On Oct. 30, a group of Centre students and faculty will attend the Rally to Restore Sanity in Washington, D.C.
According to the website, the Rally to Restore Sanity was organized by Jon Stewart ofThe Daily Show for “the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs.” The idea initially began through the website reddit.com, which proposed that Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report lead a rally in response to Glenn Beck’s own rally to “Restore Honor.”
The event initially received a permit for 25,000 people to gather on the National Mall, but estimates have reached as high as 100,000 attendees.
Colbert will be hosting a counter/joint rally, the March to Keep Fear Alive, but those at Centre intending to take part in the rally have focused in on Stewart’s message of restoring sanity to politics and government.
The trip to Washington is being organized by the Centre Democrats and Centre Republicans clubs.
“We keep seeing this minority of Americans doing crazy things, protesting with extremes. Where are the 90 percent of sane Americans, the rational people who want rational politics? It is a statement: let’s get back to sanity, representing America and ourselves,” said Centre Democrats President Abby Woehrle.
The idea to organize such a trip was formed almost simultaneously with Stewart’s on-air announcement.
Beau Weston, professor of sociology and faculty advisor to the Centre Democrats, decided to attend within minutes.
“The show wasn’t even over and we were already planning,” Woehrle said, who was on Facebook talking to Weston and Centre Republicans President Greg Brooks before the episode finished airing.
“This is an event with my name on it,” Weston, who will accompany students to the rally, said.
For him, the rally is about stepping away from extremes and fear mongering.
“My substantive claim is that things are actually pretty good, and the world would be a better place if we started from there, then had a reasonable discussion about how to improve,” Weston said.
Woehrle agreed: “All these major news stations use fear to keep people motivated. Stop scaring everybody and get back to reality.”
Though Centre’s involvement in the rally began with just Woehrle, Weston and Brooks, it has rapidly grown. “We keep having more and more people sign up. There are now 64 on the official list,” Woehrle said.
Although some details are still being worked out, both clubs have committed substantial funding towards subsidizing the costs of the trip, and they petitioned at the Oct. 7 Student Government Association meeting to try to cut back student expenses even further or possibly remove them entirely.
“We currently have one charter bus and 12 rooms reserved,” said Brooks, who reserved three more rooms that day.
The bus seats 56. The group will drive to the rally following classes Friday night and return on Sunday.
Despite their fundamental differences, the Democrat and Republican organizations at Centre have recently worked together on several policies and events such as voting registration and a rivalry kickball match for Oct. 26.
“We debate a lot, and joke,” Woehrle said of the relationship between the opposing organizations.
Brooks recognizes that some might think it is odd that Republicans want to attend this seemingly liberal-oriented event.
“It’s about bringing sanity back, bringing decorum back to the debate. Probably most attending will be liberal college students, but if we can show that not all Republicans are stiff old white people, we’re excited to take that opportunity,” Brooks said.
Brooks and Woehrle believe that the rally will be beneficial to students beyond providing a fun weekend.
“It will benefit the campus as a whole and promote discussion when we get back,” Brooks said.
They also hope that the rally will encourage people to become more involved. “I think people on campus have political opinions, but they’re not public about it. Hopefully it will make an impact on all these people and encourage them to vote in the Nov. 2 election,” Woehrle said.
In the excitement leading up to the rally, all parts of campus are becoming involved. The divide between first-years, sophomores, juniors and seniors who will attend the rally has been fairly even, said Woehrle.
First-year Karissa Jackson found out about the trip after joining Centre Democrats.
“I think it’s neat, because Centre is making it so easy for us to be a part of something that people rarely go to. They did a good job of letting people know what’s going on and providing this opportunity,” Jackson said.
Jackson also commends the ability of the two organizations to work together for the event.
“It looks like we have all this rivalry, but at the end of the day I think Democrats and Republicans have some sort of bond because we are participating in something we believe in, even though we’re not believing the same things,” Jackson said.
The rally also serves as an example of the power of the Internet and televised satire in today’s political climate.
“I think it’s interesting because it was conceived on the Internet and driven through Internet action over Comedy Central as media pundit,” Brooks said. “It speaks to the sway that Colbert and Stewart hold as modern day political satirists.”
Political intent aside, students expect the rally to be a fun time. Current and former students and faculty will be using the rally as a meeting ground.
“Alums in Washington have been contacted,” Weston said. Brooks and Jackson also mentioned joining friends from other colleges and universities at the event.
Centre students will be easy to identify at the rally: the organizers of the trip intend to distribute t-shirts specifically designed for the event.
“I think it’s something I will be able to look back on—that, when I was in college, we had a great group of people that went to this rally,” Woehrle said.