John Stewart's 'Million Moderate March' was Not Very Moderate

After years of ignoring the craziness of the anti-war left during the Bush administration, comedian Jon Stewart recently announced that current political rhetoric has become too “angry” and “insane.” It's rather convenient since America's anger has been directed toward liberal politicians and elites.

In response to this alleged political divisiveness, Stewart held a “Rally to Restore Sanity” at the National Mall on Saturday. Many media publications billed the event as a gathering of “moderates” who have grown tired of the angry rhetoric from the “extremists” on both sides of the political spectrum. The rally was even referred to as a “Million Moderate March.”

“The Saturday rally in the nation's capital headlined by popular political satirists Stewart and Stephen Colbert encouraged some participants to think that civility and moderation in politics have a future,” reported USA Today on Nov. 1. “Stewart and Colbert say their 'Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear' wasn't about politics. They say it was designed to promote civility in political dialogue and ease the shrill tone that has dominated this fall's races.” (Please see the pictures of the “civility and moderation” at the end of this article.)

The Baltimore Sun wrote that the rally was “an attempt to provide a forum to the millions of moderates whose voices, [Stewart] said, were getting drowned out by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum.”

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the message of the rally was that, “No matter what happens in this election, lots of people want to be reasonable.”

The Inquirer quoted attendees as saying, “I've never been in a crowd so big – and yet so intent on listening,” “Everyone was polite,” “It was a bunch of moderates on the Mall,” and “Everybody seemed very much in the spirit. I hardly heard a negative word. Almost all the signs were about this theme of moderation.”

But these media accounts conflict with what CMI experienced at the actual rally. The crowd at the event appeared to be highly political and divisive – and almost exclusively liberal.

Many of the protest signs mocked the Tea Party movement, the Fox News Channel, or conservative politicians.

Some examples:

“I Screwed You All. But Thanks for Blaming it On the Black Guy.” (With a picture of President Bush).

“Tea Bagging is for the Bedroom, Not the Ballot Box”

“Keep Fear Alive, Vote Republican”

“Hey Tea-Tards, We Want Our Country Forward!”

“I Masturbate to Christine O'Donnell!”

“Tea Baggers Leave a Bad Taste in My Mouth.”

“We could not agree on a sign that combined the terms 'tea party', 'moran' (sic) [sic] and 'sanity'!”

“I Prefer Facts, Nuance, and Intellectual Debate. So I'm Probably Not a 'Real' American.”

“Insanity + Calm = NPR. Insanity + Fear = Fox News Channel.”

“Tea Bagging Takes Balls” (with a picture of Glenn Beck with tea bags on his crotch, next to a picture of Sarah Palin winking)

“Beck You're #1” (next to a drawing of a middle finger).

Other signs plainly supported liberal policies:

“Single Payer Access Now for Everyone”

“Freak = US Health System. Sane = Single Payer for All”

“Bring Our Troops And Our War Dollars Home Now!”

“Liberals Are Appealing” (Held by someone dressed as a banana)

“Bagram = Guantanamo. Shut Them Down”

“Yea, Obama. Stand By Obama! Our Man!”

A video of the rally filmed by ReasonTV also highlighted the liberal political views of many of the attendees.

“To be honest, how can you not add to the debt when everything's this bad? Every day we have to spend money as a country, so that's just continuing the debt,” one rally participant told ReasonTV. “If you're that bad in debt, I mean, if I was that bad in debt, the only way I'd get myself out of debt is to make more debt first, and then try to figure my stuff out.”

Another participant told ReasonTV that “You don't see reasonable people putting Hitler mustaches on people's faces!” before adding that “if there should have been a Hitler sign on somebody, it would have been [President Bush].”

Many of the rally attendees were bused in by left-leaning organizations like the Huffington Post. Plenty of liberal groups were also in attendance, including the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, the Human Rights Campaign, and GOTV – a group that organizes voters mainly on behalf of Democrats.

It's hard to see how media organizations could still refer to an event like this as “moderate” – unless they are completely distorting the term's proper meaning.

“This is how words, and then ideas, vanish from our political lexicon,” wrote Anne Applebaum in the Washington Post on Oct. 26.  “Whatever connotations it once had, the word 'moderate' has now come to mean 'liberal' or even 'left-wing' in American politics.”


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