A Takeaway From The Rally to Restore Sanity
Monday, 01 November 2010
I feel so helpless and confused
Cause I hear screaming on the left
Yelling on the right
I'm sitting in the middle
Trying to live my life
Cause I can't stop the war
Shelter homeless, feed the poor
I can't walk on water
I can't save the sons and daughters
Well, I can't change the world
And make things fair
The least that I can do
The least that I can do
The least that I can do is care
That is a portion of the lyric from a song, Care, performed by Kid Rock, T.I. and Sheryl Crow at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C. It's a bittersweet tune, sad and uplifting at the same time, and it made me weepy as I listened to it live on television Saturday. I'll get back to that, but first:
The moment I heard Jon Stewart's announcement of this rally in September, I wanted to go and had I been living still in Maine or New York City, I would have even though one of my top two or three pet hates is crowds. But from Oregon, particularly given the pain of air travel these days (another top pet hate), it was just too far and too expensive.
(My friend and fellow elderblogger, Frank Paynter, did go to the rally – all the way from his home in Wisconsin. You can see Frank's photos and commentary at his blog, Listics.)
To attend in spirit, on Saturday morning I tuned the little TV next to my desk to CSPAN and thought I'd catch up with some personal housekeeping chores on the computer while the rally played in the background. I didn't get far with that; mostly I watched the tube.
I've been a Jon Stewart fan from the beginning of The Daily Show. I appreciate what his compatriot, Stephen Colbert, does but I prefer Stewart's brand of silliness particularly when it is at its most juvenile. Not many comedians can make me laugh out loud – certainly not when I'm at home alone - but Stewart manages to do it regularly.
And I like his earnestness. Peeping out from under the silliness, profanity, schtick, one-liners, skits, jabs, jeers and all, he really wishes our world to be a better place than it is. And it seemed to me on Saturday that that was what the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was all about no matter who or what caused the mess we are in.
There was a marvelous moment at the rally when Stephen Colbert, in character, was carrying on about being fearful of all Muslims. Stewart interrupted to introduce Kareem Abdul Jabbar, a convert to Islam, causing Colbert – a Jabbar fan – to cave.
Would that it could be as easy to change minds as in a comedy sketch.
In dissecting, from time to time, the importance (or not) of Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, the media universally refers to his youthful audience. I hope they were watching on Saturday. There were at least as many gray heads as youngsters there, many of whom traveled the breadth of the United States to attend.
With that in mind, I wonder if anyone doing wrap-ups of the rally will make a comparison to Woodstock – sans mud, of course. There was a similar feeling of camaraderie and togetherness I felt from the crowd coming through my television screen. And, a sense of relief from the pernicious screaming and yelling that has been the motif of this midterm election campaign.
Which brings me back to Kid Rock's song.
I haven't paid much attention to popular music since disco took over in the 1970s. I know Kid Rock's name only vaguely from the celebrity noise machine that never stops, and I was surprised when I checked Wikipedia to find that he “has been an outspoken supporter of the Republican Party” and, in the 2004 presidential campaign, of George W. Bush.
But he has written a song, included on his newest album to be released later this month, that mirrors my own feelings of helplessness for us all in these terrible times.
Every day, the news reminds me there is so much that needs fixing and so little I can do. Maybe my weepy response to Kid Rock's song is the best kind of result that can come from Jon Stewart's rally – that a flaming, old liberal/progressive like me unexpectedly found some common ground with a young(ish) Bush Republican.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcia Mayo: Proud
I caught bits of the rally on TV, though, inevitably, I was in a meeting. Quite a lot of the commentary has pointed to the (relatively advanced) age of the crowd. Perhaps an older cohort is who could afford to make the trek to DC on an October Saturday? Comedy Central must know the demographics of its audience, though the talk is always of the young. Not so?
Posted by: janinsanfran | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 06:37 AM
This week-end didn't give me time for watching TV but I read another blogger's take on it and thought wow, this is better for the country than I imagined. Thanks for the review and the song. It is encouraging but not encouraging for us to sit back now and hope somebody else will do this. They won't. They don't. That's the frustrating part that we want 'them' to do to so we can do our own thing; and then are upset when 'they' don't. it's up to us and we have to take time out of our lives to keep informed and stay caring. Great song.
Posted by: Rain | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 06:39 AM
Because my Town House Association chose to hold a neighborhood coffee at the tennis court the same time as the rally (Republicans?) I missed the first part of the rally. I stayed at the coffee just long enough to make my presence known and then rushed home in time to catch the battle of the 'trains'. I was glued to my TV from then on.
I thought Jon Stewart's ending talk was just excellent. We must restore sanity to this nation or perish as a Democracy.
Posted by: Darlene | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 07:26 AM
Thanks for posting the song, Ronni. I loved it when I heard it while watching the rally.
I thought the rally was a marvelous idea beautifully executed and the timing was perfect.
Hopefully those in attendance in DC and at the satellite rallies around the nation came away enthused enough to remember to vote tomorrow (if they haven't already).
Posted by: Diane | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 07:42 AM
Amen to your articulation of your discovery of common ground. Is it possible the each of us, regardless of passions and perspectives could just look for that common ground, no matter how small the square footage (even a square nanometer)?
Posted by: Linda Skupien | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 07:55 AM
I attended the rally. Metro was jammed, but we walked a good 6 miles and finally got a cab...many of us walked. The crowd was very mellow...we all felt like brothers and sisters in our agreement. According to Metro Washington it broke the record for ridership...the last record held by the Desert Storm rally in 1991. Over 825,000 rode on Saturday! I met people from California, Kentucky, Boston and Montana. Most were young, but there were many oldies and goodies like us.
Posted by: Tabor | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 08:17 AM
I wish I could have been there, too. As it was, I watched every single minute.
It was a great event. I just hope it helped.
And yeah, Jon Stewart is the best!
Posted by: Kay Dennison | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 09:06 AM
We all watched the rally on tv, including my 8 year old grandson. When Ozzie and Yusef walked off the stage arm in arm, he said "Hah! They finally figured it out." Maybe 8 year olds should run the country.
Stewart makes compromise seem so possible (not easy, but possible). If only!
Posted by: Elaine of Kalilily | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 09:34 AM
My youngest daughter was at thr rally and she voted my proxy. An estimated 215,000 people attended the rally organized by Comedy Central talk show hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.
Beck's folly pulled about 87,000.
Are we winning? Not yet and unfortunately many of the people that did attend the rally may not even vote in this election. The "enthusiasm gap"
strikes again. I did vote (the Green ticket with two exceptions for Deomocrats I have confidence in) but I can empathize with the 60% of the electorate who probably won't get to the polls this year. The whole election "scene" is ugly and decidedly unpleasant. We're all going to need some serious catharsis when it's finally over.
Posted by: mythster | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 11:19 AM
I loved some of the signs that were carried by attendees to the Stewart/Colbert rally.
In a mild rebuke of the Tea Party signs which are always so angry and strident one guy's sign said: '
WHAT DO WE WANT?
WHEN DO WE WANT IT?
WITHIN A REASONABLE LENGTH OF TIME.....
Posted by: Nancy | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 11:43 AM
I still believe that there are more of us (moderates/progressives) than there are of them (conservatives/tea partyers), but it won't matter if we fail to vote in this election. If we lose badly tomorrow, as many think we will, we need to reorganize and come back stronger than ever in 2012. The vision of John Boehner as Speaker of the House and extremists like Jim Demint and Michele Bachmann (and, heaven forbid, Sharron Angle, if she is elected) setting the agenda should scare us all.
Posted by: Elizabeth Rogers | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 12:00 PM
Thanks for the link to my blog Ronni. I have dozens of pictures and lots of impressions that I want to share later this week, but I'm all wound up with the election too! So, I'll write more about this gathering later.
Suffice it for now to say that there was something Woodstockian and seminal about the whole thing. Young people in their twenties, thirties, and forties comprised most of the crowd, with about as many children there as oldsters like me.
The whole thing was so darned NICE it almost bordered on saccharine sometimes. I saw no drunk and disorderly behavior, smelled no weed, witnessed no arguments or abuse. I saw lots of black people and latinos. christians and muslims and jews. Ran into an architect friend of mine from Madison, Anurag Mehta... for all I know he's an atheist like me. Maybe not. Saw one Sikh in a tightly wrapped turban. You get my point... every kind of person seemed to be represented. And they were there out of a compulsion to represent something nice and good and true. It was very cool.
Posted by: Frank Paynter | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 12:05 PM
I,too. was trying to fold clothes and do some weeding out of files but ended up mesmerized by the rally on TV! My absolute favorite part was Fr. Sarducci's benediction in which he asked God politely to "send him a sign" when he said the name of the "one true religion!" Starting with "Methodists"... and then when he hit "Roman Catholic" he said it several times, "Testing, testing"... no sign. Hilarious!
Posted by: Kathleen Noble | Monday, 01 November 2010 at 11:35 PM
Thanks for sharing the song lyrics in print -- very moving expressive words. Most of the time the words sung are unintelligible with instrumentation and amplification frequently drowning them out. Thought it was just me, until years ago the younger generations told me they couldn't understand many of them either and had to read them in print on albums or internet.
There is an infectious spirit in crowd immersion that cannot be otherwise achieved.
Hopefully, some impression was made by the sheer numbers of those physically present.
I didn't consider attending the Rally, other than virtually, as I've come to share your dislike for today's long distance air travel. In the future I might consider trying some trains with sleepers if they travel through picturesque areas plus time isn't an element.
Enjoyed watching the live streaming coverage at Comedy Central internet site. My son phoned to remind me it was on as I had slept in -- hadn't missed much.
I like Stewart's satire and sometimes Colbert proves to be an effective contrasting foil. I think the rally was mostly geared to appeal to much younger generations, and rightfully so, since their views are vital in providing hope for our country's future.
I especially enjoyed the video photo segment and Stewart's closing speech.
Posted by: joared | Tuesday, 02 November 2010 at 02:18 AM
My 17-year old daughter and I were there and had a wonderful time. Met incredible people from out of state, and yes with gray hair! Restored my faith that there are many people from all over the country, all ages, all nationalities, all faiths that truly seek civil discourse. I am not alone! But your post today proves that the screaming of sound bits from this year is nothing new. We can, however, continue to HOPE.
Posted by: Kathy East | Tuesday, 02 November 2010 at 09:51 AM
If I had been able to, I would have been there. When I told my kids that, they were very surprised. I hate crowds, too. It is too bad that the positive mood of the rally has been lost to the results of the election. Stewart and Colbert may have had twice as many people attend the rally, but Beck's people probably all voted, and the sane people apparently did not. Sanity is not much good if only the insane vote.
Posted by: chlost | Sunday, 07 November 2010 at 06:24 PM