By Pranav Sehgal
Recently, the U.S. political system has been in disarray: Democrats fight with Republicans, Democrats fight within their party and radical Republicans have also caused divisions in their own party.
With television stations like Fox, MSNBC and Comedy Central, the media has heightened these tensions between Democrats and Republicans to an extent never seen before. The hostility between these two parties has grown so much that conciliation and compromise between them is infrequent and unlikely.
These political tensions have spewed over to the social structure of American society. TV shows like “Glenn Beck” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” have polarized American society, with a great deal of conservatives watching TV shows centered on the right like “The O’Reilly Factor,” while liberals tend to watch programs like “The Colbert Report” and “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”
In order to quell the recent upheaval of political tensions that have led to such divisive policies and relations, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert hosted the “Rally to Restore Sanity” in Washington, D.C., hoping to restore fractured relationships between party lines and between voters of the respective parties.
Stewart and Colbert, selected as candidates in Time Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” poll, tried to downplay any political intent, as did the supporters, saying that their reason for supporting the rally stemmed from the fact that they wanted to promote a more “common-sense” politics.
Many rally participants agreed that politicians, members of the media and citizens must all “take it down a notch” in terms of political rhetoric. Numerically, the event proved widely successful with an attendance estimated to be well over 200,000. Glenn Beck’s “Rally to Restore Honor” was only estimated to have an audience of between 78,000 and 96,000. The Huffington Post also chipped in by hiring a fleet of 200 buses to shuttle people from New York to Washington, D.C.
Although the creators of “The Rally to Restore Sanity” intended to be apolitical, there is no doubt that a great number of participants were in fact liberal and tended to side more with Democrats. When figures like President Obama and Oprah, an ardent Democratic supporter, endorse this event, there is no hiding the fact that this event is indeed political.
As this year’s midterm election have come to a close, Republicans have gained more ground in congress with 239 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them a majority, and 46 seats in the Senate compared to the Democrats who have 52. It seems as if voter resentment has grown because of the lack of progress the economy is making and the prevalence of unemployment that still exists among Americans.
This brings me to the following questions: did “The Rally to Restore Sanity” in fact restore sanity to our political system, and to what extent was this rally effective in promoting “sanity”? Although many would argue the intentions of this event were to lessen tensions between parties and their constituents, this ideal may no longer stand. The Republican majority in Congress will likely widen the divide between parties and make it more difficult for progressive legislation to be passed. Democrats may have lost their chance to push their policies due to ineffectiveness and infighting, while Republicans are steadily gaining more ground. The only certain thing is that with difference comes divisiveness, which is the last thing our country needs.