I booked my ticket and hotel room for the Rally to Restore Sanity the day it was announced. There were some clues of it happening on Reddit once the DonorsChoose campaign kicked off (where Colbert sent a personal message to Reddit when the donation total blew past $100k in 24 hours), so I was prepared when it was announced. Once it was announced, however, it was pretty obvious that nobody really knew what this rally would actually accomplish. Was it just to talk about how the level of political discourse had gotten completely out of hand? Was it to mock Glenn Beck’s 8/28 rally? Was it to drive youth turnout to the 2010 midterm elections? Or was it just an opportunity for fans of The Daily Show to meet up?
The truth is a blend of all of those, with different ratios depending on who you talk to. The event itself was rife with comedy and music. The signs and costumes were hilarious and well executed demonstrations of apathy and discontent with the process. The people themselves were extremely nice and polite. It was positive, not negative. It was nationalist, not political. And even if Stewart started his rally wrap-up speech with a rhetorical question of “what exactly was this?”, the message was clear, as it was when the event was announced: “take it down a notch, for America”.
Most of all, it was a wonderful vacation away from the political rhetoric that tends to get ratcheted up to its most extreme in the days before an election.