It has become abundantly obvious that the forces of truth, justice, and the American way have gone out of fashion. Superman is dead, and the barbarians have taken over the republic. Every day, fools and hypocrites like Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins stand at their pulpits and shamelessly voice their support for an ill-tempered, insecure frat boy who enjoys beer and sexual assault. All the while, the president of the United States makes it a point to mock rape victims.
If you can peel yourself away from the live-stream of Democracy’s disembowelment, there is one ray of hope to be found in the midst of this unmitigated shitstorm: the midterm elections. In less than a month, you can put these traitors to simple human decency out of jobs. You can use your vote to say you support rape victims and not rapists. You can show you give a damn about women, immigrants, people of color, and everyone else these bastards would strip of their most basic rights.
All you have to do is
Andre, who is best known for his antics on Adult Swim’s The Eric Andre Show, is perhaps the perfect man to host a Miami voter-registration rally in this time of lunacy. He is, after all, the kind of person you might be inclined to describe as a lunatic. His comedy is irreverent, and his behavior is often bizarre, but in addition to being a controversial instigator, he’s also incredibly intelligent and fiercely liberal. All of this adds up to the kind of entertainer for which right-wingers have absolutely no patience — a feeling that goes both ways as far as Andre is concerned.
“I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but our country is going to fuckin’ hell in a hand basket,” Andre began when he took the stage at Gramps in Wynwood last night. “Today is rough. After every joke, you’re gonna be like, Ah, that’s fuckin’ funny, but then you’re gonna cry.”
He covered a range of topics, some more seriously than others. He mentioned the “sexual predators running the show” in an obvious reference to Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. He also talked about the inefficacy of the drug war and the importance of feminism and women’s equality. But he consistently made a point of bringing the crowd back to the central purpose of the rally.
“I want to get people to register to vote, and I want to get people excited about November,” the comedian said, rousing cheers from the crowd, “'cause the fucking bad guys from a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie are running the country. It’s up to you to save the country from sociopaths.”
There were plenty of lighter moments throughout Andre’s sets, like when he asked if marijuana was legal yet in Florida before asking if Ranch was legal, a reference to one of his most popular bits from The Eric Andre Show. He closed the night by inviting half a dozen people onstage and texting their moms using their phones' autocomplete functions to see whose confused parent he could piss off first.
In a brief interview with New Times backstage, Andre explained that his aim to get people registered to vote is born out of his concern over one of the biggest issues facing our beleaguered country: the right to vote itself.
“I feel like Republicans are doing everything in their power to keep people who aren’t rich, white, Christian, heterosexual businessmen from voting,” Andre says. “Gerrymandering and the fact that felons who have served their time aren’t allowed to vote, I think that’s ridiculous. I think you should automatically be registered to vote. I don’t know why there’s voter registration. Once you turn 18, if you’re old enough to die for your country, voter registration should not only be automatic; it should be mandatory.”
Even a comedian as energetic and bombastic as Andre can’t help but sound somewhat dispirited by the reality of the Kavanaugh situation. Not only is the highest court in the land being tainted and turned into something painfully illegitimate on live TV, but the people who are forcibly dragging the bench down to such tawdry depths are also sending an atrocious signal to women across the country – that they don't really matter. Still, Andre is trying to keep the faith.
“I think it’s sad and disgusting, but I won’t give up hope, and I hope it energizes the resistance. It’s actually business as usual. The way we treat women in this country is disgusting. There’s also a lot of [women], I call them ‘Aunt Toms,’ there’s a lot of women that have Stockholm syndrome and support these rapists as well. Senator Collins voted for Kavanaugh, so I’m at first disillusioned, but you can’t give up hope, and you have to fight the power.”
Andre was far from the only one at last night’s rally to criticize the sad state of affairs in today’s America. Billy Corben, the local documentarian best known for his film Cocaine Cowboys, co-hosted the event, often leading the crowd in chants of “If We Vote, We Win.” If you’ve ever heard Corben speak, you know that he doesn’t mince words.
“Alright, I have some good news and some bad news,” the director began. “The bad news is the American experiment in democracy has failed. The good news is we have one chance – one chance to unfuck it up, and it is imminent, it is coming on November 6.”
He went on to compare the status quo in the United States to the third act of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. “We just have to hope that there’s a Return of the Jedi at this point.”
The evening saw a number of different speakers take the stage, from Nikki Fried, the Democrat and former marijuana lobbyist who is running for Florida Agriculture Commissioner, to Bradley Thornton and Ryan and Matthew Deitsch, students from Parkland who came to the rally on behalf of March For Our Lives.
“If you’re not registered to vote, there’re people registering you guys to vote all around this event,” said Matthew Deitsch, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High, “Tell your friends to register to vote, make sure you drag them to the polls, Uber and Lyft are giving free rides – you literally have no excuse unless you hate this country and if you hate this country, you should vote to make this country whatever you want!”
And as impassioned and moving as many of the speakers who took the stage were, the voices of those in attendance were just as profound and powerful. Cassie Torrence recently moved to Miami from Ohio and works in the city as a public school teacher. She came out to support an upcoming referendum that will be on the ballot in November that could give teachers in Miami-Dade up to a 20 percent raise in their salaries.
“I work in the inner city and let me tell you,” says Torrence, “my kids are hungry every day; my kids are tired every day. And if I can have that bit of extra money to buy them food, to provide for them a little more, I’ll be able to do my job better because you can’t teach kids that are hungry, you can’t teach kids that are tired.”
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In addition to raising awareness about the importance of helping public school teachers earn some of the pay that they’ve long been due, Torrence was motivated to come out and lend her voice to this rally by the Kavanaugh hearings that have weighed so heavily on so many people’s hearts and minds over the past weeks.
“The fact that I watched these hearings and I wasn’t surprised by anything is indicative of the fact that something needs to change in our country. The hearings made me feel sick,” explains Torrence. “But I’ll tell you, I hope that women who listened to this hearing mobilize. I hope that they come out to events like they came tonight, because all that I can say is that when you see some sick bastard like this who is gonna make decisions that are going to affect us for the rest of his lifetime, I really hope we all mobilize to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
And while it may now be all but impossible to stop Kavanaugh from ascending to the bench of the Supreme Court of the United States, there are still three days to register to vote for the midterms. The only thing that can stop this from happening over and over and over again is your vote.
If you haven’t registered to vote or need to update your registration, you can do so at registertovoteflorida.gov.