The Real Jimmy Kimmel Test

Dave Pell
3 min readSep 22, 2017

For the past few nights, Jimmy Kimmel has been spending much of his show’s monologue providing his take on the terrible health care bill being pushed by the Senate GOP. On Wednesday night alone, he spent more than ten minutes sharing a detailed analysis of what’s in the bill, and deftly countered the claims of several politicians and pundits who challenged him on the facts. That’s more time than most GOP senators have spent on this bill.

Undoubtedly, some people were rolling their eyes. Those on the right have little patience for the take of a member of the so-called liberal celebrity elite. And even those on the left may have felt that Kimmel was spending too much time on a complex and decidedly unfunny issue, when his audience showed up to be entertained and escape the day’s news and politics.

There was a time I might have been in the latter category. But that time is not now. The Trump movement (in which the Senate GOP is now a willing and even enthusiastic participant) presents a unique threat to the great strides progressives have made over the past several years. Whether this threat is remembered as a speed-bump or a u-turn along the road to a more progressive and just America depends on how hard we fight.

And I mean fight, not resist. I’ve always hated that call to arms. The civil rights movement, gay marriage, and women’s advances didn't come because people resisted; they came because people fought.

When, motivated in part by his own son’s medical challenges, Jimmy Kimmel took the health care issue into America’s living rooms this week, he wasn’t resisting. He was advocating.

And make no mistake, Kimmel is taking a massive personal and professional risk by doing this. In the past few weeks, politicians and members of the media have been referring to a Jimmy Kimmel Test — used to determine whether a kid who was born with certain health difficulties would be covered and get everything they need (regardless of cost) during the first year of life. This week, we’ve seen that there’s a new Jimmy Kimmel test:

Will a person take personal and professional risks to stand up for what’s right?

I can’t say many good things about Donald Trump, but I’ll give him this: Donald Trump is a values clarifier. He’s a living, breathing, pontificating, lying, tweeting reminder of which values you cherish and what you’re willing to stand up for. We’ve spent countless hours analyzing the character of Donald Trump. But that’s a settled issue. The real character being tested right now is yours.

Chris Christie said we shouldn’t pay attention to Jimmy Kimmel because “he’s not a serious person.” Ordinarily, it’s true that Kimmel is not a serious person. He’s a funny person. But this isn’t a joking matter and these are not joking times.

Should Jimmy Kimmel have turned his show into something so political? Everything. Is. Political. He should do it again tonight and the next night too. Donald Trump and Senate GOP aren’t taking a night off from politics. So neither should Jimmy Kimmel. And neither should you.

When the moment called for it, Jimmy Kimmel became an activist. And that should be a lesson to all of us.

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Dave Pell

I write NextDraft, a quick and entertaining look at the day’s most fascinating news.