A few thoughts on the Rally. First, here’s an image of the rally compared to Beck’s rally earlier this year via airphotoslive.com:
I know the point of the rally was not to compare or compete or whatever, but still… I don’t know if this points to something fundamentally flawed in the analysis of the enthusiasm gap, or if it just means that Stewart/Colbert are more popular than Glenn Beck. All I know is that the rally looks like it was a lot of fun.
Jack Gillis was there and he noted that there were fundamental similarities between the Beck and Stewart rallies as well:
It was important to both crowds to know that we weren’t alone in drowning in bleakness. We were together drowning in bleakness.
That sounds about right.
I thought Jon Stewart’s speech was great. I also think that there’s something of a misnomer in the title of the rally itself – which was sort of the point: Americans really haven’t gone insane. Sanity has not really been misplaced the last two years. A lot of optimism has died, but the vast majority of craziness – as Stewart points out – takes place in D.C. and on cable TV. The anger and insanity do exist, but “Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives”. For better or worse, most people don’t obsess over this stuff.
Indeed, for most Americans who don’t obsessively watch cable TV or read political blogs, the terms ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ are rarely even spoken or thought about all that much. Plenty of Americans don’t even know who Glenn Beck is, or the first thing about actual policy decisions, or who to blame for the bad ones – which might be why the GOP is still poised, with one day left before the polls open, to make sizeable gains in the House.
Either way, like any good fiction, things are likely to get worse before they get better. The signs at the Sanity rally were funnier than the signs at the Beck rally, but one wonders if the value of irony will be quite as useful at the polls as passion and fear.