Majority must reclaim center stage

September 26, 2010


Perhaps now, the rest of us will have our say.

If there is an overriding hope for the Oct. 30 “Rally to Restore Sanity” that “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart is holding in Washington, surely that’s it: a simple prayer that maybe the rest of us will finally be able to get a word in edgewise. The comedian’s rally — a “call to reasonableness” it says on the “Daily Show” website — promises a welcome antidote to the tide of craziness now engulfing this country.

My colleague, cartoonist Jim Morin, did this great animation on The Miami Herald’s website ( Guy sits down with the family dog to watch a little television. Out of the box spews a loud cross-talk of invective, accusation, venom, tirade and diatribe. Dog starts barking at the hateful box. A moment passes. Guy starts barking, too.

It is as succinct a description as you will see of what now passes for political discourse in America. The situation has been vexing for years, but the last two summers, with their birthers and Ground Zero mosques and death panels and town hall shouting matches and guns at rallies and rocks through windows and threats of Quran bonfires and charges of socialism, Nazism, terrorism, and general sense of end-times bacchanal, have been especially disheartening.

Watching cable TV news — often a bad idea — one cannot escape a sense that everybody in America is yelling at everybody else.

But what about the rest of us?

People frame all this as a debate between political extremes, a mud fight between conservatives and liberals. I submit that it is more than that. I submit that because they are louder, more colorful, crazier, angrier, and thus, more entertaining, the fringe elements of American political thought — right, and, increasingly, left — have made themselves irresistible to the 24-hour cable and Internet megaplex which, like a shark, is always swimming in search of its next meal. In response, that megaplex has ceded those denizens of the fringe the center stage and given them a megaphone.

The result has been less a clash between ideologies than a clash between reason and its opposite, between those who are willing and able to talk a thing through, think it through, even argue it through, and those who are unwilling and unable to do so. We’re talking about people who believe what they believe “because” they believe. Their ignorance is bellicose, determined, an act of sheer will, and there is not enough reason in all the world to budge them from it.

So, for example, a large minority of Americans continues to believe the president to be a Kenyan-born Muslim, despite the fact that there is not a shred of evidence to support that dumbbell theory. And they don’t care. When have the fringes ever needed evidence? That’s why they are the fringes.

But what about the rest of us?

What about those of us who are busy raising our kids, paying our bills, living our lives, those of us who have concerns about the future, questions about the economy, maybe even disappointment with the president, but who are able to express those things logically, without reflexively screaming, invoking socialism or calling anyone Hitler? What about those of us who feel living in a civil society requires the ability to talk, compromise and reason, and that those who insist on behaving instead like a classroom full of 5-year-olds deprived of nap time whenever they don’t get their way do not deserve center stage — deserve nothing, in fact, other than a chair facing the corner.

What about the rest of us?

It is Jon Stewart’s contribution to rational national discourse to remember and remind us that we exist. And, that for all the media megaplex has done to confer importance upon the fringes, a large minority is still a minority.

We, the rest of us, are the majority. And maybe it’s time we started acting like it.

— Leonard Pitts Jr., winner of the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary, is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on


independant1 3 years, 6 months ago

"Jon Stewart’s contribution to rational national discourse" - he's a comedian/satirist who recently discovered a bit of balance, that's all.

Pitts - occasionally writes a good one, not this time.


Paul R Getto 3 years, 6 months ago

What goes around comes around, eh? This sounds a lot like Nixon's old 'silent majority.' 70-80% of the public does seem to think the 15% or so who drive the discussions to the extreme left and right are full of it, but it's hard to get involved when one has a job, a family and a life to live while waiting for the nuts, left and right, to settle back toward the middle. Good column, Mr. Pitts. The press is partially to blame, but they are entertainers who sell ads to keep their jobs and their television ratings. Until news shows refuse advertising, we will be in this sad state.


George Lippencott 3 years, 6 months ago

Careful, I too, would like to see a more moderated discourse and have written so many times. However, Mr. Pitts unintentionally I think, raises the very real challenge with that notion. What is moderate?

Many attacks have been lunched in this space against the "tea party" (whatever that is). They represent a vocal minority - is that the large minority he eludes to in his piece? Is attacking them with loaded terms such as "racist" still in the moderate column? I believe that I recall Mr. Pitts doing so. Could that be a failure to live up to one’s own expectations or his definition of acceptable discourse?

Just who decides what is OK and what is not? That is why we have a very clear clause about freedom of speech. Of course it is free speech to call the "tea party" racist but then it may be free speech to question Mr. Obama's efforts to enforce our laws. You do not get to pick and chose based on your own ideology.

I just hope we are careful with this one. Shades of "1984".


Kent Kossoy 3 years, 6 months ago

For a brief moment I thought that this article would be legitimate. Then I saw that it was a joke.. By reading most of the comments, so did most of the readers.. Once again the lame street media doesn't disappoint.


Ray Parker 3 years, 6 months ago

I want Congress working on jobs and the economy, not listening to racist jokes from a second-rate comedian, and not catering to illegal aliens, sodomites, or abortionist quacks.


mr_right_wing 3 years, 6 months ago

Oh no! Glenn Beck had a great big (successful) rally....

(...and no I've never listened to Beck, have no desire to.)

Liberal see, liberal do....we better have our own!

So creative guys....


Kris_H 3 years, 6 months ago

I think he should have said, "the adults must regain center stage." I'm really tired of the tantrum-throwing, name-calling, foot-stomping, selfish screaming children of all ages and political affiliations.

Can we just frikkin' TALK?


BornAgainAmerican 3 years, 6 months ago

Pitts' attempt to portray himself and Jon Stewart as middle of the road and in the majority is laughable. And it gets even better...they now seem to be the banner carriers for the loony left. Obama, Reid and Pelosi are in negative territory and have their own deficits when it comes to political capital. In short, the Dems have nothing to run on. They are relying on liberal columnists and comedians like Jon Stewart to win the day. Stewart's "Call to Reasonableness" will be entertaining and will surely mock Beck's rally in D.C., but there is one BIG difference. Beck's rally served as a rallying point for a grass roots movement growing stronger by the day. Stewart's parody will only serve to entertain and pacify a few of the young and less informed loony leftists who think he's cool.


Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

A. We paid almost $150k last year just federal B. Why is Bill Clinton now doing all the effective stumping for Dems? C. Why does Obama mention Bush every time he opens his mouth? D. I have not one ounce of sympathy nor respect for most Dems (the left wing of the Dem party), any lefty crybabies or this trainwreck of a president

May God Bless.


justoneperson 3 years, 6 months ago

ummm Jon Stewart even claims he's not a journalist. Can someone link this poll? What organization is it from? College students think the show is funny (it is, after all, on Comedy Central?), and I do too.

Stewart has also been known to poke fun at the fact he's won more journalism awards than shows that are supposed to be presenting the news (as opposed to say, inciting fear or misrepresenting information), and he thinks it's sad. It's called "fake news" for a reason, he's making fun of the news organizaitons that claim to be reporting news but are in fact sharing opinions or creating a "discorse" of loud talking heads.

If you've ever watched the show you'd know he makes fun of CNN, FOX, CNBC, etc, as well as politicans from both sides of the aisle. Does he lean left? sure. At this point anyone who is not a social conservative is deemed a liberal.

Now, as to your 47%, again a link to an acutal study? Beyond that, are you meaning the people that have so little money that they don't pay taxes? Really? Pretty sure a low income bracket has existed for years.

As someone above said, you're missing the point about the whole rally. Yelling and screaming, using fear mongering, and personal attacks are not political discourse. It's a joke of sorts becuase he's calling on those not traditionally likely to show up to a rally; the Stewart and Colbert rallys are poking fun at both the recent rally and counter rallys on MLK Day. It's also not a joke because reasonable people are acutally sick and tired of the stuff that passes for journalism, political discourse, etc.

"The empty vessel makes the loudest sound." William Shakesphere


TinkyWinky 3 years, 6 months ago

When the majority speaks with its vote against gay marriage the left discourages the mandates of the majority as tyranny. Whats it going to be mr pitts? Majority rule or progressive tyranny? Its not both!


tomatogrower 3 years, 6 months ago

Then there are those of us who pay plenty of taxes, who are relieved that we can keep our son on our insurance, because those wonderful CEO's who apparently deserve multimillion dollar bonuses have taken decent jobs out of the country. We can't have those poor CEO's suffering, can we? Hard working Americans need to support these guys, and give them a bunch of tax breaks, and they will continue to promise to create new jobs, maybe sometime, when they get around to it.


Scott Morgan 3 years, 6 months ago

What about the rest of us? 47% pay no taxes, college students think Jon Stewart is a newsman, and 2.2 million $ in federal stimulus funds $ to one job ratio in California . On top of this European Socialism is failing, but we use it as a template for reinventing our government.

These are but a few items to think about, and then focus on our massive government health care program which is nothing as advertised floating over us like endless black cloud.

Yes, what about the rest of us?


ctutgo 3 years, 6 months ago

Reasonable people have no one to blame but ourselves. When the fringe started yelling, we went mute. I think most people posting here are missing the point. The point is not your political views, it is how we verbalize them. I am a liberal, but I see many conservative ideals as having merit. The whole point of having two (or more) parties is to never let things go too far in either direction. We need both parties to balance each other out.

Yes, we are a country built on hard work, being responsible for one's self, and freedom from government interference. And yes, we are a country built on Christian values. However, the Christ I know and love tells us to care for those less fortunate. We are also a country who takes care of their own, while knowing that our "own" includes those from all races and religions. Right now, Bin Laden is winning by default. We are tearing each other apart.


Determined 3 years, 6 months ago

I think Pitts is right. There has been some craziness going on in the country. He mentioned a few, but forgot the assault on a black man by SEIU members in St. Louis, attacks on Americans sharing their opinion. Rep. Grayson's personal attacks on people who have different views, possible voter fraud in Missouri's district 40 race, issues being forced on an American public when the majority states it is not wanted, the de-industrialization of the US, the planned rationing of health care.

 Yes, you would think there is a lot of craziness going on.  However, it's only crazy if you are a person with a view from the right.  If you're view is from the left then the plan is working well.

Iam Tired 3 years, 6 months ago

"Guy sits down with the family dog to watch a little television. Out of the box spews a loud cross-talk of invective, accusation, venom, tirade and diatribe. Dog starts barking at the hateful box. A moment passes. Guy starts barking, too."

A similar thing happened to me. I had a stack of Pitt's opinion columns spread out on the floor. The dog defecated on them. Before long I had an urge to do the same thing; unlike the loser in Pitt's cartoon example - I controlled my baser urges.


Tom Shewmon 3 years, 6 months ago

Pitts putting himself up on a self-righteous pedestal.....not surprising. Still amazes me how those like Pitts forget the "craziness" of the W days. The left was unhinged. The far-left was hysterical, and that's a vast understatement. Acceptance by the left that Obama, Pelosi and Reid's "crazy" agenda is being soundly rejected has been absent. Maybe in a month or so Pitts and all of his ilk may be able to all accept what happened to "the rest of us" crowd.

May god bless.


Barclay 3 years, 6 months ago

Hmmm. Pitts is far left of the middle. He should be the last one we would expect to be able to help us identify the "middle majority." "...Comedian Jon Stewart's contribution to rational national discourse..." I remember reading a survey a few years ago. The survey revealed that college students got most of their news from Stewart's Daily Show because they believed it was really a news program. I thought Learnard Pitts Jr. had already graduated from college? Is Pitts really truly serious here or is this an attempt to copy Stewart's satire? A Pulitzer Prize winner endorsing a comedian. Weird. Maybe Stewart will win a seat next to Franken's. Here is a insider tip. Pitts is hip on Stewart only because he likes his politics, not because Stewart will be adding one sentence of "...welcome antidote to the tide of craziness..."


KUprestidigitator 3 years, 6 months ago

47% of the nation doesn't pay federal income tax. Heck yes they want reasonableness and sanity to get want they want. Good article Pitts. Taking the position of being pitiful will convince tax paying people to feel sorry for you. Chritians can't help but take care of the pitiful.


chasmo 3 years, 6 months ago

Thanks Leonard. That was well said. Now let the screaming begin.


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