Put the United States of America’s big, fat political ass on a diet. Lose that drooping deficit. Slim those spreading entitlement programs. Firm up that flabby pair of butt cheeks that are the Senate and the House. Having had a lot of fun with what politicians do, P J O’Rourke now has a lot of fun with what should be thought about those politicians. Nothing good, to be sure.
Instead of starting with deep political thinkers of yore such as Hume, Locke, and John Stuart Mill, in his new book, DON’T VOTE — It Just Encourages the Bastards, O’Rourke starts with a party game of late-night giggle sessions in all-girls boarding schools: “Kill, F@#%, Marry.” Pick three men — or, in O’Rourke’s version, three political ideologies, ie, Democrat, Republican, and Independent (aka Confused). Then you choose which to terminate with extreme prejudice, which to go for a roll in the hay, and which to settle down with permanently for a boring life in the suburbs.
This astute tool of political analysis works on the parts of government as well as on the political thinking that led to those parts: kill the Department of Education, screw Social Security, and marry the Armed Forces. The same for political policies: screw the bailout, marry a balanced budget, and kill health care reform before it kills you.
O’Rourke explores the basis of American democracy — the power, freedom, and responsibility that are the “Kill, F@#%, Marry” of liberty and self-rule. He favors — reluctantly, he admits — responsibility.
He goes on to examine the hilarious irresponsibility of America’s political establishment on every issue, from the woes of nation building to the financial crisis (“The best investment I’ve made lately? I left a $20 bill in the pocket of my tweed jacket last spring, and I just found it”), the bailout, health care reform (“Something doesn’t add up. Politicians are telling me that I can smoke, drink, gain two hundred pounds, then win an iron man triathlon at age ninety-five”), the stimulus package, climate change (“There’s not a god-damn thing you can do about it ... There are 1.3 billion people in China and they all want a Buick”), trade imbalance, the end of the American automobile industry, U.S. foreign policy and the Family of Nations (“Uncle Russia’s out on parole, drunk, unemployed, and likely to kill some folks next door again soon”), campaign finance reform, gun control, No Child Left Behind (“What if they deserve to be left behind?”), and pretty much everything else under the sun.