I know that I’ve said that my blog is all about baseball – the game and its history. However, I just attended an event with my son, Bobby, that I feel that I need to take a couple of minutes to address. I promise that this will the only time that I stray from my baseball theme.
The Rally to Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) was held on the National Mall in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 30. It was more of an anti-rally rally for people who are fed up with politics as usual, the constant barrage of negative campaigning and the 24-hour News media over-hype.
Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert put on a great event with musical performances by The Roots, John Legend, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Ozzy Osbourne, The O’Jays, Mavis Staples, Jeff Tweedy, Sheryl Crowe, Kid Rock and Tony Bennett. Other guests included Sam Waterston, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, R2D2 and Father Guido Sarducci.
Attendance estimates range from “well over 200,000” (the Parks Service) to 215,000 (CBS News) to 250, 000 (Canada’s CTV). This, with original expectations of 60,000. However many people were in attendance, the crowd was large enough to force the shut down of the Washington Metro. It couldn’t handle the volume of people.
I knew that it would be a big crowd when I checked into our hotel Friday night in Reston, Virginia. The manager said that they were unexpectedly busy, with twice as many check-ins as they had expected. Additionally, they were receiving calls from other hotels looking for vacancies. He said that they didn’t know why they were experiencing such a rush. When I reminded him that the Rally To Restore Sanity (and/or Fear) was on Saturday he said, “I forgot about that, that makes sense”.
On Saturday morning, we drove to the Vienna/Fairfax Metro station prior to the crack of dawn to catch a train to the National Mall. The Vienna/Fairfax station is the first on its line but the train was quickly filled. As it proceeded towards the National Mall, it became extremely crowded and reminded me of a ride I had taken on the Tokyo subway system a few years ago.
Since I returned home, I’ve heard all sorts of rumors about the demeanor of the crowd. I must say that it was extremely well-mannered in my experience. I did not witness any problems whatsoever! The crowd was better behaved than some I’ve seen at Little League games. Besides a common disdain for politics as has become usual, the crowd was good-natured. Everyone seemed to have a great sense of humor as well as illustrated by the many creative posters and people’s reactions to them.
The diverse crowd showed that we could all play nicely together. We met people of different nationalities and religions from Virginia, Maryland, Florida, Ohio and California to name a few places. Bobby and I spent most of the day packed in with a wonderful family from Oregon. We all had a great time.The advent of the 24-news stations has been detrimental to both our government and its elections. Political pundits have become the latest stars of reality-TV. Everything is overdone and biased in one fashion or another. Pay them enough and they’ll spin it any way you want. It’s all about “the show” rather than unbiased news reporting and balanced analysis. Of course, the politicians are more than happy to lower themselves to this new level if it will help them gain funding and get them elected. The job of the politician has evolved from serving the public to self-serving. Their primary focus is on campaigning and getting elected/re-elected. It’s all about special interests and their money. Our two party system makes matters worse ensuring that little, if anything, gets accomplished.
I think that Jon Stewart summed it up best when he said that “When we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”
Is Washington listening??? I doubt it.
The photos below provide a flavor of some of the sentiments expressed and creativity demonstrated by rally-goers.