Take it down a notch


While I tend to lead to the liberal side on most issues (I could make Marx blush if I wanted), I simply have very little tolerance for the Democrats in office now. And I can’t seem to find much of anything that most current Republicans are pushing that I want to buy. But I also don’t think Obama is a secret Muslim, nor do I believe that comparing anyone to Hitler (really, why always Hitler?) is getting us anywhere in this country. The 24 hour news networks fail to actually report any news and instead stick to commentary (yes, I believe they all suck) and flashiness. I’m so glad I don’t have TV service (especially now that the political ads are starting).

Of course, when I check out the internet, it’s the same thing. There are very few (if any?) balanced news sources that actually promote journalistic integrity and serve up hard journalism. It’s either liberal or conservative. What happened to just getting the fucking news? The death of the print newspaper is something that we must watch more closely. For when the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune fall, so to will the funding for the real journalists of the world. The ones that are embedded with the troops. The ones that spend a month in the Rwanda snapping photos that open the world’s eyes to the atrocities there. Then we’ll be left with hot-dog eating contests and sound bites from the red carpet. Idiocracy anyone?

We have abandoned the notion that a well-informed public is a right and a necessity to democracy. Instead we’d rather get our news from people who would tell us how to feel about it. We’d rather be entertained than take the time to learn and be informed. I love NPR, but let’s be honest. It’s fucking boring. “…and in 8 minutes we’ll have Elenor Wigsby from Muncie, Indiana with some tips on how to get the dust off your ceiling fan…” They can’t compare to Fox News or MSNBC’s sound bites, flashy images, and 17 tickers running across the screen. So they win. Olberman and Maddow and Beck and O’Reilly. Have any one of them broken a story lately? Yet they continue to get the most viewers. And we’re led to believe that most Americans feel the same way. We’re led to believe that Americans are either marching with Tea-Partiers or they’re chaining themselves to trees in the Redwoods. No middle ground.

 In the land of the dulled masses, the man with the loudest megaphone is king.

Enter Jon Stewart.

If I lived within reasonable driving distance, I’d be heading to the rally. Despite what people might say, this rally is important. It’s important to show the world that we aren’t all on the fringe of either side of the political spectrum. It’s important that we show those on the fringe that they don’t speak for us, and shouldn’t pretend to. It’s important to show the world that “real” Americans aren’t always as bat-shit insane as E! and Fox News make us out to be. And it’s important to show the world that we’re sick of the dickwads on both sides of the crazy isle taking over the conversation.





Filed under Political

3 responses to “Take it down a notch

  1. What is “sanity” when we discuss politics? There are some who are tempted to respond to the coarse tenor of political commentary by declaring themselves “centrist,” meaning they don’t want to take sides in a football game between “conservatives” and “liberals.” There are also dangers in being “moderate” for the sake of being moderate.

    In Stewart’s announcement, he reached for examples of extreme rhetoric on both sides. On one side, the people calling Obama Hitler; okay, that was easy. On the opposite side, he reached and found — statements that Bush might be a war criminal. This, he presents as an example of “extreme rhetoric.”

    The only problem is, that statement is not so very extreme. Bush is not guilty, since there has been no trial (and there won’t be). There is however substantial evidence that he and senior officers of his administration committed war crimes. This is not partisan hyperbole, it is spelled out in international and domestic law.

    If being a “moderate” means ignoring serious issues or crimes for the sake of — I don’t even know what — then I don’t trust it anymore than I trust the “right” and “left.”

    We don’t need a “million moderate march” — but we sure could use teach-ins, civics education for adults, and political parties that advance candidates who are intelligent and mature and interested in good policy. I like Stewart and Colbert a lot, I really do, but these tongue-in-cheek rallies (and Colbert testifying to Congress in character) just seem like distractions to me.

  2. I would say that not calling in a comedian to testify before Congress is “sanity” in politics. I would say that not comparing someone to Hitler because they believe health care is a right for every person would be “sanity” in politics. While I might agree that the invasion of Iraq was an unjust atrocity and war crimes definitely seem to be committed, what good does drawing a Hitler ‘stache on his poster do? I think there are times that we need to stand up and be heard, but I feel that how we do that can be just as important.

    I don’t think moderates want to ignore the isssues at hand, they simply don’t want to fan the flames of extremeism by engaging in the same type of name-calling, shouting-match , WWE style politics we see today. Politics (and the news media that covers it) has become more about celebrity and headlines than substance and policy.

    “we sure could use teach-ins, civics education for adults, and political parties that advance candidates who are intelligent and mature and interested in good policy.”

    Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

    And as far as Colbert testifying, seriously I can’t believe that happend. Gross. Such a waste.

  3. I heard about Colbert testifying — it was for the Farm Workers. Would I have heard about any such testifying by, say, a farm worker? Probably not. And the Congressional Record is hardly a sacred text. There’s already a lot of out-and-out bullcrap in it. Colbert’s testimony was about his experience as a farmworker for one day. And how hard that work really is. American Idol is a distraction. Colbert was speaking for immigrant workers who have no voice in the halls of Congress.

    Colbert and Stewart’s work may not be contributing to any changing infrastructure in our political system, but there is something very powerful — and I think Adam mentioned this in his post — that they are to some degree filling a journalistic vacuum. They are pointing to that vacuum by lampooning it.

    When Jon Stewart took on Tucker Carlson on Crossfire, it started to punch a hole in the illusion that these shows were actually about news or political discourse. Colbert’s Emperor-has-no-clothes speech about Bush at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2007 at the time was shocking and unexpected. Colbert was not as well-known then, and I believe they brought him on thinking he would be getting up there to make fun of Liberals. But instead he delivered a fearless, searing, 10 minutes of piercing satire, pointed at Bush as well as the media that had been asleep to some horrible abuses of power for years. And he named them. He was speaking hard truths, which we had not been hearing in popular media at all.

    I heard somewhere that these Stewart / Colbert rallies are demonstrating by example that Glenn Beck and these extreme rally-ers are really just entertainment as well.

    They are carrying on an ancient and archetypal tradition — the one in which the Jester is the only one who can speak the truth to the King.

    Yeah, I don’t think it replaces teach-ins, Civics education, and good candidates, but there is a place for it.