Centrist Power?- Comedy Central Party Flexes its Muscle in D.C.
by Dan Ehrlich

Massive Stewart/Colbert Rally Impresses the Normally Unimpressed, Highlights Political Divide
The success of the conjoined Rallies to Restore Sanity/To Keep Fear Alive proved two things, there are a lot of left leaning fence sitters in America and John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are major celebrities who were able to put on a show filled with other celebrities.

This winning combination wound-up drawing a crowd Saturday in Washington DC that rivaled the more than 200,000 right winger Glen Beck was able to draw to Capitol with his Rally to Restore Honor back on August 28. But, it nobbled the left wing One Nation Rally Oct. 2, which was estimated to have had less than 100,000 attending.

In America's flip/flop political landscape it’s very difficult to judge how many middle of the road citizens there are. It's safe to say many fence sitting swing voters elected Barack Obama. And it probably was just as difficult to estimate how many of these swingers were at the rally.

Of course, in truth both Stewart and Colbert are card-carrying liberals. However, as TV pros they knew to avoid a bad pilot show such as the One Nation Rally, they had to broaden their base. It worked, bringing in a cross section of mainly young white people from all over the country.

Whether it will have any effect of the mid term elections is anyone's guess. My guess is no. People have already made up their minds. But, in terms of these rallies, the mid term outcomes may explain the shifting national mood...a mood that seems to be played out in the aftermath of these events with wildly over or understated attendance figures. By the combative manner in which the two polarized sides depicted each other’s rallies, one might think our national survival was dependent on which had the biggest turnout

Beck's people claimed as many as 500,000 attended theirs, while the most authoritative estimates were less than half that figure. The One Nation people claimed their rally was as big as Beck's, a gross overestimate. So far, Stewart and Colbert's only claim jokingly has been in the billions. But, others estimate the crowd to be more than 200,000. And, it's interesting to note some other cities showed considerable interest in th event…one Austin, Tex., had a satellite rally at which hundreds of people watched the real event on a theater sized TV screen.

More importantly what all these do is clarify the nation’s political landscape. The success of the Beck rally and now the Stewart/Colbert event reinforce the view America maintains strong conservative roots that spread out to the middle of the road where people become more and more progressive. But, by the time those roots reach the other side of the street they have shrunk and become rather small.

This is even better illustrated by the success of right wing talk radio shows and Fox News when compared to all other news operations. Network TV news, which might be considered the home of the swingers, has been declining for decades and on the left, national public radio and TV hasn’t been building on its liberal base. Of course, then there’s the late national liberal station Air America that had so few listeners and fewer advertisers, it was cancelled just like some failed TV series.

The problems for the left are twofold. First, they have nothing to offer anyone except fantasy-based ideals that often exclude entire segments of society and criticism of the right. The negative message doesn’t play well as a national voice. Even the left’s stronghold, Hollywood, didn’t step up to rescue Air America…money will more often than not trump ideals.

And second, the college campus idealism and activism of the 60s isn't present today. How many major anti- war rallies have there been lately? Many of today's young people are the fruits of the 60s, self-indulgent hedonist members of the so-called entitled generation worried about their entitlement not political causes.

The right, however, lives in the past and offers its massive base a daily declaration of war on progressive left-wing ideas they claim are wrecking the country. Since millions of Americans can still remember how “good things” used to be and how they are now, the idea of turning the clock back by rejecting progress is inviting. It’s a lot like the British anti mechanical Luddite movement during the 19th Century Industrial Revolution.

The problem for America as a whole is neither right nor left has a vision for the future. The left is concerned with present day problems they see, yet never concern themselves with the long-term impact their actions and solutions may have on the future. And since the right lives in the past, the future for them is undefined except in terms smaller government. Future social ills and deprivation have no place in the right’s idea of the “good old days.”

As for the often-maligned centrists, they’re waiting for a messiah. And last Saturday they were John Stewart and Steven Colbert.

No comments:

Post a Comment

comments here: