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November 03, 2010 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2010-11-03

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Wedesay Nvebe 3 210//Th Satmet B

wasn't as political as others that have
taken place on the National Mall. The
rally wasn't a call for action. Stewart
asked for nothing, telling his audi-
ence, "If you want to know why I'm
here and what I want from you, I can
only assure you this: you have already
given it to me. Your presence was what
I wanted."
Ultimately, Stewart emphasized the
importance of bi-partisanship.
"Most Americans don't live their
lives solely as Democrats, Republi-
cans, liberals or conservatives," he
told the crowd. "Americans live their
lives more as people that are just a lit-
tle bit late for something they have to
do, often something that they do not
want to do, but they do it - impossible
things every day that are only made
possible by the little reasonable com-
promises that we all make."


urday, 422 miles from cam-
pus, Wolverines gathered
on the National Mall in Washing-
ton, D.C. in support of moderacy and
rationality in national politics. Later
reports by CBS News would estimate
the crowd at 215,000, but the amica-
ble atmosphere made the event seem
much smaller. The first time the mass
erupted into cheers, the front section
turned around when their yells sub-
sided. They could hear the reverbera-
tion of people blocks away, who were
so far back that it took longer for sound
to reach them - and at that point we
all knew this was much bigger than we
had anticipated.
Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert's
Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear
illustrates a national desire for mod-
eracy. American politics are afflicted
by a partisan chasm, where those with
different opinions are viewed as ene-
mies, creating a gridlock that makes it
impossible to move forward in discus-
sions of political beliefs. The national
media fuels this divide with pundits,
sorting everyone and anyone into two
distinct categories: liberal and con-
servative. But from John Stewart and
Stephen Colbert's rally in Washington
to students campaigning in Ann Arbor,
there is clearly a movement toward the
middle in American politics.
An impromptu protest near the
Fox News van parked beside the mall

was representative of the animosity
toward the national media. Stewart
and Colbert rolled montages on jum-
bo-screens of the titans of punditry
- including Glenn Beck, Keith Olber-
mannand Bill O'Reilly- makinggross
overstatements and apocalyptic politi-
cal predictions. While the crowd was
armed with signs mocking conserva-
tives like Beck, Sarah Palin and other
Fox News personalities, Colbert was
quick to remind those present of the
liberal media's fixation on disaster by
giving an award to Anderson Cooper's
tight black t-shirt for inciting fear dur-
ing every broadcast.
Though the majority of the rally
echoed the comedy seen on "The Daily
Show" and "The Colbert Report,"
Stewart took the last few minutes
of the rally to highlight the media's
"The country's 24-hour, political
pundit perpetual panic conflictina-
tor did not cause our problems, but
its existence makes solving them that
much harder," he told the crowd. "The
press can hold its magnifying glass up
to our problems, bringing them into
focus, illuminating issues heretofore
unseen. Or they can c"se that magnify-
ing glass to light ants on fire, and then
perhaps host a week of shows on the
dangerous, unexpected flaming ant
"If we amplify everything, we hear
This message incited cheers from
throughout the mall. One supporter

was Public Policy junior Tommy Held,
one of the many University students
who made the trek to hear Colbert and
Stewart's message.
"I've been a long-time fan of Jon
Stewart," Held said while preparing
for his trip to the rally. "This is sort of
the nexus of my interest in politics, my
interest in comedy and satire and sort
of what the rally's all about: toning it
There was a clear University pres-
ence in the diverse crowd. Stewart
noted that the audience was a perfect
sampling of the American popula-
tion, with people of all ages, races and
religions within which an occasion-
al representation of maize and blue
stood out among the mass. A man in
a Michigan baseball cap stood in the
packed crowd a dozen yards away, a
girl donning a Michigan flag as a cape
crossed streets a block away and a man
in a Michigan hoodie passed by on the
metro escalator.
LSA senior Christina Bertrand and
seven of her friends made the trip to
Washington last weekend, but it was
much rougher than they had antici-
pated. Their plans for lodging fell
through, they received only a few
hours of sleep and fought dehydration.
Still, Bertrand insists that "the rally
made everything worth it." And that
positive attitude was seen throughout
the National Mall during Stewart and
Colbert's rally, which was packed, yet
still full of polite and courteous par-

The weather was unexpectedly
warm so a man modified his sign from
a political message to "Does anyone
have any sun block?" and moments
later I was passing a bottle in his direc-
tion. After the rally, the crowd was
tired and hungry, but we made way for
a man with a stroller to leave first. The
lines for hot dog vendors were long
and food was in short supply, but when
I joined the line, the couple in front of
me gently told me there were no pret-
zels or water left.
"I was really happy that everyone at
the rally seemed to be really friendly
and respectful," said LSA junior James
Janisse. "I mean, it was ridiculously
packed. You couldn't even move ...
"he country' S24-hour, pc
pe rpetua l pa ni Cconfl iCtin a
cause our problems, but it'
makes solving them that rr
but no one ever yelled or got mad. If
I stepped on someone's foot, I apolo-
gized and they didn't care. It was such
a good atmosphere justbecause I think
we were all there for the same reason."
Janisse believed so much in Stewart
and Colbert's cause that he actually
organized one of many charter buses
that brought people to the rally. He
had been following the rally before its

announcement when it originated on
the Internet. Members of the social
news website Reddit had requested
that Stewart and Colbert host a rally.
According to Janisse, "They started
a donation to a charity to show them
how serious they were and actu-
ally raised over $200,000, and after
that (Stewart and Colbert) started
the whole 'we're going to have an
announcement' thing."
"I was going to drive down there or
fly down there and then on Reddit I
saw they had a board set up for people
wanting to carpool down there," he
said. "I saw someone had the idea for a
charter bus and I was originally going
to get on that one, but I figured I could
just put my own
lItical The week
before the rally,
tor did not Janisse had
52 people con-
's eXIStence firmed to his
bus, only seven
uch hard er.' of whom he
knew prior to
the rally.
Many students, like Bertrand,
couldn't pass this opportunity up.
"I was just able to go," Bertrand said.
"Some of my friends wanted to and my
parents let me borrow their van to lug
everyone around. I just really wanted
to go because I love John Stewart."
With comedic interludes and musi-
cal guests including Kid Rock, Ozzie
Osborne and Yusef Islam, the rally

Stewart and Colbert's rally repre-
sents a trend among voters. Accord-
ing to a September study from the Pew
Research Center, Independents are the
largest group of voters in this election,
claiming 37 percent of registered vot-
ers. This represents one of the largest
groups of Independents in the past 20
years, and is is up from 34 percent two
years ago.
The study also pointed to
the fact that more than
half of current Indepen-
dents used to identify
with a political party at
some point in the past
five years. Twenty-three
percent have identified
as Democrat, 22 percent
as Republican and nine
percent as both.
Recent studies have
also shown a growing
shift in political iden-
tification among young
voters. According to an
October study by the Pew
Research Center, 56 per-
cent of voters under the
age of 30 identify with the
Democratic party, down
from 62 percent in 2008,
while 36 percent identify
as Republican up 6 percent
since 2008.
The rally's effects on the
midterm elections have
been the subject of debate
ever since its announce-
ment. Assistant professor
of organizational stud-
ies and political science
Michael Heaney and
Georgetown doctoral
candidate in government
Andrea Mayer surveyed
325 people from the

crowd to find that 46 percent of rally
attendees believe the rally affected
yesterday's election. However, the
fact that the rally wasn't organized
by a political party could have a large
impact on whether or not the moderate
voices were heard.
"It depends on if Washington
acknowledges that it happened and
acknowledges the point of it, which
I'm really not sure if they will or not
because it's Washington," Janisse
said of the rally's impact on the elec-
tions. "If they do, I think that it shows
that there are a lot of people out there
who are more in the middle and less
Ann Arbor and the University have
long fallen under the media's leftist
label. Lecture halls are littered with
students in their College Democrats
t-shirts, students patrol the corners of
the Diag armed with petitions urging
sustainable and green practices and
an annual protest of marijuana laws is
celebrated as a campus-wide holiday.
But when you dig a little deeper, you'll
find that we're not living in the hotbed
of liberal activity we think we are.
"I would say people tend to think of
the Michigan campus as very liberal,
and the majority is liberal, but I defi-
nitely think there's more moderates
than you think. My friends are moder-
ate and a lot of them are thinkingabout
probably voting for Snyder," Held said
before yesterday's election.
Bertrand also doesn't believe the
campus is as liberal as often depicted.
"I think we're about 60-40," she
said. "I don't think it's as bad as most
people think."
The College Republicans is the most
visible group of conservative students
on campus. The group, which has been
active since 1892, lobbies for conser-
vative interests and campaigns for
Republican candidates. The group's
membership alone serves as a testa-
ment to the large conservative popula-
tion on campus.
"We have over 2,000 people on our
listserv and we have a group of, I'd say
about 150 that show up regularly at
meetings," said LSA sophomore and
College Republicans Vice Chair Brian
Koziara. "So it's a fairly large group.
Depending on who we bring in as a
speaker, the numbers will be higher or
lower, but we do have a very active and
engaged core."
Rick Snyder's successful campaign
has certainly challenged the idea of
Ann Arbor's liberal foundation. An
Ann Arbor native and University alum,
the Governor elect garnered 50.51 per-
cent of the vote in Washtenaw county
as of 11:53 'p.m. Tuesday night with
43.75 percent of the precincts counted,
This support for a Republican
candidate is recently unprec-
edented in a county where 70
percent of its residents voted
for Barack Obama in the
2008 presidential election

and 68 percent voted for Governor
Jennifer Granholm in 2006.
Similarly, United States Rep. John
Dingell (D-Mich.) has faced a tough-
er campaign than in recent election
cycles. After garnering 87.80 percent
of the Washtenaw county vote in 2006
and 73.48 percent in 2008, Dingell
received just 65.7 percent of Washt-
enaw county's vote as of 11:53 p.m.
Tuesday night with 43.75 percent of
the precincts counted.
Koziara attributes these figures to
a shifting mentality about economic
"I do think that the conservative
fiscal message has won. I think that's
the reason Ann Arbor is trending away
from its previously blue roots," Kozi-
ara said. "I think a lot of people are
starting to wake up and realize that
this election is all about the economic
issues, the fiscal issues, and I think
that even Democrats in Ann Arbor can
agree with that."
Furthermore, these historically
left-leaning numbers aren't necessar-
ily a characteristic of the student body,
many of whom vote absentee. In fact,
Held believes it's not the students who
are liberals so much as the city's year-
long residents.
"I'm actually from Ann Arbor. I
went to Pioneer so I've seen local elec-
tions for a while now," he said. "So I
would say the people in the city, the
townies, who actually vote ... on the
whole, vote Democratic."
And while the media and cam-
paign ads can sometimes make gross
exaggerations about the state of poli-
tics, many students on campus have a
healthy amount of hope for the future.
"We got kind of lucky," Janisse said
of the gubernatorial race. "Either way,
whoever wins, it's not going to be hor-
The numbers certainly show a
recent shift to the center, and it's clear
the student body doesn't disregard
the conservative population. When


"Daily Show" host
Jon Stewart; "The
Colbert Report"
host Stephen
Colbert; Colbert
standing in front
of a large puppet
of himself; rally
attendees finish
their signs; some
of the 215,000 at
the rally on Sat-

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