Tag Archives: stewart

Lessons in losing

Today is another break from Teh Commerz Clawz day. (Though according to my ever-growing page hits, I’m pretty popular when you search for anything regarding Gibbons v. Ogden or FDR’s court packing plan. LOLZ.)

This post has been floating around in my head since before the brutal attempt on Congresswoman Giffords’ life and the resulting discussion surrounding the dangers of overblown political vitriol. So let me preface this by stating that I don’t believe someone as out of touch with reality as Laughner really paid that much attention to politics. Selectively maybe, but the immediate conclusion that political name-calling led to her death is ridiculous. Thankfully some columnists kept their heads while the rest of the media was losing theirs, and it seems discussions about gun control and mental illness are finally springing forward. Ugh.

But back to my point. I’ve been thinking about this idea of bitter, mean-spirited politics since January 1st, actually. Several of my more liberal minded friends started ranting about how life was going to be over in Wisconsin as soon as Scott Walker took office, and were instrumental in calling for his repeal.

First, there’s the bit where Walker can’t just be repealed like he’s an offensive bill, since he’s an actual elected official that won fair and square. Obviously. But that’s not the issue. The issue is the current insistence on combativeness in the political process. (If you need another example, the Republican insistence on a symbolic health care vote should be enough.)

Now I understand that politics create controversy. My opinion is not going to be the opinion of someone on the far right. Or the far left either. And I don’t expect those two people to agree either with me or with each other. That’s what makes democracy work, and theoretically with debate and compromise all those different ideas lead to the best deal for everyone in America. But that’s not what happens anymore.

Instead we end up with the ridiculous amount of name-calling familiar to anyone who even vaguely follows politics. This person is the incarnation of the devil! This person’s policies will make your crops wither and die! That person is a witch! This liberal wants to send all our old people to death camps! That conservative is a Nazi and wants you to march in lock-step for the rest of your life as punishment for having brown hair!

I only made up the second and part of the fifth one.

As soon as the opposing party takes power, suddenly the world is going to end. “Life will never be the same!” the losing party exclaims. “This is the worst thing to happen to our (city, district, state, country) since (last terrible buzz-person) ran everything into the ground! Run for the hills!” They inflame their staunchest members with floods of fund-raising emails. They tell half-truths when they can. They get everyone they can all riled up. And suddenly people actually believe that the President wants death panels. They believe that this person is the incarnation of the Devil or is a witch or a Nazi or a terrorist or whatever the buzz-word of the day is. Not everyone pays enough attention to know better.

This just isn’t on the left or on the right. This isn’t just from the Republicans or Fox News. This comes from Democrats and MSNBC commentators as well.

We’ve forgotten, as a country, how to lose gracefully. We’ve lost our sportsmanship. We’ve lost our ability to shake hands with someone that ran a better campaign than we did and tell them “Good game. There’s always next time.” We’ve somehow misplaced the lessons taught to us when we were young, lessons about not throwing down our ball and stomping away to pout when the game doesn’t go our way.

And we, as people involved and commenting on the political process of the United States of America need to relearn that skill. Maybe, if there’s anything to learn from this truly pointless murder spree, it’s how to lose gracefully again.

Instead of continuing to rant myself (I have to admit this was far less intimidating to talk about before a prominent Congresswoman almost died) I’m going to let one of the only people I still fully trust in politics finish off with a talk of his own.

I give you: Jon Stewart. He says it better than I do anyway.

Arizona Shootings Reaction
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Will the fat lady please sing already?

“The Tea Party has all the earmarks of a fleeting, racist reaction to a black president and a bad economy. According to CBS they are 89% white, middle to upper class, 56% make more than 50K a year and 20% make more than 100K, 59% [are] men and 75% [are] over the age of 45, and clearly do not represent average Americans on any meaningful level. As such, it has no legs and they will burn out like the fad that their party is even with the media keeping them in the spotlight…”–Ryan Adserias (italics are my own).

Those last italics are the reason for this post.

As some of you may know, Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert announced that they will be holding a rally (supposedly dueling rallies) on October 30th. It’s basically a Festivus for the Rest of Us. Stewart’s rally is the “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Colbert’s is to “Keep Fear Alive.”

On first glance, these rallies seem genius. Even if they are merely in response to Glenn Beck’s ridiculous Restoring Honor rally, they seem to be making the point that A) Glenn Beck’s an intolerant jerk, and so are his avid listeners, and B) it’s time to stop letting such a small section of America, and the media, control the political dialogue leading up to the midterm elections. (By the way, have you ever heard so many buzzwords in one speech? It’s like every bad politician fed Beck their worst lines and he recited them for his small section of America. Oh wait…)

GAllup Poll

Gallup Poll Shows Dems and GOP nearly tied

It’s understandable that Stewart and Colbert are so fed up. I think most of us paying attention are. As a journalist, I’m sick of it. The Glenn Becks and hell, the Rachel Maddow’s don’t speak for all of America. According to the latest Gallup generic ballot, America is currently tied on who they’d vote for: Democrats vs. Republicans at 46% and 45% respectively. It’s a pretty even race, all told. Even in Wisconsin, in many races the vote is tied. (Unfortunately, Scott Walker is leading slightly in the Governor’s polls here in Wisconsin. I really hope he lets poor children keep their Badger Care if worse comes to worse and we’re stuck with him.)

But be that as it may, I feel that Stewart and Colbert are out of line with their rallies. Stewart and Colbert don’t speak for all of America any more than Beck does. Even if the rally is looking for the “Busy Minority,” the Busy Minority won’t come. Those people are still going to be busy, and won’t have enough money to make it to DC unless they live in the surrounding area. I know I certainly don’t. The only people that will attend are hardcore liberals and those stupid enough to think Colbert is actually a Republican.

To me, though I may trust Stewart and Colbert more than I do most other media shows period, I feel like they’re reinforcing this trend of giving small movements large amounts of credibility by doing it themselves. By attempting to mock the system, they’re only assisting in it’s growth.

Before you take issue with my calling The Daily Show and Colbert Report media, check out this poll from after Walter Cronkite’s death last year. More people trust him than any other media figure in the country, with a few exceptions.

And so here we are. A upstart far-right movement started on Fox and Friends is taking over the elections in the Northeast, thanks to the media blowing everything out of proportion. I think I speak with the rest of the country in saying, as we did with Palin, “Who is Christine O’Donnell again?” Her finances are a shambles, and oh, she dabbled in Satanic cults. No, I’m serious on this one. Google it if you don’t believe me. And yet she’s the Republican Senate nominee for Delaware.

Thank you, American news media. I really didn’t have anything else to worry about before you empowered this group of radicals by giving them a voice in the first place. Could you all please shut up and teach us about something important for once?

But to me, this is all almost worth it to watch the Republicans squirm over what to do with this new Tea Party media darling.

The whole point of any political campaign is to court as many voters as possible. You want to be left/right enough to court your base, while still reaching out to the center enough to assuage the worries of the center and convince them that you’re the lesser of two evils. For the Dems, this is difficult, but suddenly, the right has something to worry about.

Karl Rove has denounced the Tea Party. He’s certainly more outspoken than others (and Fox isn’t happy about it), but many Republicans are trying to find the line between the appeal of the Tea Party in lower taxes, right to life, no black men in office, etc., without associating themselves with the crazy sides. Like Christine O’Donnell’s witchcraft. Or abolishing the Constitutional Amendment that gives us the right to vote for our senators.

And meanwhile their national polls are slipping, slipping, slipping slowly away. A month ago, Dems were 10 points behind in Gallup’s generic ballot. Now? We’re practically tied. Granted, we’re a month and a half away from the elections. But if this continues? We’ll see.

And this is why I still love politics.

Tune in next week for a dose of LGBT news, including a recent poll on the definition of a family, and the upcoming vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.