Sanity Marches on Washington—Well, We Weren’t Really Marching, it was More Like a Leisurely Stroll

A “Pintriot’s” Toned-down View of the Rally for Sanity and/or Fear: A Nice Day and/or Terrifying


Fans of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report” gathered Saturday to share their love of sanity. And fear. (Lucy Sutton/The Observer)

Published: November 3, 2010

In August at the Restoring Honor Rally in Washington D.C., Glenn Beck asked, “Where have all the founding fathers gone?” On Oct. 30 Thomas Jefferson reincarnated is nowhere in sight. Glenn Beck tried easing the frustration of the attendees with patriotism; Bill O’Reilly tries easing the frustration of his viewers with intimidating intellect; their counterpart, Jon Stewart, addresses other angry Americans with comedy.

In the film “Sullivan’s Travels,” the depression era protagonist realizes that amidst conflict, one needs comedy. Jon Stewart is the comedy I need in my recession era. The political satire of the “The Daily Show” succinctly addresses our jaded hopes for reform and objective news with unrelated Hollywood guests and ridiculous clips.

I am overshadowed by loose-tongued haters of socialism who host Tea Party rallies and Hitlerize politicians to express dissidence. I may not be in need of an American revolutionary, but I can still be a patriot. In addition, although I cannot contribute any intellect to a discussion about Freddie Mac (whom I thought was a person), I am also not a complete pinhead. In the words of Stewart, I am a “pintriot” and a de facto American who went to the Rally to Restore Sanity in order to express my views (through a costume) and my need for comic relief.

Some of us went to the Rally to experience a “Daily Show” love fest, a sort of Woodstock but with John Oliver fans. Others hoped to be instilled with activism by comedians we take more seriously than the White House press secretary.

I did not wake up at four in the morning to take the Huffington Post bus in Queens just because I think Jon Stewart’s funny (I reserve that simple and undemanding enjoyment for Anderson Cooper). I went to the Rally because these same people probably finished their midterms recently and then proceeded to watch “Robot Chicken” like I did. However, more importantly, I went there to “take it down a notch for America.”

At the Rally, I felt encouraged to take off my headphones, pause my Passion Pit song and acknowledge Sarah Palin’s popularity. I needed to recognize that there is noise around me. Whether they are the sounds of defensive liberals, disgruntled moderates or anxious conservatives. Even the Groucho Marx posters reflected a residual discomfort some have with Marxism.

I grew up in a country (probably unbeknownst to Christine O’Donnell) where others and I with different views have the freedom to express ourselves. For example, I might like “Peace Train” and someone else might prefer “Crazy Train.” I believe we are all “pintriots” who love our country and who enjoy singing along with Tony Bennett to “America the Beautiful.” But, we are living amidst a recession, foreign wars, an overlooked oil spill, a broken education system and a healthcare debate all in a declining global power. As a result, we the people who feel helpless are in need of some solace.

Glenn Beck might ask me to reflect on the romantic hero that Jefferson was. Bill O’Reilly might thwart me with information I cannot grasp or defend. Jon Stewart, however, asks me to try and talk about the next Islamophobe. Then, when my hope for sanity fails in my face, I make a joke to save me from myself. I need comic relief and I need Jon Stewart, and that is why I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity.