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Election Day is our chance to enjoy sanity.

Byline: Dianne Williamson

COLUMN: DIANNE WILLIAMSON

Since returning from Washington, I've been reading news coverage of the "Rally to Restore Sanity" and noticed several things were missed in mainstream media accounts:

Despite crowd estimates ranging from 180,000 to more than 250,000, I can confidently reveal that the rally was attended by a gazillion trillion people, all of whom took the same Metro car that I did.

Based on our Delta flight from Boston, the FAA had apparently issued an advisory that all commuter passengers must be reading either "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" or "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest."

One of the best signs at a rally brimming with funny signs was worn by a dog: "I'm Not a Coyote. I'm You," a dig at Christine O'Donnell's "I'm Not a Witch" commercial.

Here's the thing about Saturday's rally. Despite the crowds that overwhelmed the D.C. transit system and swarmed the National Mall, everyone was friendly and in fine spirits, at times eerily so, especially when the attendees were jammed onto a subway car steaming with bodily odors that easily could fell a bison. We managed to joke and laugh nonetheless, secure in the knowledge that each of us was sharing a common goal that day; namely, to get off the subway car as soon as possible.

We made it to the rally by allowing ourselves to be swept forward by the crowd without our feet once touching the ground. And here I feel compelled to mention my traveling companions, two friends who are relatively normal except when visiting unfamiliar cities, where they take inordinate pride in refusing to ask for directions. This necessitates stopping at every street corner, where they pull out a large, incomprehensible map and frown at it thoughtfully, until eventually lifting their heads and pointing simultaneously in two opposite directions. Meanwhile, I tend to just ask whoever walks by for directions to the Lincoln Memorial. I mean, everyone who lives in Washington knows the location of all the landmarks, but my friends would rather arm themselves with compasses and perhaps sundials, as though searching for Mayan ruins. It tends to waste time, but they seem to enjoy it.

In any case, the rally was great fun. I'm channeling Yogi Berra when I note that many Americans aren't fond of rallies, because so many people showed up for one touted as a rally for people who tend to avoid them.

"Your presence is what I wanted," Jon Stewart told the exuberant crowd from stage, which was built on the opposite end of the Mall from the Lincoln Memorial, where conservative Glenn Beck held the insipid rally that inspired Saturday's semi-serious-but-satirical gathering.

The tone was largely ... ironic. It was a pseudo-political rally, yet it focused on the incivility of politics and poked fun at the notion that politics are all that matter. No one was demanding their country back; they were just requesting more politeness in discourse.

"I had to see this," said Homer Green, publisher of a small weekly newspaper in Turon, Kan. "Everyone thinks we're a bunch of hicks in Kansas. But I believe that we need to be more civil and respectful, and I wanted to be with people who feel the same way I do."

I managed to scam - I mean, secure - a coveted press pass, which enabled me to have an actual conversation with Arianna Huffington, who was accompanied by an entourage the size of a National Football League team. I didn't take notes, but it went something like this:

Me: "Hi!"

Ariannna: "Hello there."

Our hotel outside Washington was teeming with rally goers. In the lounge we met a delightful Southern grandmother from Arkansas, who said she "totally embraced" the rally's message. She also "totally embraced" two shots of tequila in rapid succession, earning her admiring applause from nearby tables. Later we met an Israeli-born physicist who lives in California, so it was only natural that he had once been to Worcester, to visit a friend at WPI.

The signs were one of the highlights. A few of my personal favorites: "People who use hyperbole should be shot;" "Abstinence makes the church grow fondlers;" "I'll respect your opinion as soon as you stop making sh*t up." A woman in Muslim garb waved this one: "I Scare Juan Williams at Airports." Bipartisanship abounded.

Today is Election Day, and I'm still enthralled by the rally because I feel calm and good-humored and no longer fear that, if elected, Christine O'Donnell will change us into newts. This serenity won't last, but our choices will. So go out and vote: Other than poke fun at politics, it's one of the sanest acts we can perform.

Contact Dianne Williamson via e-mail at dwilliamson@telegram.com
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Nov 2, 2010
Words:794
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