Don't Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards

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Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010 - Humor - 275 pages
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"The free market is a bathroom scale. We may not like what we see when we step on the bathroom scale, but we can't pass a law making ourselves weigh 165. Liberals and leftists think we can."

"Given the complete dominance of politics by Committee Brain, the wonder is that anything gets done, and the horror is that it does. What government accomplishes is what you'd expect from a committee. `A camel is a seeing-eye dog designed by a committee and available free with government grants to the halt and the lame."

"The most sensible request we make of government is not `Do Something!' but `Quit it!'"

"We have the cow of economic freedom. Do we take the cow to market and trade her for the magic beans of bailout and stimulus? When we climb that beanstalk we're going to find a giant government at the top. Are we going to be as lucky as Jack the giant killer was? I'm not sure Jack himself was that lucky with his giant killing. My guess is that Jack spent years being investigated by giant subcommittees and now Jack's paying a giant tax on his beanstalk bonus."

"I caught my six-year-old, Buster, playing `health care provider' with one of the little girls in his first-grade class. They were filling out toy forms fully clothed."

"We baby boomers are a pathetic bunch. And it didn't start with the Beatles, marijuana, and the pill. Recall the coonskin cap. I wore mine to school. Children of previous eras may have worn coonskin caps, but they had to eat the raccoons first."

"I believe in original sin, and politics may be its name."---P.J. O'Rourke

Red State. Blue State. Republicans. Democrats. Bailout. Stimulus. Health Care Reform. Blah blah blah. Has there ever been a moment where politics have sucked any more?

Don't Vote-It Just Encourages the Bastards is a brilliant, disturbing, hilarious, and ultimately sobering look at why politics and politicians are a necessary evil-but only just barely necessary. P.J. presents his Sex, Death, and Boredom Theory of Politics, which breaks the social contract down to power, freedom, and responsibility by using a party game, kill, F@#k, Marry, more typically found in late-night giggle sessions at all-girls boarding schools.

With this tripartite lens of politics, O'Rourke looks at 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 goddamn 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.

His findings: Put the country'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, which are the Senate and the House.

Read P.J. O'Rourke on the pathetic nature of politics and laugh through your tears or-what the hell-just laugh.

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Q. Have you read this author before this book?
A. No. His name was a blank to me, though he has written thirteen prior books.
Q. So why did you read this one?
A. I'm not into politics; in fact, I'm one of those who doesn't vote. But I did read an Ann Coulter book recently, and in one of the reviews of her book someone mentioned O'Rourke. The person said he was humorous. This book was on the new books shelf at my local library, so I picked it up and read it.
Q. Was it humorous?
A. O'Rourke, who identifies himself as a print journalist and baby boomer and father of three small children, has a clever style and is willing to make fun of himself. Few journalists or commentators, liberal or conservative, will make fun of themselves. He made some other humorous remarks, but it was not the kind of book that made me laugh out loud. I just kind of snickered every now and then, like, "What a clever fellow."
Q. Who makes you laugh out loud?
A. Dave Barry. The difference between him and O'Rourke, I think, is that Dave never takes himself too seriously, and O'Rourke tries hard not to do that either, but still, he is trying to get a point across, so in the end he can't really make fun of it all, like Dave can.
Q. So what was the point O'Rourke was trying to get across?
A. Actually, I can't say for sure, because he's rather amorphous, that is, he takes different shapes depending on the topic. And his topics go chapter by chapter, from gun laws to terrorism to campaign finance reform to future predictions. But I think, considering his continuous references to the Cato Institute, that he is trying to convince Americans to either be more conservative or to be more libertarian; and to downsize government, because it's too big.
Q. Were you convinced?
A. No. O'Rourke does make some interesting historical references, but as I said, you can never seem to pin him down on much. I think that he should have called this book fiction, because there really isn't much truth in it. But, judging from his prior success, I guess O'Rourke is popular with many Americans. So why shouldn't he keep doing what he's been successful at? I did note that, since his hippie days, he now considers making a lot of money, and then donating it, to be a better way to go, politically, than protesting and remaining impoverished.

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About the author (2010)

P.J. O'Rourke is the author of thirteen books, including Parliament of Whores and Give War a Chance, both of which were #1 New York Times best sellers. His most recent book is Driving Like Crazy.

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