I’m Full of Mental Health Today. I Went to a Sanity Rally in Washington!

Because in a crowd this big, sanity is contagious. That’s me, in the 2,912,537th row from the back.

How big was Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity on Saturday in Washington, D.C.?

It was so big that Fox News had to pretend that it didn’t exist. It was so bigthat I’m already getting spam about the lies on crowd size (CBS News hired the same aerial demographers who did the Glen Beck rally who estimated the Stewart rally at 215,000 to Beck’s 87,000 — it’s all liberal media lies!!!!). It was so big that even at 6 o’clock in the evening, three hours after the rally ended, there were still hordes of people streaming down the streets of D.C. heading for Georgetown.

We were hanging around our hotel on Saturday morning, thinking of moseying out to the Mall around noon-ish, when we ran into four ladies who had come in from Chicago for the rally. It was 9 o’clock in the AM and they were heading out already.

Then we gazed out of our hotel room window and noticed the steady stream of people making their way across town. It dawned on us that for a festival-type gathering of hundreds of thousandsof people, one does not wait until noonish to get one’s ass in gear. So we gathered up own signs and hot-footed it to the Sparkling Plain. (Refudiate Truthiness was rather the theme for the day.)

The Mall was already so packed with people that we were waaaaaaay in the back. Because the original rally permit was only for 60,000 people, the Parks Service had only opened up about half the lawns on the Mall. So for the first few hours there were vast green acres of grass that were fenced off and the crowd was forced to line up on the edges of the center space — it was images of those “empty” lawns that Fox broadcast (as if to show sparse turn out). Later, though, those fields were opened up and masses of people moved in.

Still, even with the extra lawns opened up, there were so many people who couldn’t get close to the action that all the museums that face the Mall (the National Museum of American History, the National Museum of Natural History, The National Gallery of Art, The American Indian Museum, the Air and Space Museum, the Smithsonian Castle, the Freer) all had thousands of people sitting on their front steps and picnicing on their lawns — it was wall to wall humanity. We saw this cheery family (above) sitting at the Hirshhorn. They were my second favorite Sanity Rally Muslims — my favorite Sanity Rally Muslim was a guy with a sign that said

My Wife Is Muslim.

She Is Not A Terrorist.

But I’m Still Afraid Of Her.



Meta, man.

People were chatting with one another, taking pictures of each other, laughing at the clever signs, swapping stories about how far they’d driven to be here, getting all the jokes. And except for that big bore Guido Sarducci (boy, do I hate Saturday Night Live from the ’70s. I was not high in the ’70s, and always thought Saturday Night Live was profoundly un-funny in the ’70s. Don’t get me started with Gilda Radnor…) the entertainment was delightful…mostly.

How was it?

How was it to be around so many people practically frantic with sanity? How was it to stand shoulder to shoulder with people almost hysterically rational? How was it that as far as the eye could see, there were people raging to be fair, civil, open-minded, and tolerant?

Pretty freaking awesome.

13 Comments, RSS

  1. Mary November 1, 2010 @ 6:01 am

    Yes, I was there. I came from Pennsylvania to join in.
    It was great. ALL friendly people. Atmosphere was warm and friendly. Weather was perfect.
    And, many people my age ( 70’s) there. One old guy in a wheelchair was there; 90 year old WW11 Vet.

    It was wonderful.
    Sanity Rules !!

  2. August November 1, 2010 @ 8:15 am

    Bah. Sanity is for people who are afraid to commit to partisanship.

  3. julie November 1, 2010 @ 8:40 am

    Thanks. I was looking forward to your report! Glad it was such a beautiful day.. I regret not going, but even watching on television in Alaska was amazing and encouraging. The most positive event since the inauguration of Obama. Just in time, since the cynicism of the midterm elections was eating my soul. Long live irreverance..

  4. julie November 1, 2010 @ 8:41 am


  5. sarahsbooks November 1, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    I went for a really long walk that afternoon, it was so beautiful outside here in Maine. Then came home and watched the whole three hours on my computer screen (don’t have a tv), archived on c-span’s website. Love that c-span. LOVE that Jon Stewart.

  6. Nadine November 1, 2010 @ 10:28 am

    “Refundiate Truthiness” really does sum up the spirit of the day. I was there, too, and I saw that sign and wished I’d thought of it. The day was lovely and the Mall was CROWDED!

    I didn’t see a single mean or angry sign. My 2nd favorite:

    Bush (not equal sign) Hitler
    Obama (not equal sign) Hitler
    Hitler = Hitler

    Gotta go now and get Mavis Staples’s CD.

  7. glasseye November 1, 2010 @ 10:33 am

    I’m so jealous. Jon Stewart is the bomb-diggity.

  8. Rachel November 1, 2010 @ 11:18 am

    Vivian I am so very glad that you went to the ralley and reported back. I have linked to this posting on Facebook. It sounds like a great time and very refreshing to learn that there are that many folks willing to put up and show up for SANITY. Next thing we know, it might be a movement. 🙂

  9. Mindy November 1, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

    I am so envious!!I live in Oregon and couldn’t make the trip. I watched the whole thing on TV.

    I find it gratifying that more than twice as many people want to return our public discourse to sanity than think we have lost our honor (the Beck rally was to restore honor).

    Now I hope there are more than twice as many people who will vote for sane candidates.

  10. Timaree (freebird) November 1, 2010 @ 7:32 pm

    It sounds like it was a great day. I hope it has an effect on the main populace. It sounds like more people were interested in this than Beck’s rally. Honor has to be earned and it’s not earned by being a bully in the world or in politics. I sure hope sanity prevails.

  11. Shelley November 3, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

    The rally left me feeling very hopeful about the mid-term elections, anticipating that sanity would indeed prevail. It did to some extent here in Oregon at least, although the governor’s race is too close to call at the moment.

    Unfortunately in many parts of the country it was the mis-information, fear tactics, and outright lies of the radical right that carried the elections. A sad day for the country with the party of “NO” holding the majority in the House.

  12. Barbara Finwall November 8, 2010 @ 10:30 am

    I was there, too. Although I missed getting together with blogger friends it was one of the high points of my life-so far. It was so nice being in such a large crowd of like-minded people, especially while living in this super conservative town of Fallbrook.

  13. Heidi November 15, 2010 @ 8:05 am

    this gives me hope 🙂

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