President Camacho played by actor Terry Crews in the 2006 cult satire Idiocracy. (Screenshot: Idiocracy/20th Century Fox)
Watching the debate last night, it’s hard to keep your head from exploding from the accumulation of outrage and consternation at the utter stupidity of a third of our fellow citizens, who swallow this bunk.
But the sheep-like passivity of the rest is no less infuriating. The whole political scene looks like it came straight from the cult film, Idiocracy.
For those who aren’t familiar with Idiocracy, the moviedepicts a society five centuries from now in which the average IQ has plummeted due to the breeding habits of the bright (very few kids, late in life), and the not-so-bright (many kids starting in their teens). Combined with rampant commercialism, a dysfunctional government, and extreme anti-intellectualism, the world is crumpling, and people are facing starvation because one of the major corporations – Brawndo, the thirst annihilator – has convinced people to use it instead of water to irrigate crops.
Two average people from the early 21st Century are marooned in this future dystopia when an experimental device built by – who else – the Defense Department – is lost in crimes and bureaucracy.
Republican Policies – Watering with Brawndo: When one of the time travelers tries to explain that “watering” crops with Brawndo is what’s killing them, he’s confronted with a mindless mantra: “Brawndo. It’s got what plants crave … it’s got electrolytes.” So the people’s go-to strategy for crops that are dying from Brawndo is … more Brawndo. Sort of like the Republican’s unholy trinity of policies -- supply-side; trickle-down; and perennial war to fix ... well … whatever ails you.
With the airwaves and government essentially owned by corporations, there’s no way to refute either of these idiotic mantras.
And after last night’s debate, it turns out Idiocracy was not so much a prophetic parody, as a description of present day politics.
There’s three mind-boggling things about this phenomena.
First, the policies Republicans have been advocating for the last 30 years have almost universally had the opposite effect their proponents claim. They haven’t ever worked. Ever. They are economic and scientific Brawndo.
Second, the people who are most harmed by this counterfactual, anti-science, empirically disproven, corporate claptrap are the very ones who support the corporate-owned candidates who spew it. They repeat the sound bites with the same knuckle-dragging conviction as those 26th Century idiots defending Brawndo.
Third, the press simply reports this steaming pile of BS like an idiot stenographer, incapable of exposing the plain truth – this Party has been bought -- lock, stock and barrel -- by corporations and its policy prescriptions are literally killing the patient so the corporations might profit. Of course, the press has also been bought and paid for. Welcome to Idiocracy.
Democrats: setting themselves up to lose like slack-jawed yokels at a three-card monte festival
If Republicans are selling political Brawndo to their idiots, the Democrats leading candidate is guzzling it in secret.
Hillary Clinton has a long record of supporting center right policies such as trade agreements in general and the TPP in particular; the XL pipeline, fracking, off-shore drilling and an all-of-the-above energy policy; and hard right, hawkish wars including support for the Iraq invasion. Bottom line, Ms. Clinton has a record that puts her squarely in the corner of the Brawndo bunch, Wall Street, Corporatists and Plutocrats.
But within the last several months she’s taken such a hard left turn on these issues, she should be suffering from severe whiplash. Democratic voters certainly should.
But they’re not. She’s calling herself a progressive, shedding long held positions as if they were nothing more than an overcoat, and for the most part, folks don’t raise a peep. Not the voters, not the press, not the Party. Certainly not the Party, which long ago sold out to the Brawndo-bunch.
Ms. Clinton says she’s “evolved” as she’s gotten more information. “Evolved?” More like shape-shifting. And as she violently jerks further left, Democrats – like mouth-breathing rubes at the state fair – are plunking their money on her, as if this shape-shift were anything but an insincere pandering for votes, part of a long history of a say-anything, do-anything strategy to get elected. As if this whole cynical approach won’t haunt her – and therefore the rest of the Party -- in the general election.
Designing a campaign to defeat her will be as easy as taking Brawndo from a baby – her record of flip flops, her “sniper-fire in Bosnia” claims, and her entitled decision to use her own email combine to make her as vulnerable as a clay pigeon. In fact, running Hillary is just about the only way Democrats could lose this election.
But even folks who aren’t controlled by the Brawndo bunch, like unions and interest groups, seem to be falling for the ruse. Hell, the League of Conservation Voters just endorsed her, for god’s sake, by-passing Bernie Sanders who rates 15 points higher than her on their own frigging rating! Really?
The problem is, Party Apparatchiks like Carol Browner and John Podesta are running these outfits and the Party has been in the tank for corporations for so long, they can’t see the danger a Hillary Clinton nomination poses. If the mantra in Idiocracy was “Brawndo’s got electrolytes … it’s what plant’s crave,” then the Democratic Party’s equivalent is, “Corporations and fat cats got what candidates crave … money.”
Bernie Sanders -- Beyond a Brawndo election: What this country has desperately needed is a candidate who wouldn’t run a Brawndo election. Who had a strong moral and ethical center, who has a long and consistent track record as a progressive, and who was willing and able to confront the idiocy that has taken over both Parties. One who would call out Republicans on their failed policies, and the press on their reluctance to report the failures. One who would challenge the Democratic Party to do more than mumble progressive sound-bites every 4 years and play corporate lackey in between. One who would take on the moneyed interests not take money from them.
Incredibly, we have such a candidate in Bernie Sanders. Just as incredibly, the Democratic Party is spending more time explaining why he can’t be elected than they are trying to get him elected.
Even more incredible, since the emerging theme from the primaries is that the people aren’t interested in the same-ol, same-ol. They’re saying as clearly as it can be said, “We want new ideas;” and they’re lining up behind outsiders.
That Democrats see Bernie’s status as outside the mainstream as a liability as proof thatIdiocracy has arrived. It’s not, of course. The only thing that can make Bernie unelectable is to keep saying he is, over and over again, even as he generates huge crowds, unprecedented enthusiasm and record-breaking contributions from the people in the street.
With only about 30% of the people buying the Republican’s tired old bromides, the onlyway Democrats can lose this race is to run Hillary Clinton. Real progressives will stay home in droves, just as they did in 2014, and the rabid right-wing 30% will show up, mindlessly repeating discredited mantras as they pull the lever that will screw themselves and the rest of us, too.
Yup. It’s looking like Idiocracy arrived five centuries early, last night. Looks like 2016 will be a good year for the Brawndo-bunch.
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John Atcheson is author of the novel, A Being Darkly Wise, an eco-thriller and Book One of a Trilogy centered on global warming. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Baltimore Sun, the San Jose Mercury News and other major newspapers. Atcheson’s book reviews are featured on Climateprogess.org.