Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The U.S. Presidential election: What would Kerouac do?

U.S. Presidential politics continues to heat up, with each campaign maneuvering to put its candidate over with the electorate. As loyal readers of The Daily Beat know, the thesis of my book, The Beat Handbook: 100 Days of Kerouactions, is that one only needs to do what Kerouac would do in order to be "beat." In other words, the beat path is discernible by answering the question: "What would Kerouac do?" So, what would Jack do regarding Presidential politics?

Here is a quote from William S. Burroughs in the documentary, Kerouac (click here):
Well, he seemed to me to be completely apolitical. I don't think he ever signed a petition or took part in a demonstration.
If that's true -- and I'm not about to research it further than Burroughs' own words -- then I'm going to offer some advice that differs from my usual slant on things: DON'T BE LIKE JACK IN THIS REGARD.

Elections matter. It's easy to crawl into a cave of apathy and say that all politicians are corrupt and it therefore doesn't matter who wins. It does matter. Maybe it is picking the lesser of two evils, but that's something! It's amazing that we live in a country where we can have elections and completely change the national leadership without violence, revolution, etc. Why don't we get more involved?

Here's something to think about. The next President may get to nominate as many as three U.S. Supreme Court justices. Don't tell me that doesn't matter. A certain composition on the Supreme Court could lead to overturning Roe v. Wade, or to ruling that Citizens United is unconstitutional, etc. Who the President is matters. Maybe not as much as it should, or could, but it matters.

So, if it's true that Jack was apolitical (and I know it's not as simple as Burroughs makes it out -- we can all find examples of Jack, especially in later years, opining about things political), please don't be like Jack. Sign a petition. Take part in a demonstration, Give money to the candidate of your choice. Volunteer to help a campaign. And for heaven's sake, when November comes around, vote!

I'm not going to try to persuade you whom to vote for: I just want you to care enough to get involved. Educate yourself about each candidate and then do what you can -- whether it's something big or something little -- to get her or him elected.

It matters.


Anonymous said...

Jk traveled the political spectrum as you know Rick. Young JK probably would go Bernie, if I remember correctly, he stated something about being socialist somewhere ( little help anyone help out there?).
But older JK... I can't even think it!


Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Indeed, Jack had political opinions and they seemed to -- as with most of us -- "evolve" with age. There's a difference, though, between having political opinions and getting involved, the latter being what Burroughs opined about (signing petitions, attending demonstrations).

Either way, I wish more Americans would get off the apathy train and at least vote!