It’s all Hallows Eve, the day before the Solemnity of All Saints and the day after the Restore Sanity DC fare. I didn’t watch any of the rally, but I did hear Jon Stewart’s closing remarks after a friend posted a link on FB.
Here is what I see happening on both sides of the rally table…
The folks who attend the Tea Party protests, for the most part, are joining together out of a desire to protest specific actions, laws and policies of the government that they disagree with, much like the Iraq war protesters did a few years ago. Their plea for a smaller government seems dubious though in light of the fact that they did not seem worried when Bush Republicans spent so much money on two wars for the eight years of W’s presidency. Therefore, voices on the left conclude that the Tea Party’s real motivation for protest must be a dislike of President Obama because he is not white. A real conversation starter for sure.
The Restore Sanity rally attendees, the self-described “moderates” on the other hand are supposed to be a bastion of sanity. Nice as the idea of being moderate sounds, can I request a consensus of what that is supposed to mean? Because it looks to me like a veiled attempt to suggest that if you are sympathetic to any ideas of Tea Party, you get to be called an extremist.
But after looking at many of the signs at the rally, a good portion of the rallying seemed to be in protest of the Tea Party’s very existence, evidently seeing their cause as unworthy because their reasons for protest boil down to the simple unfortunate fact of their being under the spell of Fox News where they hear nothing but nasty lies funded by the Mighty Corporations (which have nothing to do with big government) and the Saudi Prince…
Therefore they are the haters, unlike the smart moderates feeding off the love offered freely over at Huffington Post, MSNBC, Bill Maher and my presonal favorite, the NY Times Opinionator Supreme Maureen Dowd.
The Tea Party folks are those silly superstitious religious folk, and specifically Christian, which disqualify them from being rational, plus their crowds are too white, which makes them racist. Obviously.
Oh boy. So Mr. Stewart, operating from the safety net of comedy, gathers together his flock bearing signs like these which make them not hateful, but funny:
She’s right (whatever her opinions might be) because she knows she’s educated and anyone who disagrees with her is therefore uneducated ? A shining example of reason for sure.
My only wish is that the “moderates” could see that they’re just as entangled in the cultural knot as those they rail against and that without the ability to have the conversations that we’re not having now, we will never reach a place where understanding between one another just might lead us all on to a path we can agree to occupy together. I agree that the polarization and inability to try to understand the content of cultural positions exists on every strand of the political spectrum. It will take more than a rallying of the troops by either Jon Stewart or Glenn Beck to start the dialogue needed that could invite clarity and civility and sanity into our culture.
The closing speech by Mr. Stewart is fascinating.
He says, “We are living in hard times, not end times…” and the crowd cheers at the obvious reference to the stereotypical view of irrational, fearful, fundamentalist Christians who believe that we are living in the last days before Christ returns.
Too bad Mr. Stewart can’t see the same dynamic that exists in the language of the “educated moderates” with their secular version of end times better known as Climate Change. Oh, that’s right, that’s “science.” And each educated member of the secular flock knows all the science s/he needs to, to know that An Inconvenient Truth is the FINAL TRUTH? Can we all agree that most of us are relying on sources of our choosing in this debate and very few of us are qualified to argue the “science?”
Therefore, I am an agnostic when it comes to man-made climate change, for lots of reasons. One, we haven’t had the kind of record-keeping capabilities in use now until quite recently, and two, there seems to be a lot of money-changers in the Climate Changers Temple of Doom, just as many as there are in the Fundamentalist Christian Temple of Doom.
Stewart goes on to make the plea that America is not what we see on the 24/7 media blitz. True enough. He then says:
“So, why would we work together? Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster? If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable. Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own? We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do. We work together to get things done every damn day!”
It’s hard to be sure who he is directing the appeal to sanity to…
But if, as he claims, we already “work together” why do we need to restore sanity? If all is well with the folks in spite of our disagreements, whose sanity is it that needs restoring, the media, or just the media that you disagree with, “Faux News?” Gosh, if the conservatives would only stop being conservatives, stop listening to any media that disagrees with Us, the “can we just get along, kumbaya club”, all would be well with the world?
True the problem is not that we don’t work together, but that in the public and political arena our cultural ideas about who we are, where we come from and where we’re going are split into two camps, which together are monopolizing the conversation. Even if you count as a third the identity of the independent this often times is an attempt at rejecting the limitations of the polarity of left/right but remains ineffective as a functioning voice within the operation of our political system.
We need to find a way to see the political spectrum as beyond the either left/right, conservative/liberal, secular/religious, democrat/republican duality. Where is the nuance of choice in these either/or options?
I believe that the failure of our political system to incorporate plurality within its very structure of operation is forcing us into political camps not of our choosing and not representing the fullness of our humanity or our culture. We settle reluctantly or willingly into one side or the other, or refuse to play by not voting, or vote third party in spite of our knowing we will most likely not win any representation with our vote.
The change our political system needs is a complete upheaval of the two party system into a no party system. A no party system would hopefully allow a much broader range of representation and discourage the monopoly of ideas currently holding the public debate hostage.
I wonder what Mr. Stewart will take away from his rally? After hearing his closing speech and looking through these photos of rally signs it seems that there were actually two rally’s yesterday, the one that Mr. Stewart attended, and the one his faithful flock attended. Sadly, I think he does mean well, he wants to be a voice of sanity, but until more of us can muster up the courage to give the excluded “other” the benefit of the doubt as to their sanity we can’t really hear or even see each other.
There’s at least one more rally we need to have and that would be the Rally to Restore Restoration.