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Stewart Rally and Democrat GOTV

Ben Smith reports that Democratic Party leaders are a bit concerned about Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

For one thing, Stewart hasn’t mentioned that labor groups and other institutional Democratic organizations are already planning a big Washington rally to counter Beck: The One America rally on October 2, which has been struggling to get the kind of attention Beck does. And the Stewart rally is also, for Democratic field operatives, at an inconvenient time: Its participants are “not doing GOTV on GOTV weekend” said Matt Ortega, a former DNC staffer, referring to a weekend typically spent knocking on doors and making calls in one’s home district, not Washington.

“Midterm elections are about turnout and as has widely been reported, there is an intensity gap in this election, with the Republican base more motivated than the Democrats’. Some of that gap can be closed with an aggressive ground campaign — we can make up 2-3% in a given race by talking to people at their doors and on their phones,” emails veteran labor Democratic consultant Steve Rosenthal. “I love Jon Stewart — rarely miss the show, but to the extent that some people who will attend his rally would otherwise be involved in GOTV efforts this is not helpful.”

Others, though, say they could leverage the enthusiasm.

Smith also gets this response from The Nation‘s Chris Hayes:

First: It’s hard to imagine lots of democratic politicians showing up to a left equivalent of Glenn Beck’s rally (and I wonder how many will be at the *actual* progressive march on October 2nd), but more than that is puts our current ideological predicament in stark terms. On the right, a large, well-funded, organized, ideologically zealous movement dedicated to a genuinely reactionary vision of America. On the other side? A very gifted satirist calling for everyone to just chill. If I landed here from Mars and took this in and was asked to bet on who’s going to have more political success, it would be a no-brainer.

I’m not so sure about that.  First, I continue to believe that, while the Tea Party movement is animated, it’s not united around any particular agenda, much less “dedicated to a genuinely reactionary vision.”   Second, if Stewart can get a larger crowd than Beck for what amounts to a joke rally, it will send a pretty powerful message about how small Beck’s attraction really is.

Also, isn’t it interesting that Stephen Colbert’s “competing” rally gets no mention at all?

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Kathi Simmons says:

    Jon Stewart is the one person who keeps me sane in all this political garbage.
    It’s good to know there is someone who understands what is really going on.
    I live in Iowa and if I could go to the rally I would.  Maybe it will wake some
    people up and get them to vote.

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  2. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    ” Second, if Stewart can get a larger crowd than Beck for what amounts to a joke rally, it will send a pretty powerful message about how small Beck’s attraction really is.”

    And if he gets a rather small gathering, what will that say?

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  3. James Joyner says:

    And if he gets a rather small gathering, what will that say?

    That it’s easier to get people to watch a TV show than travel to attend a rally about nothing.  It’s a lot easier to get people to show up because they’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

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  4. DMan says:

    “And if he gets a rather small gathering, what will that say?”
    That politics motivates people more than comedy?
    I don’t see this rally being much of an accomplishment if it’s being measured by Beck’s standard.  The reality is people are motivated by people offering hope and change (see Obama, election).  Beck’s rally was successful because it tapped into that.  Stewart’s rally is nothing more than a comedy show, and will mostly motivate people for entertainment purposes, which is not likely to be as successful as a rally which offers hope for change.
    That being said, I would much prefer to see Stewart’s rally, though I’m not likely to do so.

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  5. DMan says:

    or what James said.

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  6. DC Loser says:

    “A rally about nothing?”  Since when did Seinfeld sign on to this?

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  7. john personna says:

    That it’s easier to get people to watch a TV show than travel to attend a rally about nothing.

    Nothing?  Weren’t all those quotes trying to convince us it was a left-Democratic rally?

    To the extent that it is an attempt at a rally from the center, it would be fair to treat it on those terms.

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  8. DC Loser says:

    I’m not one for political rallies, but I’ll definitely make an effort to go just to see what happens.

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  9. JKB says:

    And if they leave the Mall trashed or their is a need for police action, what will that say?
     
    I found it hilarious that Stewart did a bit on Monday night about getting emails from people wanting him to provide them a ride to the rally.
     
    Even these story snippets demonstrate that those hoping to attend are not those described on the website:

    “Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority.

    Let’s face it, if you were going to work GOTV, you are probably the type to attend rallies all year long.

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  10. john personna says:

    lol, JKB, you sound like a writer for a “keep the fear alive” rally!

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  11. Steve Plunk says:

    This is a joke.  It’s humor.  Does anyone really expect a turnout?
     
    Both Stewart and Colbert are comedians, not political operatives or organizers.  It’s no different than watching a sitcom or cartoons.

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  12. floyd says:

    Jon Stewart represents all that is wrong with political discourse in this country.
     What started ,ostensibly, as a comedy show of sophisticated political humor, rapidly degenerated to a level insulting to the intelligence of a smartassed playground bully. Aimed at an audience incapable of critical thought,his popularity is predicated on a vicarious bloodlust for childish platitudes,full of sniggering nonsense, like a mean-spirited PeeWee Herman Show. 

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  13. john personna says:

    As I said when Daily Show hit its stride, there was an element of ‘truths only comedians can tell.’
     
    It’s really sad that it is generally the repressive regimes that need that outlet.  We don’t have that, but we have had MSM group-think, especially early in the Iraq cycle.
     
    This rally is still set in opposition to the MSM group-think, isn’t it?

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  14. Neil Hudelson says:

    I’ll be out in Richmond Virginia for a job interview that Friday, so it looks like I’ll be able to swing by the ‘rally’ and see what its like.  From what I’ve read, organizers are expecting about 25,000 people.  Far short of Beck’s, but not bad for what (I’m guessing) will be a free comedy show dressed up like a rally.
     
    I don’t think it will come anywhere close to Beck’s rally, but I don’t think that was the goal.  Perhaps I’m wrong, but I”ve been reading this whole project as a “Because it’s fun, so why shouldn’t we do it?” type of deal, rather than an event to make any sort of political statement.

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  15. Brummagem Joe says:

     “it’s not united around any particular agenda, much less “dedicated to a genuinely reactionary vision.”

    Really? I’d say most informed people could list the top six or eight priority issues of the tea party crowd. I won’t bore you with it Jim because you already know what they are just as well as I do. I don’t say they are coherent but there’s no doubt about what they are or that they are generally speaking reactionary in tenor. 

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  16. James Joyner says:

    I’d say most informed people could list the top six or eight priority issues of the tea party crowd.

    Aside from vague notions of lower taxes and less spending, I’m not sure there’s a coherent agenda.  Maybe illegal immigration, although I’m not sure that’s universal.

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  17. sam says:

    This is a joke. It’s humor. Does anyone really expect a turnout?

    Both Stewart and Colbert are comedians, not political operatives or organizers.
     

    And in this they differ from Limbaugh and Beck how?

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  18. Steve Plunk says:

    Ha ha.  Now sam’s a comedian.

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  19. Mithras says:

    I think this event will draw over 100,000 attendees. Politics, or at least political campaigns, are entertainment, and Stewart/Colbert are up there with the best political entertainers in the country, surely the best liberal political entertainers out there. We’re organizing charter buses to go to the event from Philly. The plan is to recruit attendees to roll right into GOTV events over the following three days.

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