The more things change…..
In an increasingly complex world, many people find it difficult to cope with the stresses of day to day life. The strain of caring for a family, paying the mortgage, job insecurity, and terrorists lurking at the Dairy Queen, can result in crushing anxiety and fear. But now, from the makers of The War in Iraq™ and Katrina Neglect™ comes a breakthrough in the treatment of depression caused by incompetent and dishonest national leadership. Now there is an alternative to the endless years of suffering brought on by deficient representation.
After extensive research and focus grouping, the Republican National Committee is proud to introduce Republichol™ for the treatment of Latent Impotent Electoral Syndrome (LIES). Republichol™ is specially formulated to deceive the patient into believing that the utterly discredited Republican Party is actually pursuing an agenda of change. American voters can now enjoy the relief and satisfaction that comes from masking reality with comforting platitudes.
If there is a defining theme for 21st century politics, it is “Change.” Every actor on the political stage has extolled its virtues. Barack Obama promises “Change you can believe in.” Hillary Clinton touts her record of “35 years of change.” Even George Bush stakes out this territory:
“In 2000, I said, ‘Vote for me, I’m an agent of change.’ In 2004, I said, ‘I’m not interested in change. I want to continue as President.’ Every candidate has got to say ‘change.’ That’s what the American people expect.”
In his own, nearly incomprehensible way, Bush admits that he wasn’t interested in change even as he asserts that every candidate has to embrace it. His lack of comprehension is a hallmark of the party he leads. This is why House minority leader, John Boehner, personally developed the Republichol™ campaign and it’s slogan “The Change You Deserve.” The slogan was carefully composed to avoid the promise of change that you need, or change that will actually be beneficial. By focusing on change that you deserve, Republichol’s™ patented time-release formula distributes any change on the basis of personalized determinations of merit. For instance:
- Oil companies deserve control over protected off-shore and wilderness areas.
- Telecom companies deserve retroactive immunity for crimes against innocent customers.
- Defense contractors deserve international hostilities that create demand for their products.
- The media deserve military analysts who are secretly provided and coached by the Pentagon.
- Health insurers and drug manufactures deserve freedom from regulations that inhibit their ability to gouge patients.
- Corporations deserve to consolidate into unregulated monopolies.
- The top 1% of American income earners deserve more tax relief.
- American workers deserve to have their jobs outsourced to India and China.
- Iraqi civilians deserve to be killed in the tens of thousands.
- Veterans deserve reduced benefits and substandard treatment for service related injuries.
- Women deserve prosecution for exercising choice with regard to family planning.
- Children deserve limited access to, and lower standards for, education.
- Voters deserve to be disenfranchised by special interests, discrimination, and insecure voting technology.
- Middle class households deserve to pay more in taxes, as a percentage of income, than the wealthy.
- Citizens of the world deserve widespread climate catastrophes brought on by global warming.
The Republican model has conveniently defined the deserving as those who have already acquired wealth and power (thank you Ayn Rand). This is enormously helpful in the development of guidelines for dispensing benefits under the new Republican program for change.
Unfortunately, the new slogan was not composed carefully enough to avoid infringing on another product that already claimed “The Change You Deserve” as its marketing mantra. Wyeth Laboratories trademarked the phrase for its Effexor XR anti-depressant medication. While this sort of conflict might ordinarily result in costly litigation, the Republican Party and the multi-national drug maker are notoriously friendly and a mutually acceptable accommodation is expected. In fact, this partnership may even expand marketing opportunities for both, as the implementation of Republican policy is likely to produce greater demand for anti-depressants like Effexor.
Not to be outdone, the Democratic Party has developed a product of its own to address mood disorders related to Weak/Unstable Shrinking Spine (WUSS). Democracyn™ works on brain functions to relax the patient’s outrage mechanism triggered by Congressional activity based on fear or self-interest. It can also be prescribed after legislative actions taken on behalf of corporations rather than constituents.
The pharmaceutical cocktail of Democracyn™ and Republichol™ provide a potent antidote to the travails of modern sociological distress. Taken together within a regimen that includes counseling, re-education, and aggressive doses of media punditry, a wall of delusion can be constructed that serves as a defense from the troubling realities of civic life. And as the people become less agitated by affairs of state, those who serve as our representatives benefit as well. Remember, a medicated electorate is a compliant electorate. What began 200 years ago as an experiment in Democracy has evolved into a Pharmocracy™ – an institution defined by two dominant characterizations:
- Pseudo-representational legislative bodies that seek to control the behavior of populations through the use of psychoactive propaganda and sedative rhetoric.
- Constituent bodies that are heavily medicated and susceptible to the influence of media-dispensed government perspectives.
The media itself plays a major role in the advancement of Pharmacratic principles. No institution in American society is as effective at mood manipulation as the media. As metaphorical opiates go, television has replaced religion in the veins of the masses. Consequently, all sides are rushing to revitalize their brand. The problem for Republicans, however, is that their brand has been severely damaged by the present administration. Even Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee confessed that:
“The Republican brand is in the trash can. … If we were a dog food, they would take us off the shelf.”
That’s even worse than my own brand analysis (The Republican Scare: A Branding Nightmare) written in June of 2007, in response to Boehner’s previous attempt to rehabilitate his Party’s brand. The Republican Scare was how I analogized the situation to the Tylenol Scare of 1982 (another drug calamity):
“After six years of a toxic administration whose policies have led to a poisoning of public discourse; with corruption infecting Capital Hill, the Justice Department, the Pentagon, and the White House; and a president whose market share is dipping into historic lows; Republicans have concluded that they need to persuade the American people that their brand of politics is safe for our families and our country.”
“…they are trying to design new packaging without enhancing product safety or purpose. While some of them recognize that it will take more than a fresh coat of varnish to restore their credibility, many are convinced that they can improve their image in the eyes of the public if they can just spin some more wool to pull over said eyes.”
After only a year, Boehner is back with the same crippled brand but a brand new PR effort to polish his bruised political fruit. But the Republican brand is rotting in the mud. There seems to be little likelihood that the new “change” campaign will see any more success than the failed campaign it’s replacing.
For real change to take place, the American people need to complete a program of detoxification. They need to flush the poisons from the political system, which will require flushing some of the politicians as well. When finally cleansed of contamination we will have a chance to implement a true reform agenda. One that consists of more than the placebos prescribed by cynical Republican quacks who think that they can dictate what we each deserve.