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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

REDDIN: Can we spark change without having to spark riots?

Now don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure the “Rally to Restore Sanity” is the only protest ever designed where the angry, shouting people are the enemy.

If you’ve been exposed to a television, the Internet or a rabid Comedy Central fan lately, then you know that this Saturday will mark “The Daily Show” host Jon Stewart’s quasi-political rally held on the Washington Mall in D.C., alongside a “counter-rally,” the “March to Keep Fear Alive,” hosted by satirical “rival” Stephen Colbert. Hailed as a response to political extremists such as Tea Partiers, the rally is designed for “people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive and bad for your throat.”

It’s an idea I can’t help but sympathize with. Regardless of whether you think Republicans and/or Tea Partiers are right to oppose the current administration, it’s hard to argue that any number of factions screaming at each other can benefit the everyday citizen, especially when some of those screaming faces are attached to arms holding signs that compare our sitting president to Adolf Hitler. Or Heath Ledger’s Joker, because really, people, it’s too soon.

But there’s one thing that really worries me about the “Rally to Restore Sanity.”

It’s not Stewart and Colbert’s credibility. While they may make a living mocking our political system, they’ve stepped into the arena themselves on occasion. Colbert recently testified on behalf of migrant workers to a Congressional subcommittee (albeit mostly in-character), and Stewart’s 2004 appearance on former CNN debate show/travesty “Crossfire,” where he denounced the program and told pundits Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson it was “hurting America,” is widely considered to have been a contributing factor in the show’s cancellation the following year.

And it’s not any concerns about partisanship. Yes, by the nature of Stewart and Colbert’s programming, the audience is going to lean liberal, but Stewart’s gone on record as saying this is meant to be a satirical repudiation of both Glenn Beck’s “Rally to Restore Honor” and Al Sharpton’s counter-rally “Reclaim the Dream,” and I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

I’m worried about what happens on October 31.

Because what is the logical next step after a rally denouncing insanity? Do you organize picnic lunch protests in front of the White House? Drop by your local Tea Party and offer to proofread their protest signs? Call up Sarah Palin and ask her to swing by for a friendly game of checkers?

How do you spark a revolution based on rationality? How do you get the government to care about the common citizen without a megaphone to your mouth and a mob at your back?

And here’s the most frightening question of all: What if the Tea Party is right and Jon Stewart is wrong?

I want to believe that the “Rally to Restore Sanity” will have some lasting effect, and will show Washington and the populist mobs flooding our country that you don’t have to be a radical to want radical change.

But what if you can’t? What if we’ve reached a point where the only way to express political thought in this country is by getting a soapbox and a bunch of angry people to help prop it up?

And, if we’ve reached that point, where can you get poster board and permanent markers in this city?  Because my protest signs are going to be a hell of a lot better than anything the Tea Party can dream up.

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