Bored on the 4th of July
I am currently off for the first day since May 27th (started writing this on July 4th, published on July 9th). I wish I could report that I was touring the country’s comedy clubs, but I have focused the last 16 years of my comedy career trying to become good at stand up comedy, which is a way of saying “I need to make money.” The pattern basically goes like this:
- Get booked for a bunch of clubs getting paid at 1988 wages for whatever spots have not been claimed for the mediocrities most of today’s “headliners” bring with them to clubs
- Realize that if you have 52 weeks of work at those rates you could survive barely but would have all that free time to work on comedy writing and related endeavors to hopefully improve your work and standing in the business
- Realize 15 seconds later that you only have 17 weeks/weekends of work in a good year
- Find the best work you can for someone who has postponed (and possibly killed) the hope of a real, non-comedy career. Must take work in those 30+ weeks that pays enough (thus requiring heavy work hours that preclude writing and a life) to support the ungrateful, illiterate goth teen of a stand up career that you are still trying to raise.
- Blog about it. Eat cookies.
So I have been sitting in a law firm in midtown for 38 days in a row, unable to do anything comedy related. Or really anything life related. The only breaks for me have been Big Little Lies on Sundays and laundry on Saturday nights (the laundry rom in my building is surprisingly empty on Saturdays at 10pm) Fortunately I have kept my creative side of my brain by pursuing 2020 politics and tweeting speech fragments to myself during breaks in my quioxotic quest to get Governor Jay Inslee of Washington (state) elected president. Maybe its just my affinity for people with undeniable talent and credentials, with J in their name, who America seems to be inexplicably rejecting. Maybe it’s just the idea that if you are going to create great work that will go unappreciated, unheard and/or unread you might as well do it for a great presidential candidate than in comedy clubs for teeming masses of navel gazing, non-reading, culturally ignorant, cell-phone staring dregs who would sell their children to starfu*k a fecal sample from the Kardashians (and that is just the other comedians I am writing about – the audiences can often be worse, with exceptions carved out for every audience member who has bought one or more of my albums).
In this age of convenience (written through the lens of stand up comedy by a brilliant commentator HERE) to paraphrase JFK, “I waste my life trying to write things that matter or make people laugh, not because it is easy, but because it is haaaaaaaahd.” So while I was sitting, making my way through Jay Inslee’s Evergreen Economy plan during work breaks, I started writing the following on my phone, gave it more structure on America’s birthday and finished it on the 9th of July (and my bigger set of tips and strategies for Inslee at the Detroit debates can be read HERE). I have no idea how this speech could be used or given, but I still think it makes a lot of good points with a lot of good lines and rhetoric punches so feel free to use some or all of it Inslee campaign (and then holler at me communications team!). OK – here it is:
THE FOUR PILLARS OF THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
Women’s Health. Labor. Civil Rights. The Environment. These are pillars of the modern Democratic Party. In recent years the Democratic party, our party, has paid lip service to some of these pillars. Pillars that for so long have been the heart and soul of our party. Pillars that, if we didn’t know before, certainly know now, require constant vigilance. We are the party that protects women’s health and choice. We are the party that protects the environment. We are the party that stands for union labor, collective bargaining and a higher minimum wage. And we are the party that since Lyndon Johnson has been the party of protecting and expanding civil rights for the people of this country. Make no mistake – that is what our party stands for, however imperfectly at times. But now is the time where we must stand taller than ever for these things. Comparing favorably to Donald Trump, a man whose contempt for our institutions and traditions, is only exceeded by his incompetence as a chief executive, is no great feat. And offering a host of plans and ideas and passionate speeches is good, but this country needs a leader not only with great ideas and consistent, forward-thinking, progressive ideals, but one that has the experience and leadership in implementing those policies to make Americans’ lives better. We know that being better than Trump isn’t even a sufficient moral baseline – we must be the best WE can be and nothing less than that will be enough. And I think to move forward we must take some responsibility for where we are as a country.
We allowed a President in office that, thanks to the rubber stamp of the most amoral and devious Senate Leader in modern memory, has flooded our judiciary from the district courts all the way to the Supreme Court. Some of those judges are woefully unqualified other than their willingness to adhere to Fox News’ version of jurisprudence. Other judges have been academically and professionally qualified, but have demonstrated moral failings that should have stopped them from serving on our highest Court, especially as deciding votes concerning women’s health. The name Merrick Garland may be a sick badge of honor for Mitch McConnell, but it will also remain a stain on the history of the United States Senate. Now we may not have voted for Mitch McConnell or Donald Trump, but does that absolve us completely? Did we vote for a candidate with the best chance to defeat Trump or did we sit on a progressive high horse thinking Hillary Clinton would win anyway? Did we encourage friends and family members to vote or to register to vote? And by the way have we donated to Amy McGrath who wants to make sure Mitch McConnell never sits in the United States Senate again? The threats we face from the Trump-McConnell Devil’s Bargain, from our courts to our communities to the very air we breathe demand a greater collective commitment than we have demonstrated in recent years.
I have been and always will be a defender of a woman’s full autonomy over her health and her choices regarding her body. I understand this is an issue with strong emotions on both sides, but frankly I am embarrassed that at this point in 2019 we are still debating and legislating to what degree a woman in the United States of America can control her own body. I voted against the Hyde Amendment while in Congress because it was the right thing to do. I have not just spoken or fought for gender pay equity – I signed it into law in Washington State as governor. My commitment, as well as our entire party’s commitment, to women’s health and women’s equality must be total and it must be fought for every day. We have many people doing their part to protect and strengthen this legacy, but ask yourself – are we doing enough? Could we do more?
We allowed our commitment to labor to waver, once a bedrock of Democratic support. Are we absolved because Trump outright lies to them about what jobs are coming and going? On our watch we have seen right to work laws, which might as well be called “Right to Kill Union” laws thrive. Time has always shown that the stronger our unions are, the stronger our middle class is. The party of Trump has been waging a war for decades on unions, not because they care about the rights of labor, but because they cared how labor voted. Pitting states against states in a race to the bottom, cutting benefits and fighting against a higher minimum wage – these are the policies of the party that has given us so called “Right to Work” laws. They want you to believe that immigrants are the source of your oppression. So they promise you jobs that are going away, while simultaneously suppressing the jobs of your town’s future. That is because to them the future is a spreadsheet next fiscal quarter. To me the future is whether your son or daughter will have the same opportunity to work in the same town or city as you.
I am the Governor of a state that has the highest minimum wage in the country and I have fought for union labor my whole career. And most importantly, as people brand me the climate candidate, as some token acknowledgement of the importance of the climate crisis at best and a shorthand dismissal of my campaign at worst, know that the centerpiece of my Evergreen Economy Plan is a commitment to, and a reinvigoration of, organized labor. Millions of jobs will be created because they are necessary to reshape our economy and save our planet. Under a Jay Inslee administration labor will not be left behind or given token acknowledgement – it will be the driving force at the head of a new 21st century economy. My state of Washington has been thriving for both businesses and workers and my plans plainly put workers at the center of a new industrial age for America.
We need middle class workers, and union workers to know that we still have their back and are the party to strengthen their future. We have many people doing their part to protect and strengthen this legacy, but ask yourself – are we doing enough? Could we do more?
Over just the last 3 years we have seen some of our front line communities further marginalized as they fight for their survival amidst voter suppression, criminal justice bias, and the stripping of basic rights, even the ability to serve this country in combat based on gender identity. Donald Trump has shown the world our worst side on these issues. And now we confront the issue of uninhibited, partisan gerrymandering at the same time as Donald Trump threatening to defy the Supreme Court and put a question on the census demanding citizenship status. Make no mistake the census question is a hideously perfect triple threat of the Trump regime: use a tactic with racially biased implications, to corrupt the political system, while ignoring the rule of law. The Trump regime has been disdainful at its best and hateful at its worst toward people of color, women, LGTBQ people and, most perniciously of all, to immigrants whether they be Muslims from around the world or children from Central America. Whatever Trump property they choose to turn into a book-less library when his presidency is over should have the quote “Very fine people on both sides” over the doorway and pictures of children in cages filling its hallways, because that is the legacy he will leave this country to confront. Diversity, in all its forms, is one of America’s greatest strengths and what has helped make this country both a leader globally and a beacon of hope and opportunity for people around the world. We will not just have to resist Trump now, but will have to work hard to restore America as a moral leader when he is gone.
We have many people doing their part to fight this attack on the values of America and the demonization of the people who come here to help themselves, as well as our nation, but ask yourself – are we doing enough? Could we do more?
And yes, I have fought and now hope to lead the fight against the climate crisis which can be America’s latest and possibly greatest opportunity to lead the world, but only if we confront it with the courage, the moral force and most importantly the will that only the people of the United States can muster. There is no longer a debate on the science on this issue. The only debate now is do we confront the issue head on with a plan to make the world healthier and make our economy a leader for the next century or refuse to act because the Republican Party clings to the cash of the Koch brothers while asking its voters to cling to a vision of yesterday and ignore the promise of tomorrow.
We have many people doing their part to protect the environment, but ask yourself – are we doing enough? Could we do more?
The threats to women, to civil rights, to our strong labor class and to the health of our planet are at stake. If there has been one silver lining to the gold-plated presidency of Donald Trump it is that he has shown that the day of Not In My Backyard Progressivism has got to stop. Defeating the problems we face, from a wannabe dictator to the destruction of our environment requires both a resolve and also a sense of unified purpose, that we have not shown as a nation recently, but that I have to believe we still possess. As Governor I have shown how fighting climate change and fighting for the middle class can lead to a thriving economy for businesses and workers, as well as a cleaner environment for all of their children and grandchildren to enjoy. Protecting women’s rights and promoting civil rights are two of the many reasons why Washington state is considered the best state in the country by so many metrics. But this is not just about my record as a legislator and governor. This is deeply personal. My father was a high school biology teacher and coach and from an early age he instilled in me an appreciation of the world entrusted to us. And as I look at my three grandkids, my three favorite people in the world, I believe it is my duty, not as a governor, but as a grandfather to ensure that my grandkids have a country that is healthy, just and prosperous. I’m running for President because I want that for them and believe that with your help and commitment we can make it a reality.