I will admit to being fascinated by the rally organized today in Washington DC, by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I did not go, but watched some of it live, streamed onto my PC. I also followed comments from friends I know who were there and were full of ‘amazement’, and good humour, but totally unsure of what the event was all about. I also spoke to some people who went and had a good time. I also saw the Mall absolutely packed with people having a chance to be entertained on a beautiful Fall afternoon. It was a live show by two comics, with political satire at its heart, but I think some political reality thrown in.
In a simple sense, it was good for DC with more people using Metro and also a focus on needing to restore the Mall.
The coverage was extensive, and in an age of instant sharing of images and ideas, I will not be surprised if some of these become Internet ‘must see’ or ‘must read’ in the next few days.
But, I have a sneaking suspicion that many things will flow from the rally. One is that, whether intended or not, these two comics will become more than just good late night watching, but take on a more significant role in focusing commentary. I do not see either crossing the divide and becoming totally serious politicians or commentators, but politicians are aware of the mass appeal of TV celebrities. But, in the same way that the last presidential election galvanized a group of electors who had been missing as voters for too long, the rally may galvanize that same group and others to be more interested in the politics of moderate and thoughtful, rather than, visceral opposition. I also have some concern, just based on mere observation, that the claim that those animated by the rally was a good cross-section of America. I think it was less representative than it could have been to make the previous claim, and I go back to thinking about what it is that keeps groups of Americans who have many similar views from gathering together.