Bill Maher celebrated St. Patrick’s Day on Friday during his Real Time on HBO – or, as he referred to it, “Alcoholic Christmas” – by bringing up the dangerous parallels between the religious hatreds that fueled politics in last century Ireland and the turmoil in today’s United States between Democrats and Republicans.
“You can’t think about the Irish without thinking about the division,” Maher said, harkening back to the violent rebellions that created a fractured society there. Now, the same level of intensity is bubbling between Democrats and Republicans here, he noted. “We used to pray for the nation. Now each side prays the other side doesn’t destroy the nation.”
Taking excerpts from a speech former President Donald Trump gave recently at the CPAC convention, Maher noted how it reflected an almost Biblical level of intensity about smiting the other side. It was “big talk from a guy who can’t even shut up his girlfriends,” Maher joked, but then noted, “That’s where we are. Your fellow citizens aren’t just wrong. They are heretics that have to be destroyed.”
Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene recently called for a national divorce between red and blue states. “She is playing with the kind of fire that made Northern Ireland a living hell,” said Maher. Yet he also cited statistics where a full third of voters agree with her and want a national divorce.
“Just voicing this idea is dangerous,” Maher said. “It reinforces the idea that you can’t talk to “those people.”
The problem is that a simple separation is not so simple. There are conservatives who support abortion, and liberals who are against defunding the police, and many more examples where views don’t fit into neat boxes that would be at home in states created by ideology.
“Seems like we need a lot more new countries,” Maher said. “Or we could just stick with the one.”
You can’t be a patriot and not be for the whole “United” part of “United States,” he emphasized. He suggested that we modify a phrase that is heard frequently on St. Patrick’s Day, about how everyone is Irish on the day. Instead, how about a motto that indicates, “We’re all Americans every day,” he said.
Earlier in the show, Maher had an interview with Noa Tishby, Israeli actress, producer, and author of the book Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth.
They talked Israel politics, Tishby defending the Israeli actions in Gaza, which she termed “institutionalized terrorism.”
Maher noted that Israel’s actions against Palestine are losing traction with liberals, according to polls.
“If they spent a day in Gaza, they would see what liberalism is not,” Tishby countered.
The panel discussion featured Forward Party founder and former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and Democratic Congresswoman from Michigan Elissa Slotkin.
Yang touted the benefits of his Universal Basic Income plan, while both he and Slotkin tried to explain the mess caused by the collapse of several banks in the last week.
In a funny moment, Maher brought up San Francisco’s reparations plans, which would grant $5 million to the descendants of enslaved Black Americans along with a host of other benefits. “Even I didn’t go this far!” said Yang, laughing.