?
    Bob Saget or, in the later seasons, John Stamos. The other one I don’t trust, not after listening to Alanis Morissette.

  10. Isn’t “Calm down!” what you say to somebody after you’ve just screwed up big time and don’t want to take responsibility?

  11. After having worked for a progressive Democratic candidate for a year and a half, I can say that I know a fair number of politically active people. These are people who volunteer for candidates, write checks, attend candidates’ forums, show up at demonstrations, or even help organize them. They read and talk and write about issues. They belong to political clubs and debate passionately at the meetings about candidates and policy and strategy, and about who they should support and why. They get on buses to go to PA or upstate NY and knock on doors when races are close. Some of them run for office themselves. (They don’t all do all of these things—this is the spectrum.) Not one of these people attended the Rally to Restore Sanity.
    But I know a lot of others who did attend the rally. And they are not particularly political. Voting is the most political thing they do, and they only do that when there’s no line and they’re passing by anyway after picking up milk. It’s not that they’re so disillusioned they won’t vote, but rather that it may not fit conveniently into their day. They’re likely to go into the voting booth having only the vaguest idea of who’s on the ballot. They went to the rally because they are big fans of Jon Stewart and/or Stephen Colbert, and because they love spectacle and being part of something big. It was akin to a free Simon & Garfunkel Concert in Central Park. And there wasn’t really anything there to be against. Who’s against wanting people to being nicer? (Except, possibly, laura).
    I’m not saying that the rally was devoid of political people (the other Laura is one example, clearly). But I think they were a minority. The people who attended this rally are not the group to look to to accomplish anything, politically. Though they might be the group who can be persuaded to vote, which is no small thing.

  12. I was at the RtRS, and I am pretty political. Not as active as I once was (I worked on the Clinton Gore campaign in 92). My husband and I brought both our kids, who were miserable, though I have to give them credit for not entirely losing it, and I have to give myself a “Bad Mama, No Cookie!” for bringing an 8yo with AS to a huge rally like that. On the other hand, despite numerous catastrophes, he seems to have bounced back pretty well, which is, in the end, what I want him to be: resilient. Also, now that it’s over, they are pretty impressed they were there, especially when we show them the aerial photos of the crowd and point to where we were.
    Why did we go? I haven’t been to a political rally since, I don’t know, ’92? I did want to be part of something again. I wanted not to feel alone or isolated, as I so often do, EVEN THOUGH I AM IN ACADEMIA. Sorry–we’re not all leftist anarchists, you know. My husband is a diehard Stewart-Colbert fan.
    I liked Christine Becker’s report on the rally, especially this: “But thankfully, at least, my feeling of alienation was obliterated by the roar of the crowd, the graciousness of the gathered, and the recognition that it wasn’t just me and my TV screen in a battle, it was a huge group of us (plus innumerable signs) yearning for rationality and accountability.”
    Like Becker, I have pretty much stopped watching TDS for similar reasons, though I watch clips now and then.

  13. BJ,
    I think telling people to calm down is a big part of what one’s response should be to many situations….true belief (in global warming or against gay marriage) is usually more dangerous than remaining calm.
    I doubt Kazin would disagree with either of your points here, but they also don’t complement each other very well. Yes, calming down is often the reasonable thing to do. But getting excited enough about something so as to be willing to actually do something–donate, speak out, educate yourself, patiently listen at town meetings, whatever–usually requires a belief in something…and if there are people who think that the most important “belief” is the belief in being easy-going and calm and shrugging your shoulders at all the other believers out there, then we know which group of people are going to be writing the laws for the next 20 years. It won’t be the “calm” ones.
    Kazin is obviously addressing a stereotype; there’s no real reason why being calm and respectful and passionate about your beliefs are incompatible, as Stewart himself probably at least partially exemplifies. But then there are the folks which Suze talks about; they fit the stereotype to a T. And that makes Kazin’s warning worth listening to.

  14. Was the rally a missed opportunity? In many ways, yes. I’m not sure, though, what we would have rallied for–or against. We don’t all agree. That’s one of the aspects of the Democratic that is problematic, but which, I think, the rally embraced. It’s a frustrating thing, to be sure, especially when that diversity/complexity shows up in the government itself. In fact, that’s where I think we should be louder. Obama didn’t stop trying to reach compromise early enough–so we got health care without a public option and a bank regulation bill that doesn’t do enough.
    And Laura, I think you’re probably more angry than most of the people at the rally, and so therefore, it wasn’t really for you. But he did talk a lot about prejudice–especially against Muslims–and how dangerous that was. There were implications of extending that anti-prejudice to gays and other groups, but nothing explicit. But basically, the message was quit saying every Muslim is a terrorist and that gay marriage destroys life as we know it, etc. That message needs to get out there somehow.
    I don’t know what to tell you except that it was fun and made me feel a little better about the people I share this country with. 200,000 or so people were out there showing that they are reasonable people. The post rally crowd was so interesting. We all started filing down 7th street, basically taking over for a few blocks, merrily chatting as we sought out food and drink. When asked to move to the sidewalk, we did. No cars were destroyed. People queued amicably and chatted as they waited. The last time I saw that was after a play in London. Everyone felt happy. Kind of cool, really.

  15. I only watched on TV but I thought it was great and the signs were hilarious. I mean, how do you have a direct response to the craziness that the tea party movement and Glenn Beck manage to come up with, without it being primarily a comedic response? You can’t reasonably have a rally where everyone has serious signs claiming “Obama is too a US Citizen! Neener!”

  16. I’d love to see Laura/GeekyMom’s response to your questions.
    I think your opinion on this issue is very good. I haven’t watched all the clips of the rally yet, and although I’ve enjoyed Colbert’s and Stewart’s performance for years, if they are the best political commentators there are right now, things are totally going down the drain in the U.S.
    What Suze wrote above is one of the things that makes me quite upset by the way politics works (or doesn’t) in this country “Voting is the most political thing they do, and they only do that when there’s no line and they’re passing by anyway after picking up milk. It’s not that they’re so disillusioned they won’t vote, but rather that it may not fit conveniently into their day.
    I will try to blog about this tomorrow. In any case, I disagree with Suze’s statement that maybe Laura is against people being nicer. That’s not what you said, right? you said that maybe sometimes the only way is to “scream” a bit in order to be heard — I’m totally paraphrasing, correct me if I’m wrong.

  17. It’s true. That was gentle ribbing, which I knew laura would get. That note probably would’ve benefited from an emoticon, but I am generally against them.
    Plus, I actually agree with laura that sometimes people have to stand up and argue for what they believe in. Those arguments can get heated, even, and that’s okay. But it should be possible do that and remain within the realm of basic civility.
    From most accounts, the rally sounds like a fun party. If it had been held in NY, or I had been in DC, I might’ve gone. I’m glad that commenters who attended came away with a renewed sense of hope and solidarity with other reasonable people. But I’m not sure it means much else or that it will have any political consequence.

  18. It was akin to a free Simon & Garfunkel Concert in Central Park.
    I thought they weren’t talking to each other, but that may have just been wishful thinking on my part.

  19. Obama didn’t stop trying to reach compromise early enough–so we got health care without a public option and a bank regulation bill that doesn’t do enough.
    Obama over-compromised himself before he won the election by supporting TARP. So, now I have to vote for Pat Toomey as my only way to vote against someone who supported TARP. If Obama had more pull in his own party, I could be voting against Specter, which would have been more fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s