Don’t ever let anyone shut you up.

During the presidential campaign season, the American public acts like an engaged citizenry, as if what they say and do really does have an impact. But after an election ends, so many people retreat from the public forum and bunker down in their isolated private lives. It’s as if winning the election was all that concerned them, as if democracy were nothing more than voting for your preferred celebrity-politician. Not everyone can be so detached, indifferent, and oblivious. Not everyone can pretend that political issues begin and end with elections.

Racism, religious bigotry, xenophobic policies, poverty, unemployment, homelessness, food deserts, toxic dumps in poor communities, lead in drinking water, unaffordable healthcare, underfunded schools, school-to-prison pipeline, militarized police, police abuse, mass incarceration, privatized prisons, war on drugs, military-industrial complex, war on terror wasting trillions of dollars, aggressive US militarism that kills thousands of innocent people a day, US alliance with brutal authoritarian states, pollution being the number one killer in the world, ecosystem destruction, climate change, droughts, refugee crises, corporate takeover of the government, corporations stealing from the commons, endless externalized costs that are beyond calculation and imagination…

…and on and on. None of this ends for those most victimized and harmed. Elections mean very little to those who are silenced, suppressed, disenfranchised, and excluded — other than a fleeting opportunity to express outrage and maybe, just maybe be heard before being dismissed and ignored once again. Yet the comfortable classes momentarily obsess over the team sports of partisan politics and then go on as if none of it actually matters, as if these problems aren’t real, as if it is all just about campaign rhetoric and political talking points. Well, I disagree. Just because social problems are not seen and moral outrage not heard doesn’t mean they stop existing, once the votes are counted and the voters disappear from news reporting of corporate media.

That is all the more reason we must make ourselves be heard. Everyone has a voice. Use it. There are many who are in need of help and no one listens. First listen to the silenced and then add your voice, until the growing noise can’t be ignored. Don’t make excuses about being only one person. The majority of the world’s population who are affected by these problems, as separate individuals, are each only one person. But change happens when people demand that change happens, one voice at a time, until it becomes a roar of defiance. Don’t go quietly along, as so many others suffer. Rather, make the comfortable uncomfortable, until they are forced to acknowledge reality.

There is no other path forward, other than toward growing authoritarianism and other terrible ends. By staying silent, you are choosing a dark path for yourself and your loved ones, for your fellow citizens and the following generations, for your children and grandchildren, for your nieces and nephews. Never stay silent, not even for a moment for there isn’t a moment to lose. The consequences grow by the second, as do the opportunities for change pass us by.

It’s only after an election is over that the majority has their greatest power to force change. This is the moment. The best way to break out of your apathy and isolation is to make your voice heard. Talk to your family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. Talk about things that actually matter and act on them as if they matter. Politics isn’t a game. Lives are at stake, in a literal sense. Your voice is your greatest weapon and tool. Don’t ever let anyone shut you up.

Comedy of Truth and Politics of Comedy

I just finished watching The Campaign. It stars Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. Considering those two, you know the type of humor to expect. It wasn’t a masterpiece of comedic genius or anything, but it was a lovely fantasy about honesty winning in corrupt big money politics.

It would be nicer if that fantasy were a reality, but fantasy has its purposes as well. It is easier to make such fantasies reality, if we can collectively imagine them. Comedy creates the space for imagining what we otherwise would consider absurd, such as honesty in politics.

Comedy is one of the rare mediums where cynicism doesn’t always prevail and that is a good thing. Oddly, a comedy like this is probably a better inspiration for the democratic impulse than all the serious dramas combined, all the serious drams that attempt to portray the dark reality of the problems we face. If we can laugh at our problems, they feel less overwhelming. If we can laugh at the corrupt fools running and ruining our country, then we can stop taking them and their bullshit so seriously.

We need to elect more comedians into politics. Even if the Three Stooges were running Congress, it couldn’t get worse. As for the president, I’d vote for Stephen Colbert. Or if we are to have a woman president, maybe our first one should be Sarah Silverman. Comedians in our country speak more truth than any mainstream politician or news reporter. Instead of a corporate stooge actor like Reagan, we could use a truth-speaking comedian as the leader of the free world.

Besides, politics is already a big show. Since politics is a national pastime and the most popular form of entertainment, it might as well be humorous and amusing.