This Saturday I attended the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, an event hosted by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The two organizers are hosts of The Daily Show and the Colbert Report (pronounced with silent 'T's ie. "the Colbear Repour"), two satirical current events programs on the Comedy Central cable network. I have always been interested to attend a political rally, and since I don't have particularly strong beliefs then this seemed like an appropriate event for my first rally.
Being comedians, Jon and Steven (who regularly lampoon politicians, journalists and pundits for just about any opinion the espouse) were wary to attach any political message to the rally. Every news outlet made some attempt to explain what the rally was about. Many concluded that participants felt that politics had deteriorated into too much rhetoric and hyperbole, and that a return to sane discourse is required for the country to progress.
To me, all attempts to explain the rally are doomed to fail. Since nobody knew in advance what the primary message was, it attracted anybody who felt a resonance with the characters of Stewart and Colbert, which is to say all those who don't take things too seriously. It was something of an anti-rally, and perhaps the real message to take home is: rallies are pretty pointless. It's clearly not difficult to persuade thousands of people to show up in a central location for a few hours on a sunny October Saturday afternoon. You don't need to have a strong or coherent message. Holding a rally doesn't achieve anything, but that doesn't mean you should do it!
I personally enjoyed the experience. I think the demographic was of people who are not rich or poor. They are educated, but they don't claim to know it all. They are reasonable people who are not easily offended or angered. It was fun to meet a few such people, and therapeutic for us all to have our own rally. Do I think even the slightest tremor will be felt in the political landscape? No, not really. But in an age of extremism, it is comforting to know that were are at least a few thousand other sane people out there.
See it on my Flickr