WASHINGTON — A glimpse at the National Mall on Saturday might suggest that people turned out to voice their opinions on issues ranging from marijuana to immigration, bears to pirates. They waved signs with messages like “my taxes aren’t as high as I am” and “run marathons, not deficits.”
Whatever their motives, approximately 215,000 spectators showed up to witness a lighthearted take on today’s political climate.
Various groups of Penn students — including those sponsored by college houses and the Penn Democrats — attended Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, D.C., Saturday afternoon. The event hosted numerous musical guests, including The Roots, Penn alumnus John Legend, Ozzy Osbourne, Sheryl Crow and Tony Bennett. Along with comedic skits performed by Stewart and Colbert, the rally combined the two political satirists’ abilities “to make us laugh and make us think,” College senior Grant Dubler said.
Presented as a bipartisan event, some students believed it successfully reduced tension between right- and left-wing politicos.
Engineering sophomore Andrew Braunstein admired Stewart’s message of “bringing sanity back to media as a whole,” as opposed to just left- or right-wing media.
“The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker — and perhaps eczema,” Stewart said in his final speech.
Although Stewart and Colbert’s Comedy Central shows attract largely younger viewers, the rally’s audience ranged in terms of age, demographic and ethnic background.
“I was truly shocked to see people who must have been in their 80s or 90s and then people with their kids,” Braunstein said. “I was expecting [the rally] to be a bunch of 20- to 30-year-olds who just watch Comedy Central, but even people who protested Vietnam were there.”
Penn College Republicans did not send a group of students to the rally. According to the organization’s president Peter Terpeluk, an Engineering junior, the event was “clearly political.”
He added that Stewart “might be on Comedy Central, but he is still a political commentator and he still has a point of view.”
Penn makes a point of not backing any group that displays a partisan point of view, he said, adding that it was “counterintuitive” for the University to sponsor trips to the event through the college housing system.
After a series of musical performances and comedic skits, Stewart ended with “a moment, however brief, for some sincerity.”
Among his “intentions” was promoting the idea that “we live now in hard times, not end times.” His closing remarks highlighted his call for reason and sanity in today’s political climate. Using cars entering a tunnel as an example, Stewart noted that setting aside differences is achieved “concession by concession.”
“You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. Oh my God, is that an NRA sticker on your car? Is that an Obama sticker on your car? Well, that’s okay — you go and then I’ll go,” he said.
College sophomore Jake Shuster, who led the Penn Dems-sponsored group, believed Stewart “did a very good job of keeping his speech bipartisan, but still motivating people and exciting voters.”
Shuster added that Penn Dems chose to sponsor a trip to the rally because “we thought this would be a very exciting way to engage students and get them ready for Tuesday’s vote.”Comments powered by Disqus
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