Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Rally to Restore Something Something

I almost neglected to mention that I attended Jon Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity last weekend. This wasn't for absentmindedness or dawdling -- I deliberately refrained from wasting any time straining to find something worth adding to the thousands of photo albums and post-event reports on Facebook and the professional blogosphere. If you already wanted to know how it went, you probably already have a good idea.

For my part, I had a pretty good time. I couldn't see a goddamn thing and was just barely able to hear, but the outing as a whole was rather fun and I don't regret going.

But I couldn't help being bothered by something when I was there. It was a thrill and a great relief to see the putative "Million Moderate March" come to fruition (the turnout was higher than anyone -- even the organizers -- anticipated), but something about the scene made me uneasy. I had a difficult time putting my finger on it, until star political cartoonist Signe Wilkinson brilliantly illustrated the matter herself:

Yeah -- Tea Party is a bunch of frothing, anti-intellectual, latently racist, and easily-manipulated dolts who want to drag the United States back to the 18th Century while China, India, and Brazil go full steam into the 21st. But at least they're taking their shit seriously. We're playing for fun, while they're in it to win it.

First, from Gallup:

Next, from the Center For American Progress Action Fund:

Forty-one percent of voters in this election said they were conservatives. That’s quite a bit higher than in recent elections. Only 34 percent of voters said they were conservatives in 2008, and just 32 percent in 2006. Even in 1994, only 37 percent of voters were conservatives.

The high conservative turnout came at the expense of moderates. This group was actually smaller than conservatives as a proportion of voters in 2010—39 percent compared to 41 percent. By comparison, moderates were 44 percent of voters in 2008 and they were 47 percent of voters in 2006. And in the 1988-2004 period, the percent of moderates never dropped below 45 percent.

Thanks, guys. Way to act like the stoned slackers Bill O'Reilly says you are. Enjoy the time warp to 1785 and remember that you could have prevented it.

(Of course, I suppose I am as blameworthy as anyone else. Come 2012, I'll be knocking on doors and dialing numbers instead of wistfully hoping the electorate might provide its own motivation on election day.)


  1. I'd heard someone else bring the difference in moderate voter turnout and theorized that it was a result of being fed up with both parties. Many independents may still not trust the GOP but they aren't enthusiastic about the Dems either, and such races where they couldn't get behind either candidate they just stayed home.

    Take the Nevada senate race for example. Harry Reid likely should have lost that race, except the opposition brought Sharon Angle to the front who was...well...Sharon Angle. I actually heard reports that a significant number of ballots came in where no one voted for the elected officials and only voted on initiatives.

  2. Adam: Doesn't surprise me at all, unfortunately. What does surprise me is that so many independents swung Republican. Did we really expect two years of Obama could repair eight years of Bush? I'm not sure how anyone could argue that it's a better idea to empower the clique that got us into this mess to begin with -- that generally appears to favor (at least from my insignificant perspective) the rights of businesses to the rights of people, the small minority of the rich over the overwhelmingly disproportionate "everyone else," who scream about taxes but vigorously support two foreign wars, etc. etc....

    J: True. But at least they aren't mobilized, and we aren't seeing "imagine a society with like no money man whoooaahh and like no wars ever" candidates being taken seriously.

    The thing I revile so much about the Tea Party crowd -- at least the ones I've seen and met -- is the aggressive ignorance that characterizes them. I disagree with William Buckley's message, but can grant that he is very intelligent and makes many good points in his arguments and has a well-grounded perspective. What we have now is a powerful movement that resents intellectualism, takes pride in their own ignorance, is absolutely closed to any readings of history beyond their own, and rallies around meaningless gibberish like "LEGALIZE THE CONSTITUTION." And it scares the hell out of me.

    That much you already guessed. At the same time, I also can't help but be a little concerned at how a dark horse presidential candidate can win an election by trumpeting a message as vacuous as "CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN," and that people actually fancied that electing him to public office would instantly solve all America's problems.

    POINT IS, I think one should have to take a basic civics and history test in order to vote. You need to pass tests in order to drive, own a gun, or participate in any other activity or institution which demands responsible thinking -- why should choosing our nation's leaders be any exception?

  3. <-- extremist who's views don't appear on the left-right political spectrum.

    I voted on Tuesday, but only in a single race with an independent who had no chance of winning. Why? I liked his website. It was hilarious. I assume he had my dad make it for him using Frontpage 98. From what I could tell he was a socialist of some kind. He was for some vague "unity" thing. It didn't matter anyway, he was running against a typical Democrat and typical Republican...there's no meaningful difference between the two for me. And a state representative can be batshit insane and still unable to do much damage.

    The "Tea Party movement" has two principal components. The Palins and the Pauls.

    The former think, "The country of Africa should something something--Obama's a secret muslim," which is to say they don't think at all. They're the usual dimwits who believe the Republicans really want "small government" and all that stuff whenever the Democrats are in power, and cheer on their "Unitary Executive" who should be an omnipotent dictator whenever the Republicans are in.

    The latter have plenty of kooks, and plenty of idiots who will support the Republicans, who kick them to the curb everytime they get into power again, but some have in fact read books.

    The point is the Tea Party is just business as usual and the country will continue sputterring along as it has been. Check out the new "Pledge with America" (or whatever they're calling it this time) the same vapid, vague nonsense the Republicans always spout. Nothing will change.