The best political organizers in America who aren’t getting Koch money happen to be Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Lady Gaga. We’ll get to the first two in a minute, but if you’re not familiar with Gaga’s work on Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, you should pay attention. Thousands of kids have called their representatives, and many have posted YouTubes showing them calling their Senators and asking if they’ll support the legislative repeal as part of the defense authorization bill. I saw one yesterday with a kid calling Scott Brown, whose eyes bugged out of his head when he heard the staffer on the other line tell him that the Senator opposed repeal. As Gaga says in this message, “I’m here to be a voice of my generation, not the generation of the people voting, but the youth of this country.” And a substantial segment of them are on fire over this. It’s visceral and formative and they’re not going to forget.
As for Stewart and Colbert, the “Rally to Restore Sanity” is a little too high-Broderist for my taste, but it’s best seen as the straight man to Colbert’s “March to Keep Fear Alive.” I saw a lot of my progressive colleagues fret about the timing of the rally, on GOTV weekend. That’s really not their concern, nor should it be. These two have no loyalty toward a political party or cause, and basically want to make people laugh by showing up those in the culture they feel are toxifying it. I don’t know that they’ll succeed, mainly because the biggest rallies have buses and hotel deals and they basically subsidize the activism.
It doesn’t matter to me how these things are “covered” in the media. In a fractured culture, big personalities with big megaphones are really the only ones able at this point to reach large masses of people. They have their own ideas and their own particular message and by and large, they aren’t hacks interested in delivering particular voters for particular candidates. But they’re about 1,000 times more effective at this moment in history than the ones who do.
UPDATE: I’ve been correctly advised that the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network is behind the Gaga organizing, and they’re doing a great job with that. It won’t work with every issue, but she’s really captured something here.