Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear Will Re-Energize Democrats


Political marketing. Everyone involved in politics makes use of it. Those who are most effective win, maintain, or chip away at power.stephen colbert and jon stewart

Political marketing. Everyone involved in politics makes use of it. Those who are most effective win, maintain, or chip away at power.stephen colbert and jon stewart

Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will lead a joint rally, in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 30, 2010. The event, dubbed “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear”, is being held in the National Mall. That is the same location where Glenn Beck’s Restoring Honor Rally occurred two months ago. Both events underscore the current passion of Democrats, Republicans, and those who find themselves somewhere in-between.

Here is the anticipated Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear schedule, obtained from a National Park Service permit this Wednesday:

There are people who prefer to use terms like progressive, or liberal, when referring to Democrats. Other people choose words like conservative, or Tea Bagger, when referring to Republicans. Those who consider themselves to be Independent haven’t been branded with multiple catchy nicknames, apparently because they reject parts of both major political ideologies.

Beck believes that Stewart and Colbert are trying to help Democrats in the upcoming election. Stewart and Colbert (in his own way) have asserted that Beck is using people to promote his own agenda, as well as that of Republicans. These two sides, representing elements of our political family, surely have benefited from having well known opponents. The audiences of each smartly being drawn into politics through entertainment.

Stephen Colbert’s character, on the Colbert Report, is that of a conservative talk show host. He mocks the Fox News image through his own comedic style. Stewart offers political news, through comedy, as a way to present complex topics in a digestible form. Just as Beck is more than a loud talk show host, these men are far more than court jesters.

Beck’s August rally was noteworthy for a number of reasons, including crowd size. Regardless of whatever anyone chooses to believe about the final numbers, there were a lot of people present at his summer conclave besides Sarah Palin. Politically, we are a very divided country. So, the Stewart-Colbert rally should produce numbers that are at least comparable.

The desire to energize a voting block, in this case just a few days before the mid-term election, is as intentional as Beck’s was. The people behind Beck’s rally may have anticipated this counter-move and are probably hoping that Saturday’s crowd present themselves poorly. Beck’s detractors had also hoped for a rowdy result, but it did not occur.

Beck’s backers, generally perceived as Republican-leaning voters, invoked a passioned response from those who disagreed with their politics. Video, sound, and print images emerging from this upcoming rally may also heighten the blood pressure inside opposing political veins. But, this time there will only be three days to analyze, or counter, the messages produced.

In anticipation of the event, President Obama appeared Wednesday on Comedy Centrals’ Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He became the first sitting President to do so. It will be interesting to see how many Democratic candidates and well known celebrities, make appearances this weekend. Based on the power of numbers, it would seem politically wise to take that face time.

The people who are involved in planning, orchestrating, and delivering spectacles of this magnitude have clear purposes. It is understandable that groups believe in their causes and promote them. While strong supporters of Beck might scoff at Stewart’s and Colbert’s crowd, or their supporters might laugh at Beck’s bunch, the endeavors are very similar.

Political banners have been flown through campaign skies in the past with various degrees of resonance. Though its impact was questionable, the 1964 Lyndon Johnson – Barry Goldwater Presidential campaign produced one of the most famous messages in history. It came in the form of a television advertisement, which was the deepest way to reach the electorate at that time.

Today’s media is rapidly evolving into globally interactive forms. Social networking is transforming politics and has helped to fuel interest in both rallies, as well as in the election. Voters feel that they are having a greater influence than had ever been possible before.

Political marketing often attempts to push emotional buttons. Through use of various strategies, targeted audiences are becoming much stronger mediums of promotion. Word-of-mouth now means texting, social network page sharing, and e-mail message forwarding. Twenty-first century ways that citizens are participating in a pop-culture Democracy.

Both rallies have helped to nationalize this election. It is not just a local candidate against another local candidate. It is a candidate, who is part of a larger group, against another candidate, who is also part of a larger group.

Voters understand that they are being approached in new ways. No longer is a candidate just knocking on your front door, maybe no one even came to your door this year. They understand that people seeking power are trying to make impressions in fresh ways. All that is old is new again.

This interactive media age is offering different ways to participate in the political system. We must continue to learn how to use emerging forms of communication. The importance and equality of our right to vote demands our persistent attention.

Contact Sean O’Brien at

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  1. Kaz,
    Thank you for reading


    Thank you for reading this article and for posting your comments. They are very thoughtful.

    It does certainly seem that the voters, on many sides, want more from Washington.

    For me, “feel” was the key word that I put into the sentence “Voters feel that they are having a greater influence…” Time will tell what types of continuing solutions both parties create in response to the participation of all citizens.

    I do think that being in politics offers complex challenges for all who hold office.

  2. Will Rogers

    I appreciate your Will Rogers reference.  He remains an icon.   Stewart, Colbert, Beck, Limbaugh, and a few others have created current careers for themselves.  With however they are thought of, they have also energized vast numbers of people.  That is something noteworthy.     


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