If your Potentially Best Thing Ever alarm went off this morning and you’re not quite sure why, here’s the explanation. Last night on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart went Glenn Beck on us and announced a rally in Washington, DC for Sat. Oct. 30. The purpose of the Rally to Restore Sanity: to take back the conversation from the 15 to 20 percent of screamers and conspiracy theorists who have dominated the national conversation through noise, chutzpah and entertainment value.
“We live in troubled times,” Stewart announced, “with real people facing real problems, problems that have real if imperfect solutions that I believe 70 to 80 percent of our population could agree to try and could ultimately live with. Unfortunately, the conversation and process is controlled by the other 15 to 20 percent.”
He continued: “Why don’t we hear from the 70 to 80 percenters? Well, most likely, because you have ____ to do.” So Stewart proposes to give them something to do for a day—if they can get a sitter—by holding a rally on the Mall for people who can disagree with other people without comparing them to Hitler.
It’s funny, and it’s dead serious. Stewart may rely on the cover of being “just a fake news program,” but at least since he went off on Crossfire in 2004, he’s also had a very earnest distaste for the media personalities and politicians whose sole purpose, it seems, is to whip people into psychosis. You would think, looking at the way the country runs now, that America took the movie Network not as a cautionary tale but a how-to manual. Maybe Stewart can give a voice to the people who are not “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore” but rather, you know, pretty ticked off yet willing to keep giving it a shot.
For anyone with palm-sized dents in their foreheads from watching cable news and reading blog comments—that is, pretty much the Daily Show audience, and then some—this has to resonate, and I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot more about this. It would be great if Stewart and his rally could restore some cachet to the idea of reason and civility. But then where would he get his material?
In any case, if you disagree with him, you do have a concurrent alternative: Stephen Colbert’s March to Keep Fear Alive: