Him, Al Franken.Posted: June 16, 2008
Al Franken received the endorsement of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party last weekend, which means he will be the Democratic candidate this fall for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Republican Norm Coleman (whom Franken will be opposing).
There are disturbing signs already that Franken is backpedaling from specific pieces of his satirical writing of the last 30 years. He must feel he has to if he is to win, but as one who has regarded Franken as a great American political and social humorist, I wish he wouldn’t throw his wit under the bus. His humor is why he should be elected.
The superficial reason he should stay funny is that it would be cool to have someone funny in the Senate for the next six years. But there’s a serious reason, too. Humor is a potent instrument. One politician can blather platitudes for hours and not move the needle of public opinion an inch. Another can distill the same argument into one funny sentence, and change the world. Franklin Roosevelt knew that. Barack Obama shows signs of knowing it. Al Franken has always known it—but is in danger of forgetting it.
It may be that Franken believes his uniquely subversive, sly-fool humor is the enemy of the orthodoxy he must espouse to win—and he may even be right about that—but the conundrum he faces is that without the freedom to be funny, he will be like Samson without his hair. Assuming he can even win in this self-neutered condition, there probably isn’t much point in electing him if he’s going to be just another ineffectual doctrinaire liberal, other than to keep Norm Coleman from re-election.
Anyway, ever the optimist, I made a contribution to Franken’s campaign, and you can, too. When you do so, you get a special YouTube video of Al giving you his thanks.