215,000 reasonable people rock DC

I drove down to DC from Rhode Island for the Rally to Restore Sanity, and found that other reasonable people had travelled by the busload from Oregon, New York, Texas, all over the country.

In fact, the estimate of reasonable Americans (215,000) was more that double the estimate (87,000) from the Glen Beck rally.  There were tons of families, and people of all ages.  I was surprised at how many elderly couples I saw, in fact.

People created their own signs for the Rally, and many of them were very creative, like the one pictured above.  In fact, the reasonableness was evident in the way we all treated each other, packed like sardines on the National Mall.  There was not much room to move around during the rally, which made life challenging for those who needed easy access to the port-o-potties.

Personally, I was near the back of the Rally, but Jon Stewart did a great job of amplifying the rally and providing video images.  We even did some crowd tricks at the beginning, like a wave that took more than 60 seconds to go from front to back, and a seismic inducing crowd jump.

People sat on the stairs of the museums, and a few limber folks even climbed trees.  The crowd was enthusiastic; it is powerful to be among such a large group of reasonable people.

Hopefully, the reasonableness of the crowd will rub off on the political process.  Jon Stewart’s speech at the end of the Rally was powerful, if you didn’t hear it, the text is available here.

Being Halloween, there were a number of creative costumes among those in attendance.

Patriotism was also in great abundance at the Rally.  While those who listened to FOX News coverage undoubtedly concluded the event was a conspiracy by socialists to activate the youth prior to the election, not one mention of the election was made during the entire three hours.  In fact, the main point was to nurture and grow reasonable behavior in our political and personal lives.  That reasonableness may not get the ratings on cable TV, but that is actually the point.


Jon Stewart’s closing speech at the Rally to Restore Sanity

“I can’t control what people think this was.  I can only tell you my intentions.   This was not a rally to ridicule people of faith or people of activism or to look down our noses at the heartland or passionate argument or to suggest that times are not difficult and that we have nothing to fear.  They are and we do.  But we live now in hard times, not end times.  And we can have animus and not be enemies.

But unfortunately one of our main tools in delineating the two broke.  The country’s 24 hour political pundit perpetual panic conflictinator did not cause our problems but its existence makes solving them that much harder.  The press can hold its magnifying up to our problems bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen or they can use that magnifying glass to light ants on fire and then perhaps host a week of shows on the sudden, unexpected dangerous flaming ant epidemic.

If we amplify everything we hear nothing.  There are terrorists and racists and Stalinists and theocrats but those are titles that must be earned.  You must have the resume.  Not being able to distinguish between real racists and Tea Partiers or real bigots and Juan Williams and Rick Sanchez is an insult, not only to those people but to the racists themselves who have put in the exhausting effort it takes to hate–just as the inability to distinguish terrorists from Muslims makes us less safe not more.  The press is our immune system.  If we overreact to everything we actually get sicker–and perhaps eczema.

And yet, with that being said, I feel good—strangely, calmly good.  Because the image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false.  It is us through a fun house mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim in the waist and maybe taller, but the kind where you have a giant forehead and an ass shaped like a month old pumpkin and one eyeball.

So, why would we work together?  Why would you reach across the aisle to a pumpkin assed forehead eyeball monster?  If the picture of us were true, of course, our inability to solve problems would actually be quite sane and reasonable.  Why would you work with Marxists actively subverting our Constitution or racists and homophobes who see no one’s humanity but their own?  We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is—on the brink of catastrophe—torn by polarizing hate and how it’s a shame that we can’t work together to get things done, but the truth is we do.  We work together to get things done every damn day!

The only place we don’t is here or on cable TV.  But Americans don’t live here or on cable TV.  Where we live our values and principles form the foundations that sustains us while we get things done, not the barriers that prevent us from getting things done.  Most Americans don’t live their lives solely as Democrats, Republicans, liberals or conservatives.  Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do—often something that they do not want to do—but they do it–impossible things every day that are only made possible by the little reasonable compromises that we all make.

Look on the screen. This is where we are. This is who we are.  (points to the Jumbotron screen which show traffic merging into a tunnel).  These cars—that’s a schoolteacher who probably thinks his taxes are too high.  He’s going to work.  There’s another car-a woman with two small kids who can’t really think about anything else right now.  There’s another car, swinging, I don’t even know if you can see it—the lady’s in the NRA and she loves Oprah.  There’s another car—an investment banker, gay, also likes Oprah.  Another car’s a Latino carpenter.  Another car a fundamentalist vacuum salesman.  Atheist obstetrician.  Mormon Jay-Z fan.  But this is us.  Every one of the cars that you see is filled with individuals of strong belief and principles they hold dear—often principles and beliefs in direct opposition to their fellow travelers.

And yet these millions of cars must somehow find a way to squeeze one by one into a mile long 30 foot wide tunnel carved underneath a mighty river.  Carved, by the way, by people who I’m sure had their differences.  And they do it.  Concession by conscession.  You go.  Then I’ll go.  You go. Then I’ll go.  You go then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car?  Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay—you go and then I’ll go.

And sure, at some point there will be a selfish jerk who zips up the shoulder and cuts in at the last minute, but that individual is rare and he is scorned and not hired as an analyst.

Because we know instinctively as a people that if we are to get through the darkness and back into the light we have to work together. And the truth is, there will always be darkness.  And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t the promised land. Sometimes it’s just New Jersey.  But we do it anyway, together.

If you want to know why I’m here and want I want from you, I can only assure you this: you have already given it to me.  Your presence was what I wanted.

Sanity will always be and has always been in the eye of the beholder.  To see you here today and the kind of people that you are has restored mine.  Thank you.”

 


In A Future Age heads to Washington DC

This Saturday, reasonable Americans will be gathering on the Washington Mall, and In A Future Age will be onhand to document the sanity.

In the midst of all the political vitriol, hypocrisy, and insanity being expressed on the campaign trail, it is important to document the reasonable among us.

After all, no one really bats an eye when reasonable people open their mouth.  People pay attention when crazy people bring up crazy solutions.

If we are going to find solutions to entitlement reform, climate change, and other complex, divisive issues, we are going to need all the reasonable people we can get.

Those who give out ideological purity tests are not reasonable.

Those that do not try to understand science, but instead adopt the ‘scientific’ views of their favorite radio jock are not reasonable.

Those who have been unable to compromise, especially when their country needs them to, and then have the audacity to claim that they will do so in the future are unreasonable, until proven otherwise.

Those that would rather sit on their hands then move one inch from their ideological platform, because they hold a minority and believe that is the only way to gain political power are unreasonable.

As a society, we need to elect reasonable people – people who will be friends and make deals with people they disagree with, in order to find solutions.  We used to have a lot of reasonable people in Washington.  In fact, there are still a few, like Orin Hatch, Barack Obama, and Russ Feingold.  However, weight of this political moment is on those who represent the extreme, who will not compromise.  Unfortunately, that will not get us anywhere.

In Washington on Saturday, we reasonable people will gather.  We will act reasonably.  I’ll be back next week with photos and an account of the event.  Washington D.C., here I come.


Mr. Stewart goes to Washington

Great political satire is a beautiful thing.  The upcoming and competing rallies on the National Mall, by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, capture the zeitgeist of our times.  Stewart calls for those who think Hitler mustaches are out of style to descend on our Nation’s capital for the Rally to Restore Sanity:

“We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard; and who believe that the only time it’s appropriate to draw a Hitler mustache on someone is when that person is actually Hitler. Or Charlie Chaplin in certain roles. Are you one of those people? Excellent. Then we’d like you to join us in Washington, DC on October 30 — a date of no significance whatsoever — at the Daily Show’s “Rally to Restore Sanity.” Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.”

Brilliant.  In today’s 24-hour media culture, Stewart has often been outdone in artifice by the actual “Fair and Balanced” and “Trustworthy” news media that he so successfully critiques.  This rally shines a satirical light on the movements, funded by billionaires and international corporate titans, but Of the People, of course.   Stephen Colbert comes from the other side, in his March to Keep Fear Alive:

“America, the Greatest Country God ever gave Man, was built on three bedrock principles: Freedom. Liberty. And Fear — that someone might take our Freedom and Liberty. But now, there are dark, optimistic forces trying to take away our Fear — forces with salt and pepper hair and way more Emmys than they need. They want to replace our Fear with reason. But never forget — “Reason” is just one letter away from “Treason.” Coincidence? Reasonable people would say it is, but America can’t afford to take that chance. So join The Rev. Sir Dr. Stephen T. Colbert, D.F.A. on October 30th for the “March to Keep Fear Alive”™ in Washington DC. Pack an overnight bag with five extra sets of underwear — you’re going to need them. Because, to Restore Truthiness we must always… Shh!!! What’s that sound?! I think there’s someone behind you! Run!”

Glenn Beck is scared.  He warned his audience that Stewart and Colbert were out to “activate the youth.” Apparently he is frightened by the glare of their sharp satire.  Colbert, whose conservative satire was originally aimed at ‘Papa Bear’ Bill O’Reilly, but is now equally focused on ‘Mama Bear’ Sarah Palin, identifies the fear that pervades conservative political messaging.  Inveighing against the terrorists, illegal immigrants, gay marriage, and late term abortions, Republican political campaigns are designed to scare voters – Dick Cheney was always trying to inculcate fear.  The controversy around the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ is a perfect example of that rhetoric.  Remember, you are either with the right-wing Republicans, or you are against them.