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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Rally’s message in Riverfront Park: Keep sanity alive

Local attendees join in on D.C. event

Those attending the Rally to Restore Sanity on Saturday  got wet watching from the steps outside the INB Performing Arts Center.  (Dan Pelle)

After being bombarded by political attack ads from both sides in one of the most contentious elections in years, some Spokane-area residents are fed up with all the “insanity.”

Some 200 people gathered at noon Saturday at the Riverfront Park Floating Stage for the Rally to Restore Sanity, Spokane’s version of Jon Stewart’s Washington, D.C., rally. The event, held just three days before Tuesday’s election, was organized by Spokane Democrats. It combined comedy acts and political pep talks to send a message: Be reasonable. Take things down a notch.

Speakers and attendees called for civility and an end to the nasty rhetoric and hyperpartisan punditry they say has taken hold in American politics. Above all, they called for sanity from all sides. Using inside voices.

Stewart said the rally is for average people who do not have the time – or the attention-grabbing theatrics – to be heard in the political sphere.

“We have seen these folks – the loud folks – over the years dominate our national conversation on our most important issues,” Stewart said on the Sept. 16 edition of his Comedy Central program, “The Daily Show.”

Stewart called the rally “a clarion call for rationality.”

Groups around the country held their own versions of the D.C. Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

Rallygoers in Spokane denounced scare tactics employed by some that create a climate of fear. And they laughed while they were doing it.

Several politically disillusioned people carried signs with slogans protesting the present state of American politics.

“No more ‘Us vs. Them,’ ” one read. Another: “Sane people unite!”

Rally speakers included state Sen. Chris Marr – who is locked in an ugly and expensive race against Republican challenger Michael Baumgartner – and comedian Paula Poundstone.

Although Stewart and his cohort Stephen Colbert refrained from taking political sides on their D.C. stage, there were political undertones at Spokane’s rally, where attendees seemed to be mostly left-leaning.

One person carried a sign that read “The only thing to fear is Fox.” Greg Youmans, 53, of Loon Lake, Wash., wore American Revolution-style garb and carried a sign calling tea-partiers hypocrites.

But despite the political undertones, the main message of the rally was not lost.

Jen Garrison-Stuber’s sign, which read “I may not agree with you, but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler,” was a big hit among the crowd.

Garrison-Stuber said we are wasting energy on arguing instead of working together to find real solutions.

“Politics are so shrill and I think people are talking past each other,” she said. “I think we need more moderation and more sanity in politics.”

Cale Lively carried a sign prescribing six tenets of a healthy democracy: reason, logic, debate, civility, clarity and dissent.

“I don’t think the principles are defined by party lines,” he said. “I think our country has lost sight of these things.”