The night before Americans took to the polls, political satirist P.J. O’Rourke took the stage at Johns Auditorium to discuss government, politicians, freedom, and his new book Don’t Vote: It Just Encourages the Bastards.
O’Rourke has written for the likes of Car and Driver and American Spectator. In the early 1970s he joined National Lampoon, where he became editor-in-chief; for 15 years he worked as a foreign correspondent for Rolling Stone magazine. His best-selling books include Parliament of Whores, Give War a Chance, Eat the Rich, Peace Kills, and On the Wealth of Nations.
At Hampden-Sydney, as in his new book, O’Rourke approached political science from the perspective of the girls’ sleep-over game “Kill, Boff, Marry,” the title of which was altered for the public audience but retains its off-color tone in print.
The crowd of students, faculty, and interested community members were treated to O’Rourke’s conservative opinions. On Baby Boomers, he said, “We fought the establishment by growing our hair long and dressing like clowns.” Also, “We wanted power, but with power comes responsibility. Three slogans that never existed were: ‘sisterhood is responsibility;’ ‘responsibility to the people;’ and ‘black responsibility’.”
On government spending, O’Rourke used a philosophical truth table to explain that there is no incentive for responsibility when politicians spend someone else’s money on someone other than themselves.
On committees, he said reasonable people develop “committee brain” and “with so much committee brain, it is a wonder that anything gets done. The horror is that it does.”
Students were delighted to get the chance to hear O’Rourke’s wit and wisdom and to meet him afterwards during a book signing. His visit was sponsored by the Center for the Study of Political Economy.