How stupid are we?
In the 2006 Mike Judge film Idiocracy, we get a look, albeit a fictitious and darkly comic one, of the world 500 years into the future, when the consequences of anti-intellectualism, careless breeding and child-rearing, unchecked corporate culture, lack of foresight and lowest-common denominatorism have come to pass. So the garbage is piled higher than skyscrapers, Starbucks serves both coffee and prostitutes, the president of the United States is named Camacho and the most popular show on television is something called “Ow! My Balls.”
It’s pure fantasy, of course, but like all good satire, there is a disturbing kernel of truth: We are stupid. Or, at least, everybody thinks we are. How else to explain the ascendancy of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to the status of celebrity in the Republican Party? She is the poster child for failed policy: an anti intellectual in the same mold as George Bush but without the nepotized Ivy-League creds; an abstinence-only advocate with a pregnant, unwed teenage daughter; a self styled “reformer” who has plundered more than her fair share of earmarks and allegedly used her power to settle a family beef; governor of the least-populated state in the union whose expertise in foreign policy stems from her role as commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard and her proximity to Russian soil. But hey! Get a look at her: She’s a woman, just like that Hillary Clinton y’all seem to like so much, but so much easier on the eyes. Conservative bloggers have already dubbed her the VILF, and the methuselean McCain looks more youthful and spry just standing next to her. They might as well call it the Elektra Ticket. Those of us in the reality-based world might have been somewhat surprised when, flushed with the heat generated by the nomination of a political nobody to the Republican presidential ticket, Sen. John McCain’s campaign manager Rick Davis said this election has nothing to do with the issues. “This election is about a composite view of what people take away from these candidates,” he told the Washington Post. And here we thought that the election as about choosing someone smart enough to pull this country out of the nosedive it’s been in for nigh on seven years, someone conciliatory enough to reunite a country broken bitterly into two distinct camps, to restore our status as moral, economic and intellectual leaders in a world that has moved on without us. So who’s stupid now?
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