There’s little debating the power of Stephen Colbert and the Colbert Nation. It has amongst the youngest news audience out there (80% of his viewers are in the coveted 18-49 demographic, according to a recent Pew Poll,) but the bigger story is Colbert’s ability to rally them to support any given cause. Take for instance the fan-advocated goal of raising $100,000 for underfunded school programs. Impossible? Maybe not.
Fans of The Colbert Report set up an online campaign to demand Colbert hold a rally to rival Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” event (which apparently hosted some 50-million strong,) and the project has taken on a life of its own. And even though Colbert has declined to publicly comment on the possibility, the buzz is growing for the reality of this event.
With over 55,000 members on the 100,000 Strong to Restore Truthiness to the US Capital on Facebook, the Reddit-driven campaign at ColbertRally.com decided to up the ante… with cash.
How can you out-do a madman like Glenn Beck? How can you silence a critic like Bill O’Reilly? Only with actions, it seems, and apparently dollars speak much louder than acts.
Bill O’Reilly likes to refer to the audience of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report as a bunch of “stoned slackers.” This isn’t just disingenuous and mean (though it certainly is both of those things in spades,) it is simply untrue. Take as evidence the very real actions of those who don’t need to eat dinner by 4:00pm and be in bed by 8:00pm (and whom advertisers believe have all the jobs, hence the premium paid for this demographic.) Stoned slackers? Who’s the pinhead now?
The Power of Colbert Nation in Action
When Colbert wanted a bridge in Hungary named after him, his fans stuffed the ballot box faster than Ahmadinejad on election night.
When NASA put out an open call to name Node 3 on the International Space Station, Colbert Nation pushed Stephen Colbert over the top as a write-in candidate by a landslide.
When Colbert announced the sale of wriststrong bracelets to benefit the Yellow Ribbon Fund, sales raised at least $171,525, plus an additional $17,200 from the final auction for the actual cast worn during his own wrist injury recovery.
According to the American Political Science Association, contributions to Democratic political candidates rose 40% for the 30 days following a candidate’s appearance on the show.
All shows sway, but if you want to understand an organization, even one as disorganized as this, you have to follow the money.
Putting the Money Where their Mouths Are
The organizers came up with a clever idea to get Mr. Colbert’s attention and prove how serious they really are. What better than by asking for donations to DonorsChoose.org, a program where teachers can request donations for a variety of programs. A group with a board member none other than Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. himself.
The goal was to eventually raise as much as $100,000 for these noble causes, if not Nobel causes. Sounds like a monumental feat, considering the Facebook page had less than 50,000 fans at the time. Even when Hillary Clinton put out a call for donations to Donor’s Choose, and with her tens of millions of ardent supporters, she only managed to raise the modest sum of $29,945. All dollars well deserved and well spent, but a presidential candidate that only ran in one state surely can’t hope to best an international figure like Hillary Clinton.
Further, add to the equation that Stephen Colbert himself never endorsed nor announced the donation drive. This isn’t something he requested, but something that was requested on his behalf.
$100,000 clearly was not a realistic figure, and the proof is in the pudding (which seems to be made of the stuff that is America.) Apparently the organizers completely missed their mark in estimating the passion, compassion and disposable income of the Colbert Nation, because less than 36-hours later (as of the time of this story,) the donations already total more than $181,859. Only 181% of the goal in 36 hours isn’t just a statement, it’s an indication of a movement.
One can only assume the donations from Glenn Beck’s rabid fans haven’t surfaced because they’ve already given up too much money to the RNC and GoldLine as a hedge against the coming destruction of America. Incidentally, Beck’s only defense against the Goldline scam accusation has been to personally attack and demean Congressman Anthony Wiener.
When is the Big Rally?
Colbert has refused to comment, which means that what started as a cute and clever joke is now so serious it can’t be taken off the table.
There have been countless references to the possibility of an upcoming rally during the past week’s shows (on both The Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,) and now this runaway freight train of donations given to serve the greatest good, specifically for our nation’s children has become too real to discount even partially.
As of today it looks like the rally will be held on 10/10/2010, a perhaps apocalyptic day for critics of Colbert and the assorted pro-crazy movements, bowel or otherwise.
How to Help, How to Hinder
If you support Stephen Colbert, the truthiness movement, rational thought, and a general flight-to-sanity, there are a few things you can do. You can join them on Facebook, donate to teachers with underfunded programs on DonorsChoose.org, and tell everyone you know about the project.
If you don’t support it, if you want to see it go down in flames, I’ll share with you a few quick ideas on what you can do. You can create your own Anti-Truthiness Rally Facebook page, you can create your own donation campaign on a non-political site, like DonorsChoose.org to show that your people have the same sort of moxy as your detractors, or you can organize huge groups to show up at the rally with contradicting signs. Beware you’ll still show up in the head-count as the countless millions strong in support, much as journalists, police and detractors to the Restoring Honor rally were included in the final tally.
And as sure as Glenn Beck’s attendance magically inflated by unholy factors, the Restoring Truthiness Rally will surely be attended by tens of millions. I can’t afford to go myself, but I can watch it on television and attest that nobody can tell us there isn’t 1/3rd of the earth’s population on hand.
As for Beck, Hannity and O’Reilly, those guys can keep bozarking each other until the end of time, and it won’t mean anything in the shadow of a Restoring Truthiness Rally.
FOLLOW-UP: In the ten-hours since this article was posted, an additional $19,000 has been raised, bringing the total to $200,370 (9/15/10 at 1:32pm Pacific)
FOLLOW-UP: In the two-days since this article was posted, the total has risen to $238,751 from 5,812 donors, reaching 66,710 students.