“I’m sane as heck and I’m probably going to respect your opinion.”
That zinger, posted on the website citizen.org, seems out of place in this season of “mad as hell” politics, but it could serve as a motto for “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity,” to be held at the National Mall in Washington D.C. on Oct. 30.
With more than 141,000 people already signed up on Facebook to attend — and the blessing of no less than Oprah Winfrey — the gathering has quickly touched a nerve among those increasingly alienated by the nation’s political polarization.
And this new face of moderation could well be Stewart.
Political consultant Evan Stavisky said it’s too soon to know what impact the rally will have on the national discourse. But Stewart is without a doubt disrupting a narrative that has been dominated by the Tea Party.
“Throughout the country there’s been a gap where Republicans are much more likely to vote than Democrats, so if a contrasting message like this generates enthusiasm, yes, it will have an impact,” Stavisky said.
Alex Mizrahi, 28, of the Lower East Side, is planning to rent a car and go with friends.
“Most rallies bring out extremists, but this is for fans of comedians and fans of logic and common sense,” he said.
Largely seen as a parody of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” event in August and pegged as “the million clown march” by one commentator, the jocular jamboree has been described by Stewart as a “clarion call for rationality.”
Stephen Colbert, of course, has announced a competing “Keep Fear Alive!” rally on his Comedy Central show that has already attracted 10,000 Facebook fans.
“It’s good to see a rally that encourages political discourse with humor, as opposed to fear and anger,” said political expert Joe Reubens, speaking of Stewart’s rally.
Allen Feldman, an associate professor in the department of media, culture and communication at New York University, cautioned that the rallies are a cheap distraction.
“It’s not going to fix any of our long-term national problems,” he said.
(with Tim Herrera)