Feature:Opinion

Jimmy ‘Rent Is Too Damn High’ McMillan captures the political and cultural zeitgeist

John Guardiano Freelance Writer

“The leader of the ‘Rent Is Too Damn High’ Party might have a scandal already,” declared Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren last night. “Guess what he pays for rent. Stay tuned.”

It turns out that Jimmy McMillan has lived for at least the past decade rent free.

“‘We’re like family,’ Mr. McMillan said of his landlords. ‘They don’t want me to pay any money at all. I am basically living rent free,’” he told the New York Times.

Mr. McMillan said that he moved into his apartment, a one-bedroom on Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in the early 1980s, but soon fell behind on rent when he left his job in the Postal Service on disability.

The landlady, Mr. McMillan said, admired his Vietnam War service and forgave the back rent and, eventually, the future rent, too. In exchange, he did maintenance work, and after she died in 2003, her heirs continued the tradition.

OK, so what exactly is the “scandal”? Answer: there is none! Because whether Mr. McMillan realizes it or not, “The rent is too damn high” is not meant to be taken literally, or only literally. It is, rather, a metaphor for life. And, as such, it captures a larger-scale truth that transcends its literal meaning.

Indeed, “the rent is too damn high” is a pithy, shorthand way of saying: “The price is too high; the burden too great; the imposition too much.” It’s a way of expressing frustration with what McMillan rightly calls “politics as usual.”

It’s a way for we the people to register our dissatisfaction with political gamesmanship and partisanship. It’s a way of saying, “Enough! The rent is too damn high!”

It’s too high for the bailouts and the out-of-control-spending, and the heavy hand of arbitrary and uncertain federal rules and regulations.

And it’s too high for an out-of-control judiciary, which, increasingly, seems determined to short-circuit American democracy in pursuit of a highly ideological “progressive” political agenda.

In this way, McMillan has brilliantly captured the political and cultural zeitgeist. Because the hard political truth is that Americans of all races, religions, colors and creeds have had enough.

Indeed, more and more of us are deciding that McMillan is absolutely right: The rent is too damn high. And, come November 2, we intend to do something about it. We intend to take matters into our own hands and to remedy this problem.

What are we gonna do? Simple: We’re gonna replace many of our dictatorial landlords in Congress and negotiate a far more reasonable lease. The rent, after all, is too damn high.

John R. Guardiano is a writer and analyst in Arlington, Virginia. He writes and blogs for a variety of publications, including FrumForum, the American Spectator and The Daily Caller. Follow him at his personal blog, ResoluteCon.com, and on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano.