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Local version of ‘Sanity’ rally draws hundreds

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A "Rally to Restore Sanity" was held at the state Capitol yesterday, inspired by a rally in Washington, D.C., led by comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Tony Stalter, left, Chong "Z," Dagny Cooper and Wendell Yamada held signs jesting at sign holders who take themselves too seriously.

About 350 people attended the Honolulu version of the "Rally to Restore Sanity" yesterday to voice their displeasure at the fiery rhetoric and name-calling that have marked this political season.

The official theme, both here and at the national rally in Washington, D.C., was "Take it down a notch."

Entertainment came from musicians and comedians whose strongest message was to go vote on Tuesday, and the most pressing issue for most was finding a shady spot with a view of the stage.

Comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, who organized the rally on the National Mall in Washington, attended by tens of thousands, insisted that they were not pushing any political agendas other than to urge candidates and those passionate about their politics to keep their rhetoric civil.

Those at the Honolulu rally, many of them Stewart and Colbert fans, echoed the sentiment.

Maunawili resident Susie White, 58, who described herself as a political "pragmatist," said she represents the 80 percent of Americans who believe in civility and the notion that discussing issues calmly can lead to solutions.

"You’ve got the ones on the far left who are saying all of the Republicans are evil or they’re all idiots, and you have the ones on the right saying all liberals hate America," White said. "We need to work together … and we need to focus on the issues."

James Kuloloio, 45, of Wailuku, said he was in Honolulu to attend the rally and another event.

"There’s so much negative campaigning from both sides, and I really don’t care for negative campaigning," said Kuloloio, a Democrat. "Especially here. That’s fine on the mainland."

Punahou seniors Andrew Wei and Ian Yoon, both downtown residents, described themselves as political conservatives.

Yoon, 18, will be voting in his first general election Tuesday, while Wei, 17, will have to wait two more years.

"With all of this political nonsense that’s going on, we can’t really get stuff done," Wei said. "I think the rally was to show us that instead of politicians just yelling at each other and being split just between political lines, there are some bipartisan issues that need to be addressed."

Local organizers of the rally said they were mostly strangers who found each other through friends or on Facebook and realized no one else had stepped up to hold a "Rally to Restore Sanity" here.

It was obvious that most in the group had no experience with rallies, political or otherwise. A big reason why the event began a half-hour late was because volunteers were trying to figure out how to set up the borrowed tent.

Dan Hartenstein, a Honolulu financial planner, said he was pleased with the turnout. He and another organizer footed the bill for the hiring of off-duty sheriffs for security, renting a sound system and buying insurance, but were hoping to be reimbursed through donations.

Eight candidates showed up, including U.S. Senate candidate Cam Cavasso, U.S. House hopefuls John Willoughby and Colleen Hanabusa, and City Council rivals Stanley Chang and Richard Turbin.


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