A Rally to Restore Sanity. Ideally, such an event, held Saturday, October 30, 2010 and organized by Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert and Comedy Central - just four days before one of the most closely watched and incessantly blathered on about midterm elections - would be unnecessary, but given the vitriolic nature of discourse in our country, particularly with regard to the media’s coverage of politics, it is, indeed, all too necessary. So here’s the encouraging news: There are a lot - we’re talking thousands upon thousands upon thousands - of people who want to restore sanity.
A few days before heading down to the Rally, I mentioned to my dermatologist that I was going. She hadn’t heard about the Rally and asked about its purpose. I said that the extremes on either side of an issue had become so loud and disdainful their rhetoric had resorted to fear mongering. What Jon Stewart was trying to promote - really what he tries to promote every night on The Daily Show - is that while we have our honest and justified differences of opinion, we can disagree without being disagreeable. My doctor then said she thought that most of the country is more centrist than anything else - that we actually agree on a lot more than it would seem. “Exactly!” I said. That’s the point of the Rally. Instead of letting the level of public debate be taken over by an inordinately loud minority, Stewart wanted people - the majority of people - to stand up and be heard: We’re mad as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore... if that’s okay with you.
I was lucky enough to go to DC for the Rally, thanks to a free bus ride courtesy of the Huffington Post. And I wasn’t the only one: There were 200 HuffPost buses, each of which carried about 100 people. That’s 20,000 people just on HuffPost buses. Of course there were tons and tons of other people attending the rally. While there’s no official count at the moment, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports estimates at anywhere between 60,000 and 200,000. My experience tells me it’s more likely that were were 200,000 people. The bad news about that is that I couldn’t get anywhere near to the stage and could barely hear. (Truthfully, after about half an hour of trying to shimmy our way to a view, my friend and I gave up and decided to go have lunch.)
But that’s also the good news: All these people - and inarguably thousands more who couldn’t make the trip (like my parents, for example) support sanity. Truly, a majority of people support rational, high-minded, civil debate. The hope now, though, is that this Rally will energize people and get them to the polls on Tuesday.
When Stewart first announced this Rally, he said it was for the people who normally didn’t rally because they “had sh*t to do.” Often times, these busy, reasonable, hard working citizen don’t pay tremendous attention to the ins and outs of politics and unfortunately, many of them, particularly young people, don’t vote. Either they’re turned off by negative campaigning, feel they don’t know enough to make an informed decision or feel like those very loud minorities are actually the majority and therefore their vote won’t count.
Their vote does count. That is what this Rally was all about. We have to come together and make a stand. We have to show up when decisions are being made and make our voices heard. We matter. Our votes matter. We cannot afford to become complacent or jaded; we have to be a part of the process.
As I was traveling home from the Rally, I was (surprise, surprise) listening to American Idiot. As the title song poured through my headphones, I heard my beautiful Idiots sing, “Now everybody do the propaganda/and sing along to the age of paranoia.” That’s exactly what we shouldn’t do: We should not become American idiots. Instead, we have to reject the propaganda, eschew the paranoia and make ourselves heard.
Your vote is your voice. Shout out loud on Tuesday, America. Vote!!!
Visit rallytorestoresanity.com/photos to see a collection of fan uploaded Rally photos.