Virtual Voices

A rally that undermined Democrats?

Campaign 2010

The crowd I saw at the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally to Restore Sanity/Fear was white, under 35, hip, and carrying witty signs, like, "I HAVE A SIGN." Or, "MY VIEWS ARE TOO COMPLEX TO FIT ON A SI." All the organizations I saw who set up shop around the event were left-leaning (Amnesty International, Faith in Public Life), and the Democratic National Committee had set up phone banks for volunteers to man after the rally. People carried America flags with corporate logos as the stars and wore "Fight Fox" stickers. One young person held the sign, "Things are pretty OK."

Three days before a game-changing election, while the nation struggles with deep unemployment and federal debt, the last thing Democrats might want is heavy media coverage of a rally of financially secure, young liberals. Stewart at one point described the event as being for people with "jobs and lives."

Moreover, a number of Democrats have made the point that this hurts their campaign operations because thousands of potential get-out-the-vote volunteers were camped out at a Comedy Central rally. Associated Press reporter Phil Elliott tweeted today, "Clever signs don't vote or phone bank." President Obama even made the point to Pennsylvania canvassers today, in reference to a recent Democratic rally:

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Coming to a rally, that's not the hard part. What I need this weekend is 20,000 doors knocked on by all the volunteers who are here today.

Stewart and Colbert stayed funny and relatively nonpolitical, with Stewart holding "serious talk" until the end of the show, when he skewered the media for its overreactive coverage of politics (And of this rally? One report noted that more than 1,000 journalists applied for credentials to the event - organizers issued only 400). Stewart said at the end:

This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith, or people of activism, or to look down our noses at the heartland, or passionate argument, or to suggest that times are not difficult and we have nothing to fear. They are, and we do. But we live now in hard times, not end times.
Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emzleb.

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