When Chelsea Handler steps into the political arena, nothing is off the table. From writing "Trump is a butt hole" on her ass for an Instagram photo, to speaking at Politico's Cocktails and Conversation event at the Democratic National Convention, Handler isn't afraid to alienate her audiences if it means electing Hillary Clinton as the next president of the United States.
"If Trump is elected, we would have a toddler running the White House," Handler said in a phone interview about her Rock the Vote initiative at this week's DNC. Handler, whose new show Chelsea is streaming on Netflix, also discussed women in politics, Debbie Wasserman Schultz's decision to step down as head of the DNC and how she is decidedly "living a fuller life" by focusing on important issues rather than celebrity feuds like the recent #KimExposedTaylorParty.
Mic: What inspired you to have a presence at the Democratic National Convention this year for the first time ever?
Chelsea Handler: I think we're making history — I know we are. This is a historical moment in our country and I think it's really important for anyone who has a platform to be responsible enough to show up at these events and rally the troops ... Even if you're not interested in politics, even if you don't think this election is going to affect you, you have to be a responsible human being at the age of 18 and exercise your right to vote.
For women especially, the fact that the suffrage movement was such an intense, terrible and horrible time for so many people who risked their lives, that risked so many things for us, out of just sheer respect it's important for us to get out and vote.
You've mentioned on social media you're "living a fuller life" after being totally unaware of the recent Kim Kardashian-West and Taylor Swift scandal. But I'd imagine taking on new initiatives like Rock the Vote and shedding light on harder issues you address in your Netflix show must be taxing. What's waking you up every morning?
CH: I'm inspired by the power of change. I'm inspired by my own career, with the things I've been allowed to do. I'm inspired by having the will and fortitude of going after things I want and not having anything deter me. I'm inspired by all women who are able to make a statement, and that we're living in a time when there are so many successful woman.
A question I've always been asked is, "What's it like to be a successful woman in comedy, the only woman in late night?" That was the only question I ever used to be asked for so many years. The fact that it's not a question anymore inspires me. This is a time for women.
Yet it still seems like there's this glass ceiling for women in national politics, the same way there is in comedy and late night. Every time someone like Debbie Wasserman Schultz suffers a controversy, it feels like a setback.
CH: I think it's definitely more difficult for women to come to prominence in national politics, though we're getting there. This is why it's such a pivotal moment for our country: People are going to look back on this, remember this and study this.
It's unfortunate what happened to Debbie Wasserman Shultz, but ultimately it's the right move for her to step down. It's not just because she was a woman. It's because of what happened — anyone who is that involved in politics, you have a responsibility to step down to be fair and balanced. She's doing the right thing.
Are you ever worried of becoming a polarizing force with your public support of Clinton?
CH: My personal experience is vastly different because I'm not involved in politics in the way that I have a major impact on the political system. I have a major impact on viewers, and I definitely alienate people based on who I'm supporting, but I think that it's worth it.
With the two candidates that are running, I'd rather alienate my audience in order to do the right thing.
So when you look at Clinton and her background, her resumé, regardless of the GOP candidate, do you see a politician that is truly moving to you and your ideologies, or is your involvement in the 2016 election more about defeating the Republican Party this year?
CH: No, no, no, I've never had the attitude that Republicans are bad. Not until these last few years have I had such an anti-Republican stance. I like to think of myself as somebody that is open to everybody and having my opinion changed, but I think with Hillary Clinton I feel like she's been the most capable candidate all along.
She's had the most experience in politics and she's competing against someone who has never held public office. For me, that's a no-brainer. Forget about all the other shit. I want somebody who has experience in the areas that they're running for.
Did you ever have to make a decision between Clinton and Bernie Sanders, or was she always your top choice?
CH: For me, it's always been Hillary Clinton.
In a personal essay for Playboy, you revealed you had two abortions at a young age. What are your thoughts on Trump saying women who seek abortions "should be punished"?
CH: The same thing I think about anything he makes a statement about: Nothing.
So what do you think would be the worst part of a Trump presidency?
CH: If Trump is elected, we would have a toddler running the White House. It's a dangerous, terrible idea. It makes no sense that a bunch of adults would elect a toddler.
How do you think we can change the fact that millennials are of the least likely age demographic to participate in the election?
CH: We have to use our voices. The people who have louder voices need to use them, and when I say that I'm referring to myself. When you have a platform, use it. And use it for however you want to possibly help this country in any way. I'm just doing my own personal Rock the Vote initiative, and I know plenty of other people are and we'll continue to do that and hopefully get the word out to get people to vote. It's important that we do it, and I will be emphatic in my quest to accomplish that.