Rally addresses mainstream views
WASHINGTON — Comedians Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert's "Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear" attracted hundreds of thousands of people who crowded on the National Mall on Saturday in an effort to show a more "reasonable" side of Americans.
Stewart promoted the rally since September as a "Million Moderate March," pointing out on his show that only a select group of extremist citizens have outspoken the majority of Americans who are not as passionate in their political views.
At the rally, Stewart heavily criticized the media for focusing their attention on this select few and therefore presenting a false image of Americans as individuals incapable of compromise.
"The image of Americans that is reflected back to us by our political and media process is false," he said. "It is us through a fun house mirror."
Although Stewart does not blame the media for creating the country's problems, he said their programming makes it much more difficult to come up with solutions.
"The press can hold its magnifying glass up to our problems, bringing them into focus, illuminating issues heretofore unseen," Stewart said. "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."
Regardless of this media impediment on progress, Stewart said the reality is that citizens are reasonable and willing to work together.
"Americans live their lives more as people that are just a little bit late for something they have to do — often, something they do not want to do, but they do it," he said. "Impossible things every day, that are only made possible through the little reasonable compromises we all make."
In tune with the theme of compromise and crossing differences, a variety of people were at the rally, hailing from different political parties, races, ethnicities and faiths.
Some people came in dressed as important American figures like Abraham Lincoln or Rosie the Riveter while some simply arrived in their Halloween costumes. Meanwhile, thousands carried self-made signs expressing a number of sentiments, some conservative, liberal, moderate or even neutral.
One sign read "Things That Are Not Like Hitler" and underneath featured pictures of right and left wing leaders like former President George W. Bush next to President Barack Obama. On the other side, it read "Things That Are Like Hitler" coupled with a picture of the German dictator.
In total, the rally drew an estimated 215,000 attendees, which included citizens from around the country as well as people from outside U.S. borders.
AirPhotosLive.com, commissioned by CBS news, determined the estimate based on aerial pictures the company took during the rally, according to a CBS News article.
The amount more than doubles the estimated 87,000 people that showed up at Glenn Beck's August rally "Restoring Honor," which took place also on the National Mall two weeks before Stewart and Colbert announced the sanity rally on their television shows.
Just before 7 a.m., around 200 buses rented by the Huffington Post to drive attendees to the rally left New York, according to a tweet by Arianna Huffington, editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post. The buses brought about 10,000 people to the Capital.
Buses from other universities like the University of Pennsylvania as well as Toronto, Canada, also transported attendees to and from the Capital.
The rally, which blended comedy with motivational speeches, featured a range of musical entertainment by The Roots, who served as the main band, alongside artists like John Legend, Kid Rock and Sheryl Crowe.
One segment featured a faux battle between Cat Stevens, who played "Peace Train," and Ozzy Osbourne who sang "Crazy Train." Stewart eventually resolved the battle by introducing the O' Jays to sing "Love Train."
Despite the crowds and the distance, some New Jerseyans were still able to find a means of getting to the event.
Kelsey Walker, a Brookdale College junior, was persuaded to attend the rally through her friends who encouraged her to join them.
Although the rally's aim was to show how Americans were capable of compromise, Walker still noticed a lot of partisanship.
"There were a lot of signs that were saying things like, ‘I don't like tea baggers.' Majority of people were definitely there to promote compromise and all, but some people were still trying to stick out and be the jerks," Walker said.
Even so, the Marlboro, N.J., resident said the rally gave her hope for the future because of the amount of young people who showed up.
"I would like for the future to be a place where we all get along eventually," Walker said. "I know it's going to take a long time together. But our generation, we're a lot more accepting of others."
Like Walker, Manalapan, N.J., resident Steve Scarano was excited over the number of young adults that crowded the National Mall.
"Everything could be said about [the rally] could be said in the attendance," said Scarano, a Monmouth University senior. "It was a specific demographic that showed up. If you look at it, it was ‘The Daily Show' audience. It just showed that young people do still care."
Scarano said it was also a good picture of the true moderate majority of America.
"Even though it seems the partisanship is ruining everything, it's just what the media reports on," he said. "People don't have time to be angry and that partisan. All the people who seem crazy are probably not doing anything with their lives and everyone who is involved with the system has other things to do."