On Tuesday, we will go to the polls to elect new school board members, mayors, planning commission members, city council members, sheriffs, governors, representatives and senators. We will decide on propositions, and of course, elect a president. Every four years, I spend way too much time reading about and watching politics. This year, I have Nate Silver’s 538 Blog bookmarked (and I followed him in 2008, too. I miss his old website) and I watched all the debates even though I’ve known for years who I am going to vote for in this election.
I vote Democratic 97 percent of the time. I know the two-party system is completely flawed and many people within it are hopelessly corrupt. I remember the days when John McCain and Mitt Romney were both people with whom I didn’t totally agree with, but I didn’t think they were bad men. The Republican Party has shifted so far to the right that each election seems to be a referendum on women’s issues, gay marriage, and immigration. All the issues that get people worked up but distract from the fact that money and insiderism is corrupting every aspect of government and corporate life, on both sides of the aisle and on Wall Street. If you don’t believe me, read this. But I’m never going to vote for someone who says my dear family members (many of whom happen to be gay) can’t have equal protection under the law just because they were born into a minority group. And I’m certainly not going to vote for anyone who thinks women are unable to make decisions about their own healthcare. So here I am, a Democrat for the foreseeable future.
But rather than go into those social issues or campaign finance reform and education and the disproportionate pay at the top of the corporate ladder versus the bottom of it, I will instead talk about why, every two to four years, my political musings lead to lustful thoughts of Bill Maher. Now, I love Jon Stewart. Jon Stewart feels like my brother, or maybe a cousin of whom I am particularly fond. Jon is funny, insightful, well-read and fiercely intelligent. Stephen Colbert is delightful and hilarious. But Bill Maher is sick sexy. He has a streak of ferocious insight and stubbornness, I might even call it meanness that I need a dose of to get through an election year like this one.
It’s not just that Bill says what everyone else is afraid to say, it’s that he’s sure of what he is saying. My basic personality make-up as a youngest sibling, a teacher and a mom, is to think that everyone has a point and we need respectful discourse to encourage everyone’s opinions and ideas. This is my default setting and it is, evidently, to my detriment in this strident loudest-takes-all sport that our political process has become. I need some political outrage this year when the Republican Party is questioning if any woman ever really gets raped. I need Bill Maher’s intelligence and his certitude and yes, even his anger. He doesn’t keep himself in any sort of bubble. Each week on Real Time he surrounds himself with at least one or two conservatives for his panel and most of the time, he even lets them talk. He has English and history degrees from Cornell and even though he’s an atheist, he is half-Catholic and half-Jewish, two faiths known for their rigorous philosophical struggles and debates. He also talks dirty, smokes pot and still looks good in a suit. Not a combination you find often in American life.
I know he’s not perfect. I mean, he’s the person responsible for us knowing who Ann Coulter is and I’m thinking from the slinky dresses she wears on his show, they probably “went out.” (If I think about that too long, the sick sexy completely vanishes.) Given that fact, you could even argue he may have done more harm than good to progressive causes everywhere.
He’s also short, and kind of old for me, but I think in this case it’s definitely “rich 50 is middle class 38.”
But Bill Maher is also just not another pundit. Bill’s unique brand of political commentary, humor and no-bullshit-I’m-not-worried-about-the-sponsors-because-I-don’t-have-any, have talked me off the ledge several times this election season, especially attempting to digest the irony of the person on the science and technology committee believing that women don’t get pregnant when raped. (Obviously Akin has never heard of Bosnia, Nanking or Darfur.)
So I’m praying on Tuesday my president gets re-elected. But if he does and even (God forbid) he doesn’t, I’m praying Bill Maher stays alive and on the air for the next four years to entertain and “inspire” me when I need it. (I just need to keep blocking that Ann Coulter image out of my head.)
Telaina Eriksen holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in The Feminist Press’ Under the Microscope, Hospital Drive, Marco Polo Quarterly, The Truth About the Fact, poemmemoirstory, Recovering the Self, and in other online and print publications. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010 and 2011 and is a fixed-term assistant professor in the Department of English at Michigan State University. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.