Inspired by comedian and late night talk show host Jon Stewart’s Washington, D.C., “Rally to Restore Sanity,” the nonprofit group Restore Sanity Austin will host a satellite rally on the Capitol's south steps on Saturday at 11 a.m. and broadcast it live. Their goal is the same as Stewart's: to attract the “busy majority” — people who are normally too consumed with daily life for lawmakers to hear their voices. The theme is anti-extremism, or as Stewart says, “We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat.”
“We’re pro-sanity and want to have a day for people to come together and encourage people to be civic-minded and have their silent, moderate voices heard,” says Shelley Culbertson, who is organizing the Restore Sanity event in Austin.
The event is inclusive and nonpartisan, says Toula Skiadas, also with Restore Sanity Austin. “We’re not advocating any one side, and we are not telling people who to vote for,” Skidas says.
They expect more than 5,000 people and are spreading word about the rally through Facebook. The event is sponsored by Rock the Vote, and in-kind donations from local companies are providing services to help out. In typical Austin style, local singer Natomi Austin will sing the National Anthem. Speakers at the rally include Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, to get the crowd excited — but not too excited — before cutting to video of Stewart in D.C..
Restore Sanity Austin is urging ralliers to leave hurtful signs at home and to proofread their signs before waving them about. Most important, Culbertson says, is for people to have fun. “I want people to leave having a sense of common ground and feel like they can participate in some way and it doesn’t have to be so serious,” she said.