We got home this afternoon from DC after attending the very surreal Comedy-Political show known as the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear at the National Mall. (We were supposed to get home last night, but I will spare you that disaster.) Yes, we spent nearly 48 hours to attend a 3 hour event. It cost us a fair bit, we had to deal with several different and unrelated transportation meltdowns along the way, and parts were highly annoying, but the overall conclusion was it was completely worth it.
This evening I found this link to a survey for rally participants, to look at who participated and why. At the end are some free-form response boxes for two questions: “Why did you participate in the Rally to Restore Sanity?” and “What did you get out of it?” I started writing and found my responses were turning into a blog post so here are my answers.
Why did I go?
I’m tired of loud-mouth talking heads claiming to speak for me, “protecting” me (or my marriage) from modern multi-cultural America or telling me which vague monster under the bed I’m supposed to be afraid of this week. Or worse, claiming sole ownership of the banner “Real American” by virtue of political opinion, religious belief or geography.
The most obvious offenders on that account are currently conservatives. These are the people who have convinced my parents that Glenn Beck would surely have written the Federalist Papers himself had someone else not gotten to it first and to rail at lazy brown people sucking at the teat of tax-funded services while they themselves enjoy Social Security and Medicare benefits.
Their public school and state university-educated children, women in traditionally male professions, can only dream of such things for our future retirements. My sister would love to produce the oft-requested grandchildren if she were not the sole provider for her family and medically uninsurable without her billable-hours based employment and group plan. But that Obama health insurance reform, it will be the downfall of America, don’t you know. That same America their grandparents came to with hardly a penny to their names, demonized by previous generations of immigrants from elsewhere and many dying of preventable causes that because of government-funded research we now have ready solutions for.
There are a lot of difficult problems to solve in this country, but partisan bickering and stonewalling are only wasting hot air burnishing credentials with one’s friends, not saving one person from dying of preventable disease or ensuring one child’s education. Can we do everything? Of course not. But the loudmouths on the fringes and those pandering to them will not even try if it would mean missing an opportunity to make a political point at the expense of their enemies.
I could have participated in a local event but I am fortunate I currently have the resources to travel. (I remember all too well the times I didn’t.) I don’t want to be an activist, I’m just a modest someone going about her business but have found that I am forced by my anger into that role just to find a way to live my life on my own terms. I went to be counted, a pissed-off moderate irritated enough to put forth considerable effort to make a point. I also felt it important to go to DC and not just a local gathering in a liberal stronghold that is easily written off as “Look At Those Silly Californians!”
What did I get out of it?
In a practical sense, I got to spend orders of magnitude more time dealing with a poorly-organized and overcrowded transportation system than I actually spent at the event (where I couldn’t hear or see anything anyway.) I also have a big credit card bill I’ll have to pay next month. While I’m taking this survey, I’m watching the archived C-SPAN video to see what I missed.
But I’m a frequent enough traveller that I’m familiar with the potential, right down to the Metro meltdown and multiple cancelled flights. And as a rule, I don’t go to festivals for a reason. But this wasn’t about whether or not I expected to have a good time at a comedy show, or even that I was able to see family before heading back to the airport. (Efficiently combining trips is reasonable, you know.)
The organizers denied this was a political event, something I disagree with. It was not partisan but it was certainly political. Hundreds of thousands of people, many more if you consider those who could not make it to an event, saying “I’m tired of the Crazy and I’m not going to let you pretend to speak for me any more.” I got to be there to be part of that statement. If it’s true that “90% of life is showing up” then this was important enough to me that I was going to do whatever I could to show up. Yes, I was there. Yes, I was counted. I was disappointed that the crowd was so dense that nobody could see my height-challenged self holding a cleverly-made sign, but whatever. The rest is irrelevant.