Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reflections on The Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity

According to 'polls' reported by the DC Caller (a wingnut rag, so take it with a grain of salt) only 1% of rally participants plan to vote Republican. Whether or not it was a political rally, ultimately, that's the only statistic that matters. And if Democrats or big ‘L’ small ‘l’ liberals (Brit/Canadian ‘Liberal’ party?) or lonely moderates were inspired by Jon Stewart to hop on the Peace Train in an updated salute to flower power, that’s okay too.

Back then, those original hippies couldn’t levitate the Pentagon, or stop the Vietnam War. Possibly they swung a damn close election to the dark Nixonian side. Ironically, in today’s political environment, Nixon would have been purged from the Republican Party. Some say that he was, but that’s another story.

Nixon said he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War. But it took a concerted, organized, grassroots movement of committed Americans mobilizing various sectors of society to finally bring an end to our bloodiest conflict of the last half-century. Not soon enough to saves the lives of so many of our troops who served and paid the ultimate sacrifice. Stateside, there was bloodshed and violence, too. Chicago 1968. Kent State 1970. Two examples of peaceful demonstrations turned violent and tragic by the repressive interventionist arm of the state.

Yet somehow, it was done.

Today’s progressive netroots are direct descendants of those 60s protesters. President Obama owes his election to them. And to the extent they have mobilized and turn out next Tuesday will determine the scope of Democratic pushback against the vaunted “wave.”

Elections matter. Elections have consequences. Today the Huffington Post ran a depressing lead story. “Likely Majority Will Be Non-Voters: Younger, Poorer, Less Educated, More Liberal.” A good chunk of them are likely Jon Stewart fans, too. If his rally inspired some of them to get out and vote, then it's all gravy. At a minimum, it was food for the soul. For a day. And it was good.

In the “high-wire act” that Stewart “pulled off magnificently,” according to Arianna Huffington, he had to gloss over appearances of overt partisanship or politics, even though it went off three days before a seminal election in our history. But Stewart wallopped Glenn Beck in attendance and vibes, I'm told. That too, was good.

Also glossed over were the relative but sharp differences in Stewart’s critique of cable news, of which his program is a part. It could not have been done objectively without singling out Fox News for special focus. It has been said ad nauseum, but it is worth repeating: Fox is not a legitimate news channel; it is the propaganda arm of the GOP. In this role, with an assist from Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and right wing hate radio, Fox has done enormous damage to the body politic.

There is a real, qualitative difference in how Fox reports and comments on the news as opposed to MSNBC and CNN. The latter two actually have standards and practices that preclude the broadcasting of outright lies. Fox does not. On MSNBC information is sourced and referenced in quotes. On Fox it is not.

Standards and practices of journalism is the essential difference between Fox and its competitors. Stewart, who feels strongly about civility in our political discourse fudged these differences to make a broader, apolitical point.

But that’s just tinkering around the edges. If Republicans make the gains predicted by Charlie Cook and overheard by Howard Fineman, then we’d better strap on our seat belts because we’re in for a rough, bone-jarring ride. Just as Paul Krugman predicted. And he’s never wrong.

The antidote. Get out there and vote. Tell your friends, everyone you know. Go vote. Your future, our future depends on it.


My favorite musical moment of the Jon Stewart rally: Yusuf Islam. I love this song, and just about everything this cat wrote. Thanks for bringing him out, Jon, if only for much too brief a moment:

No comments: