Alan Grayson Gets It …

Maybe you’ve seen the Bill Maher segment yet with former Congressman Alan Grayson. 414,028 people already had when I watched it.

Week before last, Alan Grayson appeared on HBO, on Real Time with Bill Maher. The subject was Occupy Wall Street. Bill’s guests mocked the Occupy Wall Street protesters, complaining they didn’t know what the protest was all about.

Grayson had a different point of view:

Grayson: “Let me tell what they’re talking about. They’re complaining about the fact that Wall Street wrecked the economy three years ago, and nobody’s been held responsible for that. Not a single person has been indicted or convicted, for destroying twenty percent of our national net worth, accumulated over two centuries. They’re upset about the fact that Wall Street has iron control over the economic policies of this country, and that one party is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Wall Street, and the other party caters to them as well. That’s the truth of the matter, as you [Bill] have said before. And . . . .”

P.J. O’Rourke: “Get the man a bongo drum, they’ve found their spokesman!”

Grayson: “If I . . .”

P.J. O’Rourke: “Get your shoes off, get a bongo drum, forget where to go to the bathroom, and it’s yours.”

Grayson: “If I am the spokesman for all the people who think we should NOT have 24 million people in this country who can’t find a full-time job; that we should NOT have 50 million people who can’t see a doctor when they’re sick; that we should NOT have 47 million people of this country who need government help to feed themselves; and that we should NOT have 15 million families who owe more on their mortgage than the value of home, OK, I’ll be that spokesman.”

The moment was electric. Bill Maher looked at the audience and said, “look, they’re standing!” It was the first standing ovation for a guest in the 10-year history of the show.

And why? Because in less than a minute, Alan Grayson articulated what so many observers had been groping for, since the Occupy Wall Street movement started: the sense of what’s gone wrong, and the urgent need to do something about it.

  1. Wall Street has created and perpetuated a system of enormous inequality.
  2. That system caused The Crash, and no one has been punished for it.
  3. Wall Street perpetuates that system through iron control of our political process.
  4. The result is pervasive suffering: joblessness, homelessness, illness, poverty and even hunger.

Alan Grayson has the insight and the courage to say that.

And that’s why that short video clip from Bill Maher’s show has been passed round and round. Last week, it was the fifth most-watched news video in the world. All the different versions that have been posted on YouTube are approaching 500,000 views, with more on Facebook.

The breakdown is 4098 “likes,” and 68 “dislikes.” Which proves that we really are “the 99%.” Or at least 98.4%.

Zeitgeist. n. The spirit of the time; the taste and outlook characteristic of a period or generation.

There, in a few sentences, Alan Grayson captured the spirit of our time: the urgent sense that the system is broken; that people are suffering; and that we have to face the real problems in our lives, attack them, and defeat them.