Stewart’s Rally went beyond party lines

Originally published November 5, 2010

Obama is destroying America.

The Tea Party is a radical group of angry white people.

Theses mantras have been heard countless times, leading up to the midterm election that wasn’t as good for the Republicans and wasn’t as bad for the Democrats as some were touting.

The weeks and months leading up to the election were filled with so much anger, so much hate and so much perversity that it more closely resembled political pulp fiction than the highly optimistic view Obama had in 2008 and “The West Wing” showed on NBC for seven years.

In a time of fear mongering on both sides, I have wanted to open my window and yell “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Of course, that’s what most people are expressing when they vote, and angry decisions are rarely good decisions.

One man has risen above the chatter and no he’s not a politician.

He’s Jon Stewart.

People seem eager to condemn a performer when they reach out from their medium and address real issues. Bono has been ostracized for that and so was John Lennon.

While Stewart may not be as loud as Bono or as gifted as Lennon, he has seeped out of the entertainment industry and tackling issues since he took over “The Daily Show” in 1999 during the end of the Clinton administration, the electoral disaster of the 2000 Presidential Election and the ridiculous mess of the George W. Bush administration.

Stewart and his conservative sidekick Stephen Colbert, who even out of character is a conservative and religious man, held the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear this past Saturday.

In front of 250,000 people, compared to the Glenn Beck rally that drew 85,000, Stewart, Colbert and many performers staged music acts and comedy bits which included Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and R2-D2 teaching lessons of tolerance.

At the end of the rally, Stewart stood alone on the stage and in what may have been his awkward shtick or a real nervousness in what he was about to do, Stewart gave a speech filled with comedy and more truth than any speech giving by a politician in years.

“We live in hard times, not end time,” Stewart said.

That simple message echoed over all in attendance with a reassurance that now someone is willing to recognize the fact that, even though times are rough, there is no need for hate, yelling and mudslinging wars.

The 24-hour news cycle that now has channels catering to liberals, MSNBC, and conservatives, FOX News, pundits on both sides spend their day yelling at each other.

“If we amplify everything, we hear nothing,” Stewart said.

What he pointed out was the fact that every day, even on this campus, we work together to better ourselves and others. Democrats, Republicans, WASPs, Irish, African Americans, Native Americans, Asians, Latinos, Asians, Catholics, Muslim, Protestants, we work together on school projects, play basketball together, study together and party together.

Politics may never be as non-combative as we are on the Hilltop, but just because the politicians and pundits quibble and rant with each other over sayings and speeches, but Stewart, with his comedic shtick that has shifted from Bush to Obama, has done his best to keep them all honest.

After the rally, I got the sense that Stewart would  rather mend the political fences between us than milk the battle between parties for his television show.

We need not worry, though; the partisan arguments  will ratchet back up as soon as the dust from the midterm settles. 

But for the 250,000 in attendance and the millions watching, the future did look brighter than usual for one brief and hilarious moment.