Good ideas are like viruses. They grow and spread despite our best efforts to stop them. And yes, our bulbous, awkward species does indeed work very hard to catch and kill good ideas.
At the time I write this column, the first Democratic primaries are approaching with the zest and excitement of an unavoidable bowel movement. Even if you read this a year or two or 10 from now, primaries will still be advancing toward you. As sure as the universe expands, the primaries approach. The moment we finish one election season, another is on the horizon.
This serves two purposes. First, it continuously makes voters think that we matter, that we have a lot of sway over the course this country takes. We don’t. (Well, not as much as we think we do.) And the second purpose is to fill the mainstream media airwaves with vacuous political play-by-play for two straight years. For example, by covering the three-point shift in Pete Buttigieg’s likability amongst Iowans (which matters as much as a three-point shift in the average Iowan’s concern about getting trichinosis from undercooked anchovies), the corporate media cogs can avoid talking about the exploitation of American workers or the massive debt crushing most people or the environmental collapse gripping the planet or the highly advanced, highly illegal surveillance state in which we live.
Our electoral politics is a beautiful smokescreen for the ruling elite.
1) Medicare for All
This is the idea that if you’re 5 years old and you break your arm, no matter how little you get paid at your child labor job, you shouldn’t have to fix your broken arm yourself with a papier-mâché cast made from soiled Kleenex and bird poop. Although Medicare for All was initially put forward by the Green Party and left-wing activists, and now it’s a mainstream discussion. The idea perseveres despite interminable attacks from the moneyed and the well-heeled as they sit neck-deep in mountains of top-shelf health care. (I hear many of them get young blood transfusions just for kicks on the weekend.) The rich continue to espouse one of the worst systems in the developed world, as if it’s somehow justifiable that two-thirds of Americans who declare bankruptcy each year do so partially because of health care costs.
2) The Green New Deal
This is an economic proposal that would give a majority of Americans a job and switch to renewable energy, among other things. Basically it would solve both our fossil fuel death spiral and unemployment problems in one fell swoop. It was put forward initially by the Green Party and left-wing activists, but then it quickly rose to the level of mainstream discussion, resulting in a bill by Congress. This is an impressive feat even though there are criticisms of the Democratic rewriting of the Green New Deal (such as its failure to address the military-industrial complex, which happens to be the largest polluter in the known world, but maybe we’ll find a lost tribe in the Amazon that runs a few hundred thousand warships on diesel and then our Pentagon will drop down to the second biggest polluter).
3) Legalizing Marijuana
If I have to explain what this is to you, then you clearly haven’t turned on a television in the past 50 years nor caught a glimpse of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” (the show, the movie, the action figure, the comic book, the video game, the candy or the song). The legalization of cannabis in all its nifty forms has rapidly spread across the country—which is not just crucial to people who have gained tremendous medical benefits from cannabis but also crucial for anybody who needs to get viciously baked in order to watch the impeachment hearings (which is the only legitimate way to watch the impeachment hearings).
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Marijuana has become so widely accepted that Joe Biden recently became a laughingstock when he called weed a “gateway drug.” Yes grandpa, the evil weed is a gateway drug, and rock music is the devil’s work, and dancing with a girl before marriage can cause one’s phallus to fall off. … Not to mention, who is Joe Biden to tell us not to get a little loopy at the end of a long day? How many prescription meds must it take that guy to simply put on his pants each morning?
4) $15 Minimum Wage
I don’t have to tell you why this matters. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. You know what you can buy with $7 these days? A Ding-Dong out of the vending machine. So maybe, after a worker has labored for 39 straight hours, he can tether all the Ding-Dong packages together into a rudimentary raft that will allow him to float downriver to somewhere that treats him better. At $7.25 an hour, no one can possibly get by. I did the math: You’d have to work for 3700 years just to afford a ticket to the Mötley Crüe reunion tour. (And they’re not even good. Imagine if you wanted tickets to see someone good.)
5) Distrust of Mainstream Corporate Media
Even if you’re one of these certifiable nut-bags who still turns on CNN or Fox News every day all day, you still understand that you’re not getting the full truth. You might think you’re getting a piece of it, but not all of it. … Also, you should be euthanized.
(Okay, maybe not euthanized, but anyone who leaves cable news on in the background just to feel warm and cozy should at the very least be left on a faraway island to live out their days. If you’re one of them, please stop it. Corporate media crap is not the audio version of your childhood blankey. It’s pathetic PROPAGANDA. … Sorry to yell.)
6) Distrust of U.S.-Backed Coups and War Games
Most Americans are opposed to endless war now. We’re opposed to harming and killing so many millions in the name of propping up our bloated, belligerent empire that eats entire nations and then vomits up new KFC franchise locations. Obviously the growing disgust among most of the country has not managed to stop the bombs from falling, but it’s a start.
I’m sure you don’t have the time to read the entire list of ideas that were once considered far left and are now mainstream vibrant discussions—abolishing ICE, holding police accountable, distrusting the intelligence community AKA the surveillance state, questioning capitalism, ending factory farming, confronting the extreme climate crisis, etc. etc. Sure, our elections are rigged in favor of the two corporate Wall Street-funded parties. And yes, our media is owned and operated by the largest, most aggressive corporations in the world leaving little to no room on the air for the anti-war activists offering free hugs and senseless acts of kindness. But that’s why it’s all the more impressive that in so many areas, we are winning the seemingly endless battle for the mindscape of our country.