Comedy is for making people laugh. Had the editors not demanded an additional 1,494 words, I would happily have left my contribution to this symposium at that. After all, brevity is the soul of wit, as I learned this spring when the almost entirely blank book I self-published became the number one best-seller in the world for eleven consecutive days, earning a lucrative book deal with a major publishing house and an endorsement from the president of the United States, who called my tome Reasons to Vote for Democrats: A Comprehensive Guide “a great book for your reading enjoyment.” Many writers spend their lives crafting magnum opuses of art and scholarship that will never garner a dollar of profit or a moment of fame; I told a joke on Amazon that catapulted me to the very heights of literary success. Man plans, and God laughs.
It’s an old joke that echoes, among other works, The Wit and Wisdom of Spiro T. Agnew, Everything Men Know about Women and Irish Erotica. During the 1880 presidential campaign, the Republican ticket of James Garfield and Chester Arthur published A Record of the Statesmanship and Political Achievements of General Winfield Scott Hancock, Regular Democratic Nominee for President of the United States. But in the months after Donald Trump’s inauguration my version outsold them all—bigly.
For conservatives, long excluded from mainstream media outlets like the legacy press and Hollywood, new media platforms have offered inexpensive, uncensored opportunities to advance our political goals and amuse one another. As those platforms have flourished over the past decade, so too has a subversive form of exuberance on the right—one that many consider instrumental in propelling Trump to victory in 2016. When Hillary Clinton decried her political opponents as a “basket of deplorables” at a private gala in New York, her right-wing critics had plenty of forums in which to mock her back.
Among the things the right-wingers mocked Clinton for was her humorlessness. A popular internet meme, which appeared in 2015, depicts contraception-subsidy activist and Democrat contrivance Sandra Fluke standing arms-crossed and frowning next to the words “that’s not funny.” That same year, Jerry Seinfeld announced that he would no longer perform comedy on college campuses because “they’re so PC” that students refuse to laugh at jokes.
What killed Democrats’ funny bone? There has been only one major shift within Democrat orthodoxy in recent years: during the 2012 Democratic National Convention, the delegates drafting the party platform removed all references to God. Party leaders, realizing that the change would not play in Peoria, added an amendment reintroducing God, but when the amendment was put to a vote, rank-and-file delegates shouted it down. The party of Sunday school teacher Jimmy Carter had morphed into a largely atheistic enterprise.