IT MAY NOT HAVE CELEBRITIES, BUT IT MAY HAVE MERIT…. A month ago, Glenn Beck hosted an event in Washington drawing about 87,000 supporters, touting a message of … whatever it is Beck and his minions say they care about. About a month from now, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert will host an event in Washington, which should draw at least as many people, in the hopes of “restoring sanity.”
But in between the two gatherings will be another rally, this one hosted by progressive groups that intend to “make the case that they, and not the ascendant right, speak for America’s embattled middle class.”
Predicting a crowd of more than 100,000, some 300 liberal groups — including the N.A.A.C.P., the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the National Council of La Raza and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force — are sponsoring a march on Saturday in the hope of transforming the national conversation so it focuses less on the Tea Party. The groups sponsoring the rally, which is called “One Nation Working Together,” say they hope to supplant what they say is the Tea Party’s divisiveness with a message of unity to promote jobs, justice and education.
“The Tea Party has been getting much more media attention than it deserves, and it’s been saying it represents the voice of middle-class America,” said George Gresham, president of 1199 S.E.I.U., a New York health care union local, who says his union has chartered 500 buses to carry 25,000 union members to the rally. “A lot of us feel we have to get a different voice out there speaking for working people, one respecting the diversity of this country, which the Tea Party does not.”
One of the key problems, at least for me, with Beck’s rally in late August is that it lacked a clear purpose. Attendees like “freedom,” but it wasn’t clear exactly what it was they want. They spoke loud, but said little.
With that in mind, what’s the “One Nation” gathering all about? With a diverse group of liberals, it’s not surprising that the message may appear a little vague. The New York Times put it this way:
Many sponsors say that the rally is not seeking to back President Obama or the Democrats, but rather to hold all of Washington, Democrats and Republicans, accountable for not doing more to fix the nation’s problems. But some sponsors sound unmistakably partisan as they denounce “obstructionism” in the Senate that has blocked larger job-creation programs and other measures. While these sponsors steer clear of mentioning Republicans, their target seems obvious.
I think the NYT gets this very wrong. To take issue with unprecedented legislative obstructionism, which both undermines the effectiveness of the government and kills worthwhile legislation, is not “unmistakably partisan.” It’s just a fact — those who care about effective policymaking should have a problem with what’s become of the painfully dysfunctional Senate.
Nevertheless, here’s hoping “One Nation” turnout is a success. Progressive voices are too often left out and unheard, and a sizable rally on the Mall may help send a larger message that the left still has something to say.
The rally won’t have any celebrities, but it may offer something more important — a message with merit.