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Restoring Sanity on the Washington Mall November 1, 2010

Posted by makingyourdashcount in intolerance, legislation, Ohio Politics, politics, Thoughts.
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“No problem, I am trying to quit, anyway.”  That response after a woman in line politely asked  the man in front of her to put out a cigarette was indicative of the experience at Comedy Central’s Rally for Sanity and/or Fear.  Young and old, probably more liberal than conservative, but as Jon Stewart pointed out “all with disposable income,” gathered on Washington’s Mall this weekend to… well, gather. We crammed onto the morning’s first metro train to get to the mall early enough to get a decent spot.  No problem.  We will get coffee and food once we get there. (Mistake)

Metaphoric sardines in a too small can, we got a great spot, in the second public section, by the Museum of the American Indian. The draw to DC to stop the bickering and shouting and have some intelligent civil conversation was a strong one for many.  Although the “official” estimate of the crowd was 215,000, the Washington Post reported

(DC) Metro officials said a new Saturday ridership record was set, with 825,437 trips taken. The average number of trips taken on a Saturday is about 350,000.

Hanging around the stage the day before, workers said that they planned for 150,000.  The permit was for 60,000, however the streets leading to the rally were filled with people who never got in, because there were just too many people. Gathered. For reasonableness.

I really did not have any expectations of this rally.  I knew it would be fun and entertaining;  it was Comedy Central.  It was not political, although there were smatterings of anti-teaparty and anti-CNN/MSNBC/FOX/ and even NPR news signs.  Peoples’ presence seemed to say,

We want our elected leaders to talk to each other to figure out solutions to our problems. There is middle ground on all issues; can’t we just find them?  And not yell?

Perhaps the root cause of this frustration is that we think we are electing leaders.  However to get reelected the politicians have to pander to groups who will financially support their next campaigns. To get re-elected politicians have to demonize their opponents because our society has become black and white with no one willing to commit to shades of grey until they are in their final term of office. Governance requires listening, consideration and compromise : all of which are missing from American politics.  Discussion means tuning out the 24 hours news talking heads and their name calling.

The signs seen at the rally seemed to reflect the desire to look past the emotional rhetoric, discuss facts and then work together to draw conclusions and make decisions.

Someone asked me how this rally compared to a rally that I attended in 2004 on the mall that was decidedly political.  My answer?  That one was empowering, it showed me the amplification of one voice when joined in harmony with others.  This rally?  It was reassuring.  I know that I can now sleep better tonight knowing that I stood with thousands of others for dialogue, that I am not the only one whose head feels ready to explode in this era of acerbic commentary and rash generalizations.  At the very least, it let me escape the cavalcade of meanness masquerading as politics until I vote on Tuesday.

As Jon Stewart mused,

If you amplify everything, no one hears anything.

It’s time for America to open her ears.


  1. Comedy Central:  next time plan for more people.    AND, instant coffee??    What were you thinking?  Ugh.
  2. There were lots of Ohioans there.  Wonder why.
  3. Of the thousands of people at the rally, I happened to stand in line for coffee with two women. Of these two friends, one grew up in Westerville, Ohio where I now live and the other knew someone that I did in her hometown of Casco, ME where I spent my childhood summers.  It is a small moderate world.

(Metro Statistics)  Maria Glod and Chris L. Jenkins, Malfunctioning escalator injures 4 at L’Enfant Plaza station ,Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, October 31, 2010; 7:45 PM