Q&A with Bill Maher

Political personality and comedian discusses Trump and upcoming Buffalo show


Bill Maher is no stranger to stirring the pot.

The host of HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher” and stand-up comedian will continue his stream of political anecdotes and observations, playing downtown at Shea’s Performing Arts Center on Nov. 12.

On Tuesday, Maher spoke with The Spectrum regarding President Trump, the political divide in the country and his thoughts on the role of young men and women in politics.

Q: In light of the indictments making headlines over the last few days, where do you see the FBI investigation going? Is Robert Mueller more relentless than James Comey, or will this news be tossed to the side?

A: Well, the big picture is I don’t think they’ll ever get Trump. I don’t see the Republicans losing their grip on power. We’ve had a number of special elections this year after Trump was elected when we were supposed to have this huge backlash. The Republicans keep winning them. The Democrats have been asleep at the switch for the last 10-20 years. They have let the republicans take over the state houses, the legislatures and that’s where those boring but very important laws are made like where you gerrymander the state, voter fraud nonsense.

When Trump was running, the one thing you heard constantly was “it’s rigged! The system is rigged!” The system is rigged, but in his favor and the Republicans’ favor. Between the help they get from Russia, the gerrymandering problem and the voter fraud nonsense – which is a completely nonexistent problem – which they use to scrub the rolls of people who would be likely Democratic voters, I don’t see the Democrats having much of a chance to take back either branch of government and if they don’t take over Congress, then they can’t impeach [Trump].

The other Republicans plainly are not going to do that. The only Republicans who have come out against Trump are the ones who are retiring, or who are unwell like John McCain. No sitting Republican is really against Trump the way Bob Corker, Jeff Flake and John McCain are.

Q: So, in your opinion, are the Democrats beyond saving?

A: I hope the Democrats aren’t beyond help, but they don’t seem to be in any hurry to correct themselves. They can do a lot better by listening to me, but they don’t seem to want to do that. It’s funny, after the 2012 election the Republicans did what they call an autopsy. They had lost again and needed to find out why. Of course, their prescription that they came up with is not what they did. What they said was, “well, we’ve got to expand the party, we’ve got to be nicer to minorities!” Of course, they went in the exact opposite direction with Trump and won. Now, the people who should be doing an autopsy are the Democrats. I know Hilary got more votes, but they still lost. That’s what matters.

They should be looking very hard in the mirror as to why they lost. And you know, part of it is because they're constantly picking gutless, chicken sh*t fights among themselves. They have no sense of going for the jugular. They don’t fight the way the Republicans fight. They don’t go there. The Republicans go there. Neil Gorsuch is sitting on the Supreme Court because Mitch McConnell said to himself, “I can do what no one has ever done, which is deny the sitting president for an entire year his Supreme Court pick. Try to stop me. You can’t, because I’m going to do it.” Democrats don’t fight like that. They have lost the gene to get into the game on this level. It seems like they're waiting for the country to come around in a way and embrace this sort of Marquess of Queensberry rules of fighting. This country is not this good anymore. They are fighting the last war in a nation that no longer exists.

Q: In colleges and universities across the country, there are clubs and institutions geared toward harboring either conservative or democratic morals. In light of the political climate of the United States today, do you think this current era of politics is redefining what it means to be a Democrat or what it means to be a Republican?

A: That’s been going on for a while but it has certainly gotten worse under Trump. Trump has changed the entire Republican Party. The Republican Party is now Donald Trump’s party. I know it looks to the liberals, especially if you watch MSNBC all day, you think Trump is losing. Trump isn’t losing. His approval rating is in the toilet but he doesn’t care. He has state TV in the form of Fox News, just like the Russians used to have. That’s more valuable than any single branch of government could be when it keeps your base from knowing anything bad about you. When you talk about Russia, the people who watch Fox News just shrug. They don’t hear anything. The story doesn’t exist in their world. [Fox News] is still covering Hillary, the focus is still on her emails and Benghazi. [Trump] can go on like this indefinitely. No matter what he does, they will stick with him. He is their boy. Talking about the demographics last time and the autopsy, the conventional view was “oh, we have to be nicer to minorities because the white population is dwindling and it's only 70% of the country.” To Trump’s credit, the wily bastard that he is said “oh, you mean the country is still 70% white people? I bet I could make something out of that.” Damned if he didn’t go after the worst instincts in the white population and win an election.

Q: What advice could you give young people in colleges and universities that will steer them towards preserving democracy, which is something some people say is slipping away in the United States?

A: First of all, read a newspaper. Get off of your f*cking phone. Get off of your f*cking Facebook. Stop getting your news from whatever the other morons in your circle are sending around. Read The New York Times every day. Find out what is actually going on in the world. Because, you know what, I’ve had my fun with the planet. It’s your future. You’re the ones who are going to be inheriting some sort of a hellscape if we don’t do something about the environment. Of course Trump pulled out of the Paris Treaty, not to mention debt – he’s going to blow a huge hole in the debt. Remember the Tea Party was so concerned about the debt? Remember, back in 2009? Oh my God, this is what they could not stand; “we can’t leave our children with this massive debt!”

Of course Trump now has this huge tax cut that’s going to blow a massive hole in the debt. But hey, it’s okay because now the president is white and a Republican, so it’s okay to run up debt. All of these problems are going to get worse for your generation. It’s you people who should care, not me! Like I said, I’m 61. I’ve done it. I’m playing with the house money. And I have the house money to protect myself from some of the sh*t that’s going to come down the pike. But you guys really need to get in the game. You need to vote, obviously. The young people don’t show up when it’s not an exciting election. It’s the midterms that make all of the difference. If we don’t have a Democratic congress in 2018, then you’re never going to get rid of Trump. If we don’t get rid of Trump, then your future is being decided by an old, white Fox News viewer. Picture the dumbest, stupidest, most typical assh*le at the end of the bar. An old white man who watches Fox News every day. That is Donald Trump. That is now who is leading the country – the Fox News douchebag who doesn’t know reality. He just listens to Fox News and their anecdotal, racist version of what is going on in the country and then he makes policies based off that. That is all going to affect you. It is affecting you right now.

Q: What are your feelings towards your show in Buffalo? What are you looking forward to the most?

A: I love Buffalo. I’m at the point in my life where I don’t have to do this at all. I have nothing to prove and I don’t need any more money. I travel because I like it. I do it because people out there tell me that no one skewers Trump quite the way that you do and I think that’s true. There’s a reason that he sued me. I am meaner to this guy than anybody and that’s what he deserves. That’s what the country needs to hear. When I hear people tell me to keep going and not be deterred, from both the left and right trying to stop me, I’m not going to let them stop me. What I’m saying is I don’t have to do it, I do it because I want to do it, because I love it and I love the audience. I love the connection that we have and I feel like, especially right now, we need to band together. It feels good to commune with people who basically think the way I do.

As far as Buffalo specifically, I used to travel to as many different cities as I could. In recent years, I kind of cut that down. Just to about the 20 or 25 cities I have really enjoyed the most over the years. I mean, I’m glad I went to Fargo, North Dakota. I’m glad I went to Boise, Idaho. I’m glad I did Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’m glad I went to Appleton, Wisconsin. They’re all fine cities and I can name many more I’ve been to, but I think I’ve earned just going to the places that are sophisticated, that I really like and that have a nice hotel. Buffalo is definitely always on my list. It’s sort of in my backyard. I went to college at Cornell University, which is not that far away. It’s always good to be in Upstate New York. Just don’t have it be f*cking cold when I get there.

Brian Evans is a staff writer and can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.


Brian Evans is a senior English major and The Spectrum's senior arts editor.