‘Rally to Restore Sanity’
Soon after Jon Stewart’s Rally to Restore Sanity was announced, a handful of satellite rallies were announced via Facebook. Now there are shadow rallies planned in 47 states and six foreign countries for October 30, according to rallymao.com, and predicted attendance numbers keep climbing. It seems the world is going crazy for sanity.
POLITICO spoke to organizers for a few of the farther-flung rallies to find out why Stewart’s event is resonating so far and wide.
Amy Lee, along with her friend Ashley Wright, is organizing the Los Angeles-based Rally to Restore Sanity.
“A couple of weeks ago, while we were having dinner together, we were talking about how much we wanted to go to the D.C. rally,” wrote Lee, a 38 year-old who works in production and H.R, and Wright, a 32 year-old post-doctoral biology scholar at Caltech, in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the time and money it would take to travel all the way to the East Coast.” They said that within two weeks of setting up a Facebook page for their event, 2,500 people had signed up to support a rally at L.A.’s Pershing Square.*
“We are Jon Stewart fans who love the spirit of the D.C. rally to ‘Take it Down a Notch for America’,” Lee and Wright added. The pair, along with a number of volunteer organizers, are trying to raise funds for a LED Screen to broadcast the main D.C. event to the crowd.
Similarly, Alaskan Blake Merrifield, a 38-year-old construction worker, told POLITICO that he hopes the Wasilla-based rally he has planned will give some Alaskans a brief respite from the extremes of the current political dialogue.
“For us this is a temporary cease-fire in a particularly hostile political season. It is a chance for the community to get together and have a laugh and a smile at the absurdity that is politics and media today,” Merrifield said.
Although the Wasilla rally will be small (100 to 200 attendees are expected), Merrifield explained that he feels it’s an important event for the small town where Sarah Palin spent much of her childhood and won the Miss Wasilla 1984 pageant.
“After all, the term ‘death panel’ originated from our sleepy little hamlet,” said Merrifield.
The Wasilla rally is starting at 8 a.m. so that the D.C. rally can be broadcast live to the crowd. For some satellite rallies, however, such synchronicity will not be possible.
Fourteen hours prior to the D.C. event, Scott Stevens, a 48-year-old Las Vegas show manager, will meet with a dozen others at an altitude of 17,590 feet to celebrate sanity at Mount Everest’s base camp in Nepal. “What better place to hold a satellite rally than at the top of the world?!” Stevens e-mailed.
Stevens added that that the group (plus anyone else at base camp wanting to join in) will also hold an open forum discussion, where attendees can talk politics. They will then hang Tibetan “prayer flags” carrying messages from friends and family. (Tibetans believe that prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion across the world.)
“I hope we can use the wind at the top of the world to spread some badly needed wisdom,” said Stevens.
Less exotic: others have begun to organize so they can show solidarity with the Rally to Restore Sanity from the comfort of their own homes.
The website www.Restore-Sanity.com was developed, according to co-creator Erica Zeitlin, to let “America’s far flung – or just lazy – attend a Virtual Rally to Restore Sanity via petition.” The site also serves as a central resource for other satellite rallies.
Although the website’s creators joke about the site encouraging apathy, they told POLITICO that they believe strongly in the power of Internet activism.
“Any modern-day grassroots movement seeking to have an impact must focus on the using the Internet,” said Change.org’s Matthew Slutsky, who helped develop the virtual rally petition. “Online organizers elected the President of the United States and we’re going to use the power of the Change.org tool to help restore sanity this fall.”
Meanwhile, the number of rally-goers expected in Washington on October 30th continues to grow, with the event’s Facebook profile listing nearly 200,000 expected attendees.
*UPDATE: This article originally reported that the L.A. rally would be held outside the Federal Building. Due to the size of the anticipated crowd,organizers told POLITICO on Tuesday morning that the rally location had been moved to Pershing Sq