October 31, 2010
Is the rally just a fun way to spend an afternoon with entertainers, comedians and 200,000 of your closest, most apolitical friends? A covert promotion for progressive causes on the eve of a crucial midterm vote? Is it, as one writer has already argued, the Woodstock for the millennial generation? (Hey, man, if you didn’t blog about it, you weren’t really there.)I was there. Now I'm blogging about it. As far as rallies go, my experience was about the same as every other rally I've ever attended. It was crowded. It was uncomfortable. It was hard to hear. And it was even harder to see. I may have been able to say "I was there" but the person watching on CSPAN from home can actually say that they saw the event.
What's curious about this rally is that it never really had a clear agenda. Was it supposed to be a mere mockery of the event that Glenn Beck hosted in the summer? Or was it supposed to be a legitimate movement by liberals to generate support prior to the midterm election? Based on the signs I saw at the event, the answer isn't clear. There were people there who were obviously just making fun of Tea Partiers. There were others with political agendas. And there were a few who just seemed to be defending the fact that they're not crazy, as some folks on the right side of the isle have suggested.
I'm generally lukewarm when it comes to these types of events. In the next week there will be big fights over the estimated attendance. There will be arguments on Cable TV news about whether Glenn Beck or John Stewart "won" the game of bringing people to the national mall to stand around for a couple of hours. Supporters from each side will predictably try to claim victory is this "game". But the two sides will never come to an agreement.
At the end of the day, I walked away from the Rally to Restore Sanity feeling underwhelmed. The event was unbelievably hyped, so I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of people walked away feeling the same way. The big question, in my mind, is what these rallies are really hoping to achieve?