The Rally To Restore Sanity and it’s alter-ego Keep Fear Alive went off in wonderful fashion in Washington, D.C the last Saturday of October, and by most accounts were successful. The combined Colbert and Stewart Rallies outdrew Glenn Beck by around 3 to 1. And as we have seen from the highlights, there was comedy mixed with a sound social message.
It’s admirable to long for an America where although people don’t always agree, they always get along. Where the differences come when talking about how to solve a problem instead of unmovable trenches. Trouble is, that’s not the America we live in today.
The far right has so successfully pushed the debate to the right that to be socially pro-active in anyway gets a person demonized. Any fair appraisal of Barack Obama, for example, would have his positions fairly solidly Republican in most areas a few decades ago. On many levels, Obama is more conservative than Eisenhower or Nixon. But in today’s upside-down world, he is called an extreme leftist.
They are angry at health care reform and stimulus as much as anything else, both programs designed to help average Americans. Funny, the right had no problem with deficit spending for wars and tax cuts to the rich when times were good, but are going wacky over stimulus to help keep the economy from falling off a cliff.,
Any sound economist will tell you on the ground, bottom up stimulus is the way to end a severe downturn, not tax cuts to the wealthy,.
The people at the Rally To Restore Sanity were smiling, happy, and having fun. They turned out in big numbers. But on Tuesday, will they vote? For the most part, the higher the voter turnout, the more progressive the result. The message of the Rally, that we are all looking to the same end but with different ideas, can encourage people to stay home.
Anger is a much more effective motivator than passive “oh, well” has ever been. Liberals have, for far too long, allowed themselves to be pushed to the right in search of consensus by those who would have nothing of it.
Whatever successes Tea candidates have on Tuesday will be the result of channeled anger. It doesn’t matter to the Tea voter that their anger is being used by corporate interests to further attack working Americans. Most of them are low-information voters reacting to what their favorite pundits and/or preachers tell them.
And voters should be angry. Angry that corporate money is doing more to select our leaders than sound debate. Angry that even tepid and timid health care reform is made out to be an attack on our very foundation. Angry that Congress did not institute a bigger stimulus with hundreds of thousands of infrastructure jobs. Angry that corporations can send our jobs away and get tax breaks for doing it. Angry that there isn’t more action on renewable energy.
Very likely, Tuesday will see a Republican wave that will overtake the House. What will happen? Even more gridlock, even more disdain of the process. And there may be some very ugly characters representing us in Washington.
Of course there are conservatives of sound mind who only want to do what they think is right. But there are also theocrats not acknowledging separation of church and state. There are also candidates who employ Brownshirt thuggery at events. There are those who would strip away all consumer protections, who would end Social Security, who would toss aside society’s vulnerable. Who would divide us by race. And yes, it’s correct to call them the enemy, for they are the enemies of the freedom they profess to love.
Conservatives who wish the best for the country are being pushed to the edge, and they risk losing themselves in a sea of extremism.
How they react and portray themselves in this election cycle should cause pause. Despotic leaders rise when they are near the levers of power when a crisis gives them opportunity. What if, for example, all stimulus is stopped, spending grinds down when we need it, and we go into economic depression? Or if there is a large successful attack on America? Do you really want the likes of Sharron Angle, Joe Miller, Rand Paul, or Christine O’Donnell in charge of anything?
Yes, we all hope for a country where reasoned debate and civil discourse is the rule. But one side constantly reaching out to the unbending other won’t bring it. To restore sanity we must first address the insane.