What Does The Daily Show Rally Stand For, Other Than Attention For The Daily Show?
The One America rally last weekend brought tens of thousands of left-leaning Americans to the National Mall in Washington D.C. Already, that’s looking like small potatoes compared to the Rally To Restore Sanity that’s planned for October 30th in Washington D.C. The Facebook page for the event already shows 187,691 people already committed to attend.
Why the big difference? It has to do with TV. The Rally To Restore Sanity is being organized by Comedy Central star personality Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart has a TV show that entertains people, and so a lot of people are ready to listen to him, and when he calls for people to come to a rally, his viewers agree. They’ll come.
So, what does this Rally To Restore Sanity stand for? Go to the rally’s official web site, and you’ll find only the following non-explanation: “Think of our event as Woodstock, but with the nudity and drugs replaced by respectful disagreement; the Million Man March, only a lot smaller, and a bit less of a sausage fest; or the Gathering of the Juggalos, but instead of throwing our feces at Tila Tequila, we’ll be actively *not* throwing our feces at Tila Tequila.”
Does that sound more like a street fair than a political rally to you? If you want to try to understand the message of the rally, you could try listening to Jon Stewart’s announcement message for the rally, in which he calls for “rationality”. But what’s rational? Which policies are rational and which aren’t? Jon Stewart doesn’t say.
Stewart goes on to say that the “dissatisfied but non-ideological”. That sounds like incoherent irritation to me. Is that what the rally is for? To express the feeling of being upset without committing to understanding what people are upset at?
Jon Steward says that the event is for “moderates”, but what’s a moderate? George W. Bush campaigned for President as a moderate. Remember when he promised to be a “compassionate conservative”?
Stewart then promises that the rally will be “fun”, with “special guests”, before the finally gets as specific as he’ll ever get about the rally. He unveils its theme: “Take it down a notch for America.”
Take it down a notch? Is that really what’s wrong with America – that people are too wrapped up in political affairs? Jon Stewart seems to think so, and he celebrates Americans who don’t attend rallies, don’t go to protests, and don’t call their representatives in Congress because they think that they have better things to do.
In his rally announcement, Stewart doesn’t take time to examine the substance of the political ideas that different activists promote. Instead, Stewart adopts a glib rejection of anyone who gets upset about anything.
In his harangue against activism, Jon Stewart lumps in anti-war protesters with people who want to ban mosques. He suggests that people who got angry at George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have the same problem as racists who hate Barack Obama because of his African ancestry.
The Rally To Restore Sanity doesn’t stand for any ideals. It stands up for not standing up. It’s a protest for indifference. The message of Jon Stewart’s rally: Just calm down and have a good time. Don’t get upset about anything. You don’t need to commit to any particular ideals, or pay attention to any particular issues. Just be nice, and hang back in the crowd. Don’t participate in the political process, and certainly don’t protest when you find out about something bad taking place. Just turn on Comedy Central, watch Jon Stewart and have a giggle, then forget about it.
It’s appropriate that Jon Stewart is promoting his Rally To Restore Sanity on Facebook, where activism has been reduced to clicking a button that says “like”, and then moving on to send someone a hug or go play Farmville. Jon Stewart’s middle age is showing, as he’s slacked off to become little more than a political valium.