Paul Rodriguez says it’s ‘stupid his party is spending money to oust him’
Paul Rodriguez has been one of America’s best–loved standup comics for nearly 40 years, and he isn’t ready to slow down. In fact, with the wildest presidential election season in memory in full swing, the outspoken Republican had plenty to say in a recent interview on the podcast “Grown-A** Men” on the Radio Titans podcast network.
Rodriguez came out publicly as a GOP voter in 2012 when he endorsed Mitt Romney for president, and has estimated that he lost up to a third of his audience over his announcement. He describes the Democratic Party as “second only to Catholicism” in drawing devotion from the Latino community, and said he finds himself in a double dilemma this year due to Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s controversial comments on Mexicans and illegal immigration.
“I think Trump, whether you agree with his policies or disagree with the stupid things he says, I think he is an outsider and it’s stupid his party is spending money to oust him,” said Rodriguez, speaking with “GAM” hosts Carl Kozlowski, Ed Galvez and Christina Myers Hepburn.
“It’s going to be very interesting to see if the GOP can survive this. It’s hard for me being a minority within a minority, having declared myself as a Republican and really now thinking twice about this situation. He’s going to build a wall, but if you want to impress me, have whites build it.”
Rodriguez noted that he thinks Trump’s business experience is ideal for turning the struggling economy around, and also agrees with the candidate on wanting to limit spending on foreign aid.
“Most foreign aid is a scam because by the time actual people get it; it’s ridiculous. I think more is done by America’s one-on-one generosity – ministers or people who move their families to a poor country and help where they can,” said Rodriguez. “These people get more accomplished. America is a very generous country, and even people that hate us want to come here.
“Most countries think the streets here are paved with gold and for the most part they are,” Rodriguez continued. “America is a place where we worry about eating too much more than eating too little. There are honest good-hearted people out there, but more happens one-on-one if you mail money directly to someone than giving through a charity, which has red tape and is often a scam.”
The second Rodriguez gets rolling on politics, his words cascade forth. His passion for politics stems from his childhood as the son of Mexican agricultural ranchers who brought him to East L.A. when he was a young boy.
Rodriguez originally considered being a lawyer before entering comedy, and he’s maintained a strong social conscience through frequent fundraising, especially for Latino causes. He also has been a leader of the California Latino Water Coalition and has been named Humanitarian of the Year by the city of Fresno for his work in water conservation.
Rodriguez also weighed in on the controversial protest group Black Lives Matter, noting that statistics show that “13 black men will die tonight at the hands of other black men,” yet wondering why “the only time these activists seems to do something about it is when a non-black kills a black.”
He adds, “I’m not blaming African-Americans. I grew up in Compton, but if you’re really concerned you can’t just blame it on poverty. It comes down to disintegration of the family. The unwed mother is the basis of all our social ills. There’s no way when a boy is 12 or 13 years old, a boy can be corrected or chastised. There’s no reason to be out at midnight when you’re 11 or 12. You used to have someone to answer to.”
Rodriguez can relate to the troubles inner-city youths face, because he was arrested at the age of 17 for being part of a grand theft auto charge. Friends had invited him to join in on a joyride in a stolen car, and when the police pulled them over, the others ran and Rodriguez was arrested because he was the one passenger who had stuck around to speak with police.
He credits the resulting two-week jail stint with scaring him straight, and noted that it was that relatively brief time behind bars that inspired him to record a comedy concert special performing for the inmates at the infamous San Quentin prison.
” I remember as a kid watching Johnny Cash on ABC doing a live special and it stuck in my head, ‘I wonder if comedy could do well there.’ So I went, it went well, I made a few boyfriends,” he joked. “They do have a great sense of humor, a heightened sense of humor. They’ve got 24 hours a day to think of nothing but goofy stuff. You know how they say life is short? Not if you’re in prison. I did two weeks and wanted to kill myself. I never stole a car again. It cured me.”
The jail time also resulted in the conservative Rodriguez speaking out against the death penalty. He believes that spending life behind bars is more severe than getting the electric chair, and also noted that life in prison can always move a prisoner to redemption, while there’s no coming back from an execution.
“It changed my perspective on the death penalty. It’s rather stupid because it doesn’t really pay off, when you can make a person spend the rest of their life thinking about what they did,” said Rodriguez. “A lot of [prisoners] have mental problems, but a lot just get off on the wrong path and think strongarming, and using their fists is the best way to get over. But the best way to get around life is to use your noodle. Dylan said it best. Some people get away robbing with a pen more than with a gun. The real criminals are wearing suits.”