RAGELESS IN SEATTLE >>>
Times are tough. The Weekly Volcano can't dispatch correspondents across the country at the drop of a hat. But much like Jon Stewart's Daily Show, which routinely employs greenscreen to fake stand-up news reports from overseas, WV editor Matt Driscoll can, just barely, afford to send me to Seattle.
A Maple Valley building inspector named Jim Baum and Marjorie Osterhout, a Madrona mom, organized the satellite Rally to Restore Sanity event as a nonpartisan street party Saturday morning. It's hard to gauge numbers from a scattered crowd whispering in unison, but my hunch gibes with news reports that enumerated our attendance in the low thousands. What those reports don't convey is how much fun it all was, at least till the weather collapsed halfway through.
To put it baldly, this was an event for which ambivalent voters assembled to watch TV in unison; what we saw was a silly impersonation of Glenn Beck's knuckleheaded misappropriation of a civil rights march. It'd be easy to dismiss the gathering as a jokey pep rally for Democrats, but what of matching events in red cities like Kansas City and Boise? Looking around at a crowd of Tully's latte drinkers in red, white, and blue, I'd be hard pressed to predict who'd be voting for whom-only that we will be voting, and that we hate negative campaign ads and robo-calls. Organizers handed out dozens of free signs urging "THINK FOR YOURSELF" with what I'm guessing was intentional irony.
Westlake Center was full by 9 a.m. Hipster grannies bopped in place to the Beasties' "So What'cha Want." Apparently folks thought there'd be a prize for Most Dispassionate Sign; my favorites included the aforementioned "Rageless in Seattle," "CHILL," "Too Poor to Buy a Politican," "I'm for the Separation of Church + Hate," "I Don't Really Have a Political Message So I Drew a Bunny," and "Bring Back Crystal Pepsi!" The first cheer of the day was earned by Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," but that felt less like a Clinton campaign moment and more like a shout-out to Glee. Perhaps the dominant symbols of the morning were joyfully waved American flags and dozens of yellow balloons reading simply, "Enough."
Dave Ross of KIRO, David Crowe, and Kermit Apio were the standouts among half a dozen local comedians. Ross led the crowd in a whispered chant of "Take ... it ... down," the "it" in question being the volume, for once, rather than the system. "I can hear you!" he chided. "We think it's time for people who make the most sense to make the most noise," he explained, "provided we don't do it in Belltown after 10 p.m."
Of course, we were in King County, where gay marriage and legalized pot are conventional ideas, but in general, no one wanted to root for any particular stance. One could feel the crowd's energy flagging when Rep. Jim McDermott even hinted the predominantly Democratic crowd should vote for Democrats. We were more excited to learn rally supporters raised $22,000 for DonorsChoose.org, an online charity for education.
Sprinkles expanded into full-sized raindrops about two hours in, local speakers talked through the musical acts, and only a vast communal "moment of Zen" prevented riotous indignation about the all-too-frequent buffering glitches in the satellite feed. Be that as it may, Seattle's Rally to Restore Sanity was a hoot, and an encouraging reminder of the fact that if there were a moderate, rational political party, we'd probably all jump ship from our existing parties to join it.
Hey, you think maybe that's why there's no such thing?
Nah ... That's just cynical.