Rally to Restore Sanity/March to Keep Fear Alive: Why They are Going

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every day at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from political conversations on WNYC. 

Tens of thousands are expected in the nation's capital on Saturday for Comedy Central's Rally to Restore Sanity and March to Keep Fear Alive. Daily Show host Jon Stewart frames his event as a non-partisan effort to reclaimation civil discourse from extremist rhetoric, but many people on their way to D.C. seem to have their own understanding of the rally as a decidedly liberal or progressive effort. Brian Lehrer Show listeners weighed in about what they expect and why they are going. 

David Carr, media columnist for the business section of the New York Times, talked about what to expect at the rally and how it will change Jon Stewart's standing as a comedian. 

We are very much on new ground. I don't think there is a precedent for having satire on the mall, right in the nation's capital...How will we know if they succeed? Will we all wake up Sunday morning feeling just a little bit more sane?

By moving from television to a live event, and by stepping so clearly into political discourse, Stewart takes some risk, Carr said.

It puts him into a different media terrain. He'll be fed into the media wood chipper to a certain extent.

Carr pointed out that all the musical performers are well-known progressives and suggested that rather than being a nonpartisan event, the rally may turn into something of a get-out-the-vote effort for progressives. 

Caller Sophie from Astoria agreed.

I think they have to say it's not political, but I think its pretty clear Jon Stewart supports the president and a lot of us do. ...We need to counter the Tea Party.

Josette in New Jersey may be a liberal, but she said she's heading to D.C. because she's sick of fear mongering and extremism from all sides.

I'm hoping for a lot of fun, but I believe it's a political event....I think there is fear on both sides. I heard plenty of fear from the liberal side, especially during the last presidency...I think it's all getting way out of control.

RJ from Prospect Heights wrote on the Brian Lehrer Show comments page that attending a rally is just the beginning if you want to make serious political change. 

I hope that people who are going as a form of activism don't stop there. Going to a demo is a relatively passive form of activism, only a step above check writing. We need people who find a cause they believe in and spend time on it.

Listen to the entire conversation on The Brian Lehrer Show, and tell us what you make of the rally.