Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sanity Prevailed at the Rally, Fear at the Polls!!

It has taken me a few days to recover from the trip and think about how to describe the rally, which basically defies description.  It's hard to express the peace, joy, and delight of 250,000 people of all backgrounds, colors, religions, sizes, shapes, etc. congregated in one place, with one hope - that we can all get along and do what is best for all in our country.  It's reaffirming to see such a (large) diverse group of people interacting in such a positive way.

Leading up to the rally, news reports were saying that it was expected to be an under-30's crowd.....NOT!  As you know, I hooked up with the group from Sun City and I was among the youngest, but their enthusiasm and stamina matched mine.  We old-timers didn't seem or feel to be in the minority, and the younger people were  impressed that we would make the effort, especially those of us from really red states.  Once we arrived at Union Station, we split up into smaller groups, which made navigating the crowds much easier.  I partnered with a lady from the island who had also purchased her train ticket, planning to go on her own if that was the only way.  We wound up having a lot in common and conversation flowed easily.  We had breakfast at the station around 8AM and then headed to the Mall.  By the time we got there (around 9AM) it was already crowded.  We were lucky to get into the first section close to the stage.  Others in our group were behind us and didn't get into this section, so we felt luck to have gotten there when we did. The area directly in front of the stage was thick with people standing, so we moved to the left side under the trees where people who had brought chairs were sitting.  We planted our chairs and made camp.  From there, we were in perfect people watching position.  Over the next three hours, people kept streaming was incredible!!  Around 10AM the jumbo screens came on with entertainment, the funnest of which were clips from the Stewart and Colbert Shows of their teasers announcing the dueling rallies, combining rallies, etc.  It was fun to see the whole progression of the silliness.  There was also music, games, etc.   Even though we were near the stage, we couldn't see it well but the jumbo screen was near and clear.

The whole show was televised on Comedy Central and C-Span.  While Stewart and Colbert did their usual styles of comedy and kept the sanity/fear theme going, there were lots of other surprises.  Keep in mind that two hundred and fifty thousand people showed up with absolutely no idea of what to expect!!  It was only one day before that I found something on the internet that said The Roots and Sheryl Crow would be performing.  In addition to them, were John Legend, the Myth Buster guys, Father Guido Sarducci, Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens, Ozzy Osbourne, the O'Jays, Sam Waterston, Kid Rock, Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples, Karem Abdul Jabar, Tony Bennett......I'm sure I'm forgetting someone.  Anyway, it was great!!  I have to tell you that the high point for me was Cat Stevens singing Peace Train.  He is a long time favorite of mine and I never in a million years would have expected him to be there.....didn't even know that they were letting him in the country again!!  Unfortunately, it was part of a comedy skit with Ozzy Osbourne (Crazy Train) and the O'Jays (Love Train) and he didn't sing the whole song.  That was the only (slight) disappointment of the day (but I've listened to all of his songs on my walks for the last two days).

The entertainment was great, but interacting with everyone was the real joy of the day.  Yesterday I was thinking of all of those people who had signs that seemed so off the wall and I suddenly realized that, regardless of their political leanings or lack thereof, they were probably there just for that feeling of unity, camaraderie and spirit of the day.  The signs were absolutely great - some serious, some silly and some downright baffling.  I really wish I could adequately describe the spirit of the day, but it's beyond me.  All I can say is that if you ever get an opportunity to attend anything like this, please do.  We all need (especially right now) to feel that positive connection to the rest of humanity.  It was reaffirming and wonderful.

Doing an 11 hour train trip two nights in a row was as grueling as I anticipated, and Sunday was a very quiet, slow day, though I bounced back pretty quickly.  It was well worth it and proved to be a better plan than we realized at the time.  I've read several accounts of people trying to get to the location on the metro and it became almost impossible.  Reports are that 825,000 people went through the metro turnstiles, when the typical day is around 350,000!!  We just walked several blocks from Union Station and we were there. Anyway, I'm mostly revived and feeling good about it all.

Below are my photos.  Those in the beginning are my personal photos.  Unfortunately, most of them were taken into the sun or of the jumbo screen and eventually I gave up as I couldn't see what I was getting.  Therefore, I've taken a few  better ones from the web.  The last section is of signs (also from the web), which were priceless.  It's long but goes quickly.....enjoy!  Expand to full screen to better read the signs.

And then there's the election.......what can I say??  One commentator summed it up this morning by saying that over the last 2-3 election cycles, the American people have been sending mixed messages.  They want change, but they want it NOW!  Never mind that it took us years (of complacency) to get in this mess.  That's about all I can say......that I won't regret!!

For the hard core people, other articles of interest (if these links work!!):
My Day at the Rally to Restore Sanity
Arianna Huffington's Takeaway
Robert Reich: The Real Center of American Politics
Rally Goers Converge of Mall
Buddha Diaries: The Rally (a blog account - getting there by metro)