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Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Pied Piper of the Future
Posted by Jill | 3:46 PM

Competing by relative headcounts at rallies seems to me to be a bit like the people who used to fight with each other over the relative box office of Star Wars vs. Titanic. What the hell difference does it make? You're not getting the money anyway.

From where I was watching comfortably at home, a rally that spills over off the National Mall and into the streets, where a wave takes almost a full minute to make its way through the crowd (courtesy of the Mythbusters), is one hell of a lot of people -- not that you'll get any crowd estimates from the media pundits that Jon Stewart ended the rally today by blasting in a speech that is sure to revive the Stewart/Colbert 2012 bumper stickers once again. The Murdoch St. Journal has pretty much refused to do so at all:
How many people are on the National Mall for Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert? The final answer? We don’t know.

CBC News, being outside the US, doesn't have the same qualms as the US press, and estimates the crowd at over 200,000.

I'm sure in days to come we'll see dueling aerial shots as the Who Got More Glenn Beck Or Jon Stewart debate plays out amidst the same cable news blather that was the subject of more than one photo montage today. Relative crowd counts for the two rallies are important to the extent that the Tea Party has been treated as a huge majority of Americans by the press, receiving attention far in excess of its actual numbers. Christine O'Donnell is likely to lose, but you'd never know it from the press attention she's received.

Here's what DOES matter about the comparative crowds, however.


While attendees at both rallies skewed predominantly white, many of the Beck rally's attendees were older, a good number of them on Hoveround-type scooters. Today's rallygoers skewed far younger, for all that our very own jurassicpork, who is no spring chicken, attended (and hopefully can be talked into writing a report, including photos), today's rally represented the future, while Beck's rally represents the past -- some of which never even existed the way it was remembered.

I said to Mr. Brilliant this morning that Jon Stewart would walk away today either having jumped the shark, or as the most important man in the country.

Was there ever any doubt that it would be the latter?


Whatever happens next Tuesday, think about the young faces you saw in the crowd shots from Washington DC today. The people on the Hoverounds who watch Glenn Beck and believe that Barack Obama must be a secret Muslim terrorist because he has a name that isn't English...or Irish...or Italian...or Polish; who still don't want black people moving into their neighborhoods, who are grossed out by two guys kissing because they're not used to seeing it, and who think that this is Jesus' America and long for the 1950's? Their day is over and a new one is ahead of us. They know it, and that's why they're so afraid. What we know, and what they don't yet, is that there's nothing about that new one that they should fear.

I know that there are young teabaggers, like the young Joe Miller supporter Rachel Maddow talked to in Alaska the other night who hates Obama for nominating Eric Holder, who will to take people's guns away -- but can't identify one thing Holder has done or said about guns. But the National Mall and surrounding streets were teeming with fresh young faces; yes, mostly Causasian ones, but sprinkled with black and Latino and Asian ones too. They get it. That they are this nation's future gives me at least some hope that we just might be able to survive the dying embers of hatred, greed, and bigotry.

And whether he likes it or not, whether he realizes it yet or not, a short Jewish comedian from Jersey is going to lead them.

(UPDATE: Chris Good of The Atlantic says "The immediate takeaway: The crowd was massive. Way bigger than the Glenn Beck rally in July." Of course in the alternative universe of the Teabaggers, Chris Good is a subversive liberal commie anti-American traitor for even suggesting such a thing.)

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Blogger Barry said...
I have to admit, I thought Stewart's closing speech was great, and I found myself in agreement with every syllable. Makes me wonder we were listening to the same speech? ;-)

Anonymous David said...
You know, I'm not entirely sure about the age theory you're positing. I'm the father of a 15 year old girl and I monitor her Facebook usage regularly. You will not believe how heavily the majority of her peers seem to skew to the right. And not just 'skew to the right' but actively deride and aim hostility at the left. I think we're faced with an extremely conservative new generation across a large chunk of America. They're too caught up in football, cheerleading, videogames and general apathy to actually be as visible as the more socially involved leftie kids but they're there. In very very VERY large numbers. I caught my daughter looking at this Facebook group that has more than a million fans that goes 'this year you took my favorite actress Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer Michael Jackson and my favorite actor Patrick Swayze. God, my favorite president is Barack Obama'. It's spinechilling. A large number of her friends were fans of the group which is why she was checking it out. And I took a look at the group later and it all seems to be young people on there to me.

I think it's a mistake to think that conservatives are older. They're indoctrinating their kids in the same old rightwing nonsense they grew up in, while deadening their intellect with the most awful rituals of adolescence they can think of. All that cheerleading, thousands of dollars spent on proms, sorority, homecoming weekend, spirit week nonsense. Actual reading/writing/arithmetic has taken a backseat in our schools.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
CBS News, which commissioned the same firm to do crowd size approximation for both rallies, lists Stewart/Colbert at approximately 215,000, and Beck at approximately 87,000. Whether those are accurate or not in an absolute sense is less important than the fact that the same methodology, used by the same people, shows well over twice as many yesterday as there were for the Crybaby.

Anonymous Charlie O said...
I was there. I have to disagree that the crowd was predominantly young. It was kinda sorta white, but the age demographic was all over the place. I'm 51, my ex-wife who was with me, is 44. I saw thousands just like me. The crowd at the bar at my hotel after the rally was definitely 45ish to 50-something. The crowd was clever and snarky, but fun and cooperative. Certainly no Tea bagger atmosphere of hate and anger. And the crowd size compared to Beck's prayer meeting is no brainer (but then that's the problem with that crowd, no brains). I took a second look at aerial photos of the Beck rally just today. The crowd for Sanity rally far, far exceeded the prayer meeting. And it's true, the side streets around the Mall were teeming with people. And most of all, these people had a much better sense of humor, and could spell gooder. :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...
david, take heart, i was brought up to be conservative by parents who campaigned actively for Barry Goldwater, and i still ended up a diehard liberal democrat, and at the rally Saturday with jurassicpork. there is hope for your daughter and her friends.
mrs. jp

Blogger jurassicpork said...
We were lucky the Teabaggers decided to spend the day in their parents' basements. If they'd shown up in full force, the rally might've swelled to 216,000.

I saw a pretty good cross-section in age at the rally. I saw little kids there with their parents and people old enough to be my parents, including on skeletal old dude who was railing on and on about Obama's and Bush's drone strikes in the Middle East and Asia.

All in all, it was a pretty laid-back affair and I feel a little silly for my hypervigilance. I don't think I saw a single Tea Bagger there.

Blogger Distributorcap said...
BUT they had sarah palin - and she is worht at least a bump of 1 million in the crowd-o-meter

there could have been 40 million people there - fox - which is the PRIMO news organizationin this country - primo meaning all others defer to it -- said it didnt count, so it doesnt