Forgotten Political Movements: A History
With the American consciousness preoccupied with either the nascent “Occupy Wall Street” movement or the latest episode of Dr. Oz, it seems worthwhile to delve deeply into mass social actions of the past that have otherwise been cast aside by the rising tide of nacho cheese-flavored apathy.
Please be aware that this is by no means a comprehensive list. For further reading on the subject, I recommend The Lunatic’s Guide to American Politics: From Tar & Feathers to Tea Parties, by Daniel Martin (Grinflarbin Press, 2009).
THE PITY PARTY
The search for a viable 3rd political party has been a torturous one in the United States. The closest we have come in recent years is Ross Perot’s Reform Party, which made gallant efforts in the 1996 and 2000 Presidential elections. The movement ultimately failed to gain traction, but it inspired a small, but dedicated group known as the Pity Party.
Running in 2004 under the slogan, “Brother, can you spare a vote?” Mitchell Allen, former City Planning Commissioner for Merced, California did his absolute best to shame the population of this country into voting him into office. In his first official speech as a candidate, Allen said, “If my mother taught me anything, it’s that guilt can get a person to do anything, even surrender their freedom to a highly unqualified individual such as myself who really just needs some positive reinforcement for once. I mean, I didn’t even have a date to the prom. I was bald at 26. I fight against Athlete’s Foot every day. My car payments are more than my rent. Throw me a bone here.”
After failing to qualify for any state ballots, the Pity Party ceased soliciting votes and began begging for hugs. The candidate will forever be remembered for his revolutionary yard sign that read, “Allen for President: I am all alone in the world and love is a lie.”
THE PEOPLE’S ARMY FOR MAKING BOOKS LESS GROSS
What initially began as a way to make Lady Chatterley’s Lover palatable for her young daughter soon became a lifelong commitment to censorship for Maggie Salisbury. A renowned homemaker and amateur bridge aficionado, Ms. Salisbury gradually lost interest in both pursuits once she found her calling in social agitation. The weekly bridge games became an afterthought and the children were sent away to a harsh Taiwanese boarding school where the greatest lesson taught was how to avoid the cruel recrimination of the bullwhip.
“I see so many books come out every year that are just icky. Like, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Do people really have to eat each other? You say it’s because of an apocalypse, but we don’t even find out how it all happened. That’s why I lobbied to have the book edited to just say that everyone was off for Thanksgiving break and people went around eating Subway sandwiches instead of each other. And don’t even get me started on the classics. Don’t you think the characters in Thomas Hardy novels could stand to stop whining all the time? It ain’t that bad, OK?”
Salisbury’s cause was buoyed by the dramatic removal of the word “nigger” from the latest edition of Huckleberry Finn. That major victory led her to lobby for Gregor Samsa to turn into a birthday cake instead of a cockroach and for Myrtle Wilson to be given a series of deep tissue massages in lieu of being struck by an oncoming automobile at the end of The Great Gatsby.
Literary critics were shocked by the hubris of Salisbury, but purveyors of good taste, socially awkward shut-ins and Sean Hannity were thrilled by the changes. “I was so satisfied reading Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho when it was just 500 pages of astute fashion tips,” Salisbury was quoted as saying in The Washington Times.
The movement lost steam in recent months due to Salisbury’s insistence that the New Testament reflect her sensibility. Hardly anyone reacted favorably to her suggestion that Jesus fly to Heaven in the basket of a 10-speed bicycle, ala E.T. rather than being crucified.
THE SOCIETY FOR PESSIMISTIC THINKING
This particular group didn’t fade away into the background of history because of a softening of their ideological principals, but rather due to them. The Society never actually convened a meeting or protested anything, because, as explained by their founder, Arthur Taxsmith, “Nothing is going to change, so what the hell is the point?”
The closest the group got to a direct action was a sit-in at Newark, New Jersey City Hall that was canceled two weeks prior to the event. “The PATH train from Manhattan is never on time, so we were pretty sure no one would show up. Plus, it’s the rainy season and the Yankees are in the playoffs. The only protest sign I made just said ‘nah, forget it’ and I fell asleep soon after. Also, I think my wife is cheating on me,” said Taxsmith.
CAN YOU PLEASE WIPE DOWN THE ELLIPTICAL MACHINE?
After wading in human filth and waste while trying to get ‘a sweet six-pack’ at the gym, noted Los Angeles comedian Dave Schilling took to the streets to facilitate change. The cavalier attitude of the patrons at Bally’s Total Fitness could no longer be tolerated. Schilling set up camp outside the Downtown location and handed out rolls of paper towels and Windex to the oncoming horde of fitness junkies.
He sat and sat for weeks at a time, advocating furiously for his cause. He was wont to bellow out such clichéd slogans as “Cleanliness is next to godliness” or “Take care of your mess, asshole.”
All the sitting caused Dave to gain 15 pounds.
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It started with a right swipe, a little green heart. Tinder of course.
Though I acknowledge and appreciate the differences in human experiences, and while your heartbreak is (and always will be) uniquely and completely your own, I must urge you to consider that I have been where you are.
With his hat cocked back, body tilted away from his cane, and right forefinger pointing directly at his audience, Joseph Ducreux commands the attention of those viewing his self-portrait.
I was born in 1990; he was born in 1973. I’m 23; he just turned 40.