Idiocracy Rising

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Politically Incorrect, Factually Crazy: The Rise of the Ignorant American

stupid pregnant hillbilly couple

Watch out for pregnant hillbilly couples

Some of us—depending on the ilk we follow on our Facebook feeds—might have caught wind already of the following. The intellectually sleepy little town of Woodland, North Carolina recently shot down a zoning ruling that would have allowed for the construction of 100% clean-energy harvesting solar panels, and from there went on to issue a moratorium on any such thing ever being built in the entirety of Woodland’s future. The principal antagonist steering the town council meeting had introduced the issue of the supposed sunlight-sucking vampire panels steering photosynthetic fuel away from local crops and vegetation, destroying it all in the panels’ wake. For some of those present—a vocal, voting some of them—it was easy enough to believe.

If you hadn’t had to think before spitting out your coffee in disbelief at the above, then congratulations! Your American public school education has at least afforded you the wits to appreciate that solar energy production no more “sucks up the sun” than you do yourself when you lay out on a towel in the yard, or leave a jar of tea to steep on your porch–in fact, there’s little humankind, even today, could possibly do that would have any effect on the incandescent gas giant that anchors our solar system.

Or, conversely, if the above has reinforced in you some knee-jerk proclivity to unthinkingly parrot the fantastical and dumb—welcome, readers from Woodland! Because the damndest thing is that the case made against these helio-sapping economic boons is that it was made by, to hear all earnest reportage tell it, a “retired Northampton science teacher.” Yes, a teacher, who by every reasonable measure should know better—but her students, pitiably, should maybe be forgiven for knowing essentially nothing. Had they dissected worms in her biology class but just to make stew?

Like all things in life today, this involves the sure despotism of a potential President Donald J. Trump. A bit more exposition should make that plain.

Brookfield, Ohio has never in its history been on the vanguard of anything other than poor white people using outhouses. Decades ago, when nearby Youngstown was still in its Steel-belt heyday, Brookfield nevertheless remained a real backwater affair. And when Youngstown’s mill jobs were shipped overseas, Brookfield was demoted to the sort of place in which natives might have been able to afford a studio apartment, so long as they could still scavenge the discarded dumpster hamburgers due to their landlords monthly. That is to say: home values were nil, as was the quality of life.

Strangely, Youngstown—or Yompton, as it was known not just 15 years ago–has experienced, through competent governance, an astounding economic renaissance. The perennially impoverished Brookfield, a mere stone’s-throw away, has not. Wherein lies the difference? One worthwhile answer might be found in Ohio’s levy system.

Ohio, for the uninitiated, is something more of an Athenian democracy than the rest of our country. Initiatives are posted as ballot measures, left not to representatives, but to the people. Which is all well and good, so long as an educated middle class is involved. But put yourself in the shoes—or the voting booth—of your average Brookfielder. The economy suffocates you to the point that a 0.001 percent tax hike for schools would seem impossible to swing. You pass, you vote no; your children have to eat, after all. In ten years’ time those kids have graduated, and their alma mater has no choice but to keep trotting out their same old weathered textbooks, replete with previously undiscovered inaccuracies and decades’ worth of crudely-etched penis drawings. In some short years more, your adult progeny are unable to secure the same work as their better-educated brethren, and similarly unable to muster that once-again needed hike in school funding. They too vote it down—and this compounds over decades, until all that is certain is ignorance, a terrible lack of opportunity, and an inarticulate anger that, effectively powerless, stabs straight out at whatever it can.

This is really not the tale of Brookfield, Ohio, nor of the laughably backwards anti-science sun-succubus superstitions that would have had even Dark Age-dwellers in stitches (“Sucking up the sunlight—good one, you simple flat-earther”). It’s the story of how dumb, we as Americans, have allowed ourselves to become—and how that destroys our own self-interests, our future, and the future of our children.

Crazy lunatic window licker licks windows

Window-Lickers will make up 47% of the next generations’ population

Have we mentioned Donald Trump? Of course we have. To his credit, he’s hardly so stupid as his boisterous followers—the Donald, at very least, is a masterful manipulator of teeny-tiny outrageous soundbarfs, the sort that keep him in the headlines—the sort that affirms what our least thinking countrymen wish they could articulate on NBC’s The Apprentice. The best of us suspect that he cannot honestly believe what he says—he’s an ugly soul, sure, but really no dummy. He doesn’t represent you. He panders. He knows enough to go straight for the easy mark.

And who are you, you easy mark? You’ve had a rough time economically. Things never went so well as they were supposed to—the jobs went away, as did your comfortable future, as did your hope. And as your livelihoods shrank away and disappeared, so did your community’s ability to steel your children for any bright future—the funding simply was not there. In the 1970s, in the 1980s, in every moment since, you were beaten down. You know you’ve been wronged, that you’ve got no real escape plan—and that your underfunded school district is struggling to put tater-tots on your kids’ lunch plates, as are you.

As per the candidates and their crazy talk, the unending litany of bullcrap proclamations met with scorn by all the loathsome fact-checkers? You’ll accept it; you’ll pivot your whole being towards it. When the Panderer promises to “Make America great again,” you’d prefer to leap at the empty, feel-good sentiment, rather than consider the implications of his policies. When Trump and his brood offend every conceivable swath of the populace a President is sworn to represent, save the wealthy white ones, you roll with it. He speaks from your simmering rage, and honestly, that kind of championing is due. But he will not lift you up—you’re a cog in his machine. That machine cannot operate without your complicity. That machine does not care to hear your silly, useless input—after all, weren’t you the kid raised in Sunsucker’s Glenn, North Carolina?

Woodland, Brookfield, and all places like them: you’re worth better. Better than your hard luck, and better than some bitter resignation to stay the course. You’re a far better people than to leave yourselves uninformed, to embrace some Jeff Foxworthy-style caricature of your worst. You know the sun cannot be gobbled up from here, from terra firma—you’ve got no obligation to indulge such craziness. A carnivore like Trump, or any other predator in his pride, would love to get your complicit blood greasing their machine. But for your own sake? For the sake of your job, your golden years, your retirement savings, the future of your whole familial endeavor? Own your own potential and better your minds. Never mind the conventional adage; the best defense again tyranny is a well-informed populace. Countrymen, please, lay down your ignorance–for your sake, and for that of the nation.

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