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American Idiocracy: A Rant

Next month’s mid-term election is about more than individual issues, more than about jobs—and even more than about the economy. It is is about the entire direction of this country: where we’re headed socially and culturally, politically.

There was a time several years ago that I felt those on the extreme right were a fringe minority. They could be dismissed as throwbacks to the flat-earth society who longed for a return to the good old Father Knows Best days of the 1950s. But I also could see the start of an interesting strategy—a grass roots strategy that meant candidates from the fringes of the right got elected to school boards and park districts, library boards and village boards. All politics is local, after all, and where better to train for politically larger goals than in local government. 

But it’s only been in the last couple of years that the fringe has encroached on the mainstream, emboldened by Sarah Palin’s rock stardom. And with her successes, and fueled by radio talkers like Rush, TV icons like Glen Beck (dare I say that these guys have made Bill O’Reilly appear moderate?), the far right has taken center stage. And the “mainstream” conservatives have quaked in mortal fear—not of their souls, but of their (Congressional) seats.

Those who lean farther to the right than they’ve had the courage to express aloud these many years feel emboldened to show their truer colors. The Republican’s Right Wing has gone mainstream. Heck, even Ronald Reagan would have been booed out of Christine O’Donnell’s Grand Old Party.

For their part, the Democrats have simply stood there and allowed the Right to set the agenda, frame the debate and force them rightward, afraid of losing their seats. Well, personally, I’m afraid too.

I’m afraid of a nation run by policy makers who believe evolution is a myth; who believe climate change is nothing to worry about and may even be beneficial to us. (Tell that to the polar bears who have smaller and smaller bits of icebergs on which to rest their weary paws.) 

I’m afraid that we may be headed for a time when we are a “Christian Nation” by fiat, birth control pills are illegal, and so is abortion. A land where Thomas Jefferson goes missing from the nation’s schoolbooks along with any sense of intellectual rigor. It may not happen this year, or even in 2012. But it’s coming.

So here’s my plea to you dissatisfied, disappointed and discouraged (Democratic and Independent) voters whose expectations of Barack Obama’s first term fell a bit short. Don’t vote—stay home on November 2—and you shall reap what you sow. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Doug Hunter

    You’re afraid. That’s right where they want you.

    Others are afraid of the same things. Their afraid of a loss of intellectual rigor, that the 3R’s and our lead in the hard sciences will be instead replaced with sociology, diversity, and gender studies indoctrination. They’re afraid that the minor effects of an increase in the trace gas CO2 will be used as an excuse for large scale takeover of rights and resources from individuals. They’re afraid of a callous world where it’s OK to kill something (fetuses in this case) if it inconveniences you. Fetuses become babies that are hard to take care of, but so are the elderly, disabled, etc., etc. They’re afraid of handing too much power over their lives to government bureacrats and selling their children into permanent debt slavery so that they can buy the selfish illusion that someone else is paying for their retirement and healthcare.

    Unlike you, they are willng to compromise. They are willing to allow states rights. Whatever cockamamie big government scheme you have up your sleeve you’re welcome to try out in your own state. Give everyone free houses and healthcare and helicopters for all they care.

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Are you talking to me? Must be. How do you know what I’m willing to compromise and what I’m not? Compromise? I don’t think it’s in their manifesto.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “They’re afraid of a callous world where it’s OK to kill something (fetuses in this case) if it inconveniences you.”

    How about in the case of prisoners and those who live in countries we are at war with? They don’t seem to afraid of the callousness required to deal with those inconveniences.

    And what have you done to help with abortion? Have you offered to help a young girl out by adopting her baby?

  • Doug Hunter

    #3

    They don’t view the first as innocent victims, as they view a child.

    As to your other ridiculous question. I’ve never got someone pregnant who didn’t want a child and I’ve taken fine care of the children I do have. I live by example, if everyone followed those two rules then we wouldn’t need abortion.

  • Doug Hunter

    Note: That would also take care of a large share of those in poverty as well.

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    #4 Good for you. Not everyone does.

    They believe so strongly in the sanctity of life most believe in capital punishment. (Even knowing how many mistakes are made in executions, but hey.)

    Oh, and that sanctity of life thing? That only applies of course if you are old, sick and poor, have a pre-existing condition or are an illegal immigrant.

  • Doug Hunter

    My personal opinion pleases no one. I believe a woman should be able to have an abortion, but I’d like to see late term abortion off limits. Sort of a right to choose, just in a timely fashion. That’s sort of the standard anyway, just put it into law.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    You’re overreacting in this article, Barabara. I might even go so far as to call it fearmongering. Even on the right. Hell, even on the Christian right. The number of people who want to impose Christian doctrine or anti-evolution claptrap as policy is a tiny, tiny minority which may make a lot of noise, but doesn’t get a lot of real attention when it comes to making policy.

    This kind of issue makes great fodder for debates and demonizing and fearmongering, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of political action and setting policy it’s largely irrelevant to everyone.

    Dave

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Dave–I don’t think I’m overreacting, although it seems so. This has been a slow build over a period of years. And it’s gotten more play and more power over time.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “They don’t view the first as innocent victims, as they view a child.”

    I am sure the people falsely imprisoned fail to appreciate the distinction.

  • Arch ConscienceStain

    This kind of issue makes great fodder for debates and demonizing and fearmongering, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of political action and setting policy it’s largely irrelevant to everyone.

    Dave should know. He is the expert in fearmongering.

    Please, politics these days is 100% fearmongering. Have you no shame? No self-awareness. Naw.

  • zingzing

    “I live by example, if everyone followed those two rules then we wouldn’t need abortion.”

    wow. do we have a king here? a world leader? a shining beacon for humanity and morality? a god?

    “I believe a woman should be able to have an abortion, but I’d like to see late term abortion off limits.”

    with some exceptions, you sound like a good liberal. but you come off as something different…

    “That’s sort of the standard anyway, just put it into law.”

    yes, it is! wow! congrats! “mission accomplished,” as they say. what do you think liberals believe? “kill all babies?” this isn’t “red china,” you know. or regular china. or the kind of china your mother gives to your girlfriend when she becomes your wife, and then constantly berates her about how she uses or cleans it, and then takes it back and causes some sort of china-rift. it’s not that kind of china. fuck that kind of china. that kind of china can go to hell.

  • Doug Hunter

    “wow. do we have a king here? a world leader? a shining beacon for humanity and morality? a god?”

    No, just doing what most sensible people do. Most of us have never committed a major crime, or dumped kids on the system, etc., etc. but we all pay dearly for the minority of folks who do.

    “with some exceptions, you sound like a good liberal. but you come off as something different…”

    On social issues, probably so. The difference is my view on the role of government, a tool who’s sole purpose is compelling people to do things against their will (while maintaining a nice monopoly on violence). When someone’s will is to kill you and fear of government response prevents it, it’s great. Other issues are not so cut and dry.

  • Arch Conservative

    Yes Barbara…..anyone that is not a card carrying union member, reading the daily KOS daily, still displaying their “hope and change” bumper sticker is a right wing bible thumper who doesn’t believe in evolution, hates the poor, women, homsexuals, and all minorities and is secretly hoping for the sun to burn the earth to a crisp in the next ten years.

    Is that the just of your article.

    [Edited]

  • Clavos

    “They’re afraid of a callous world where it’s OK to kill something (fetuses in this case) if it inconveniences you.”

    Have never understood this horror (from nearly everyone, regardless of political ideology) of callousness and killing. Isn’t that what Darwinism is all about? How else do we cull the defectives and morons from the herd? How else, if not with the occasional war, do we keep the species from overrunning the planet?

  • Ruvy

    Barbara, [Edited] If there are elections, and if their likely effect is allowed to take place, Obama’s “hope and change” will be shown to be little hope and small change. But you do sound scared. I like that….

  • Arch Conservative

    You’re correct Ruvy. Barbara and all of the other leftist whackadoos are scared and angry. Angry because a golden opportunity to turn this nation into the Marxist utopia they’ve long dreamed of just passed before their very own eyes. Scared because the prospect of the majority realizing just how toxic to humanity their beliefs are.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t believe, Barbara, your take is right. The upcoming elections are about the economy. Just think. If the unemployment picture were greatly improved, the Democrats wouldn’t be in the heap of trouble. The same people who had put Obama in office would turn in equal numbers on behalf of the party. But they’re not going to.

    Nor it is about the direction this country is going. There hasn’t been any change in direction for the two years past, only an illusion of change. The Establishment is still running the show, party colors notwithstanding, regardless of whether we’re talking health reforms, financial reforms, or our military engagements. It’s precisely this anti-establishment spirit that resulted in the rise of the Tea Party, and it’s a good thing.

    As to fringe ideologies and fringe issues such as abortion, that’s all they are – fringe. Surely, they’re being exploited amidst the sea of economic discontent, and it falls on receptive ears for that very reason. But they’ve always been fringe and they’re going nowhere, just like our political system is going nowhere. We’re only spinning the wheels.

  • Arch Conservative

    Roger, am I mistaken or have you seen the light?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Archie, I’ve never been a party hack simply toeing the line. I thought you knew that.

  • Arch Conservative

    Yeah but I’ve never heard you frame our current political situatuion the way you just did either.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m beginning to realize, Archie, that it is the State which is the root of all evil; the government is only there to do the State’s bidding. Consequently, big government only adds insult to injury, for it enables the State.

  • Clavos

    OK, Roger, I must admit to a bit of confusion here.

    What is the difference between the state and the government?

  • zingzing

    archie: “Angry because a golden opportunity to turn this nation into the Marxist utopia they’ve long dreamed of just passed before their very own eyes.”

    it’s better to know your enemy, rather than just making up nonsense.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m still trying to get clear on the difference(s). “Government” is not the most happy term in this context for it’s equally through-and-through political connotations. But take an intermediate case – that of a corporation and the board of directors.

    What I’m getting at, I suppose, is the difference between a political entity (or a construct) and those charged with management/administrative duties. It is arguable, for example, that a State (or a corporation) would dissolve in the absence of the board of directors. What about a political community, a more neutral political term than “the State”? Can we think of a political community as existing while the managers and administrators are on a holiday? More importantly, perhaps, can we make a valid distinction between a political community and those charged with administrative functions? It would seem we can.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    In response to those saying that this election is about the economy, that’s all the more reason NOT to give control back to the Republicans. Who ran the country into the ground for eight years? Who ran up a record deficit? Sure, Obama has added to the debt, but he had to to keep us from sliding into another Great Depression. Did you have a better plan?
    Obama got a number of bills passed in his first year that were beneficial. Credit card protections, increased educational funding, some health care reform. Not nearly enough health care reform, and no, as much as I’d like it myself, I’m not talking about a public option. We need cost controls to keep the insurance companies from screwing us more than they already are, and system-wide reform to bring down costs period.
    I won’t argue that the Democrats in Congress have been pretty useless. They have. They have a majority, but they still kowtow to the Republicans at most opportunities. However, I’d rather have useless than negative, and the Republicans that ran things for most of the last decade got us involved in a war over false pretenses, suspended constitutional rights and privacy, ran up great debt, and lowered taxes for the rich while bringing down the middle class. Let’s give the Democrats a couple more years, and if they’re still struggling, then consider change. I certainly don’t want these Tea Partiers and their radical ideas making bad change now.