Rally to Restore Sanity works — thousands now much calmer

The Rally to Restore Sanity drew tens of thousands to the National Mall in Washington, D.C. and maybe a couple of thousand to Civic Center Park in Denver today.

What was it, though, a liberal fest … or a rally of reasonableness? A little of both. Most of the people we talked to in Denver, and most of the signs people were waving leaned toward the liberal, but when we talked to people, many of them really did express a sentiment something like this, “Why can’t people who disagree have friendly discussions about it instead of screaming and drawing lines in the sand?”

Local photo and DC video after the jump.

OK, nobody said those exact words to us, but it was close enough. Perhaps, one sign summed it up best: “It’s we the people, not us and them.”

Dan Lopez, who ran for Denver mayor against John Hickenlooper last time around and is already running to succeed him next time around, said he wants to govern by doing the right thing. “If you take care of workers with decent pay, that will create good karma that will help turn the economy around,” he said.

You don’t really hear much about good karma from politicians. Chalk one up for Lopez.

Cat Stevens, or Yusuf Islam, if you please, was not the only one singing about trains at the Rally. He was followed by Ozzy Osbourne singing “Crazy Train” and the O’Jays singing “love Train.”

“I support being sane in the world,” said Justin Mirach, of Arvada.

“I don’t think anything like this has ever happened before,” noted Kristin Gibbons, also of Arvada.

One man without a sign, Craig Koch, of Nederland, looked around at all the other signs and said, “I should have brought a sign, maybe ‘remember the WPA.’ The WPA was a good, reasonable thing,” he said.

“There is something to be said for real political discourse, where people disagree without being hostile,” said John Rosendahl of Denver.

Perhaps Jon Stewart summed the day up best when he noted, “Everyone knows it doesn’t matter what happens here today.” He said what really matters is what is reported about what happened.

USA Today had extensive coverage of the Rally, which you can read here.

An excerpt from USA Today, quoting Stewart:

So what exactly was this? 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 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 politico-pundit- perpetual-panic conflictinator did not cause our problems, but its existence makes solving them that much harder.

The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bring them into focus, illuminating issues — 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. …

Not being able to distinguish between real racists and tea partiers, or real bigots and Juan Williams or 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. …

That being said, I feel 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 funhouse mirror, and not the good kind that makes you look slim and maybe taller, but the kind that gives you a giant forehead and maybe an ass shaped like a month-old pumpkin. We hear every damn day about how fragile our country is, on the brink of disaster, torn by polarizing hate.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.

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