I think it’s the duty of the comedian to find out where the line is drawn and cross it deliberately.— George Carlin,
The last vote that George Carlin said he cast in a presidential race was for George McGovern in 1972.
When Richard Nixon, who Carlin described as a member of a sub-species of humanity, overwhelmingly defeated McGovern, the comedian gave up on the political process.
“Now, there’s one thing you might have noticed I don’t complain about: politicians,” he explained in a routine that challenged all the premises of today’s half-a-loaf reformers. “Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don’t fall out of the sky. They don’t pass through a membrane from another reality. They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens. This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It’s what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain’t going to do any good; you’re just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it’s not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here… like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There’s a nice campaign slogan for somebody: ‘The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.'”
Needless to say, George Carlin was not on message for 2008’s “change we can believe in” election season.
His was a darker and more serious take on the crisis – and the change of consciousness, sweeping in scope and revolutionary in character, that was required to address it.
Carlin may have stopped voting in 1972. But America’s most consistently savage social commentator for the best part of a half century, who has died at age 71, did not give up on politics.
In recent years, in front of audiences that were not always liberal, he tore apart the neo-conservative assault on liberty with a clarity rarely evidenced in the popular culture.
Recalling George Bush’s ranting about how the endless “war on terror” is a battle for freedom, Carlin echoed James Madison’s thinking with a simple question: “Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?”
Carlin gave the Christian right – and the Christian left – no quarter. “I’m completely in favor of the separation of Church and State,” Carlin said. “My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.”