I said I was going to do it and I did. On Saturday I was among the thousands of people on the National Mall in Washington, DC for the much-hyped Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear, an event by comedians (yes, people they are actually comedians!) Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to basically unify all of those who are sick of the extreme left and right in this country monopolizing the conversation and attention of the media. And of course since just days away from Election Day, it was clearly a call to arms for Democrats, which by one estimate make up 41% of Stewart's fan base, ahead of tomorrow's election.
Full disclosure on my part: while I am a registered Democrat, I am just as disgusted with the behavior of the extreme left as the Tea Party. In that way, I think I'm a lot like my friend (OK, maybe friend is a strong word) Jon Stewart. Political leanings aside, I'm certainly the last person that would make a 10-hour round trip ticket in one day to go to, of all things, a rally. But, for me, this wasn't about politics. I don't mean to sound corny, but this was about being part of a cultural phenomenon—and I wasn't alone in that. I know that estimates of the crowd have put it at 215,000 (aside from Colbert who tweeted that it was 6 billion people ) but honestly, it seemed like closer to 500,000 to me. The National Mall was literally packed with people. Though I had press credentials (thanks to Tony Fox for that one) I didn't even make it up to the tent until the end of the day because it was nearly impossible to move through the crowd.
And the crowd was the absolute best part of the day. Because I .was really too far from the stage to see anything, early on I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to watch much of it at home. Made up of Democrats, Republicans (one of my favorite signs of the day said “I'm Republican, I'm not stupid), and yes, even a few Tea Party-ers, it was a crowd of all ages, races, genders, etc. After a performance by The Roots and the national anthem by 4 Troops, Stewart took to the stage to welcome the crowd and ask them not to litter: “Lets' leave this place as clean as we found it. Actually let's leave this place cleaner than we found it.” In the true political incorrectness that has made him so endearing, he said: “I think you know that the success of a rally measured by the... just kidding, it's color and size. As you know, If there you have too many white people at a rally, then your cause is being racist; but if you have too many people of color at a rally, well then you're just asking for something: special rights like eating in restaurants or piggy back rides or equal rights.” Colbert made his first appearance from his “fear bunker” 2,000 feet below the National Mall, where he was hiding out because of fear “that no one showed up to our rally.
People did show up, and the people that did make up that audience were of all shapes, sizes, colors, religions, sexual orientation, and political leanings. I'll have more coverage of the rally later today, including video. Stay tuned...