Democracy Inaction?


After taking  a brief, unscentific poll (my brother-in-law and a top spokesman for a leading trade group) I have confirmation of what I considered a singular, glaring omission in last week’s Comedy Central rally on the Mall. As political theater, it was arguably more” theater” than “political”, with Jon Stewart, asking more than once with more “serious” than “mock” inflection, what he was doing there. Actually he was there to entertain and make a point, which he said he did with the size of the crowd. OK, but that was aiming low.

One thing that should have been straight out of Stewart’s mock civics text book was a reminder to his audience of how important it was for them to vote three days later in the midterm election.

Father Guido Sarducci (Don Novello), who delivered the invocation by calling on God to send sign–a rainbow or some-a-ting like a dat–when he got to the chosen religion–could have riffed on voting as a way for the audience to send a sign about their chosen candidate.

Colbert could have had the giant Colbert puppet threaten to step on the crowd if they did not vote.

Stewart could have closed the show with John Oliver (as Peter Pan) suggesting that Tinker Bell was doomed unless everyone in the audience put their hands on a voting booth lever and pulled it.

Something. Anything. Nothing?

The crowd was filled with college students, many of whom are likely more motivated to pile in the car for a road trip to the rally than to head to the polls, and whose vote could have been crucial in close races.

In some contest only about half the registered voters bother to cast ballots, a little more in siome, less in others. In a few races the margin is a few hundred or a few thousand votes. That means millions of votes are left uncast. That is insanity.

The race in Virginia’s 11th district, for example, only a silver dollar’s throw across the Potomac, was decided by  a few hundred votes.

Stewart spent his serious moment at the end of the rally chastising the media and the punditry that he and Colbert so skillfully skewer.

Fair enough. There is plenty to bash the media about, though that ground is well-travelled. But he missed a golden opportunity, unless my brother-in-law and I somehow missed it, to tell the crowd that one way they could restore their version of sanity or battle their particular fear was to vote for the candidate that most closely aligned with either.

Seems like that was a missed opportunity, big time. But maybe it’s just me (and my brother-in-law and the other guy).