After watching the state’s current political debates, I decided that our society has morphed into the one depicted in the 2006 comedy, “Idiocracy.” In the movie, an American slacker is transported into the future, where Americans have become idiots and he is a brain trust by comparison.
California is about to choose its next governor based on which particular issue is more pressing: Should Jerry Brown’s aide (or wife) have called Meg Whitman a “whore” after a telephone call in which the staff forgot to hang up the phone? Should Whitman have fired her immigrant housekeeper after it became clear the woman was here illegally?
Only an Idiocracy would be fixated on these non-issues.
This should be a big Republican year. One of the few congressional Republicans in trouble is Rep. Dan Lungren, who represents a district near Sacramento. In 1995, Rep. Henry Hyde criticized his friend Lungren because he authored the re-enactment of civil forfeiture laws that make it easy for law enforcement to take property on the slightest pretext. Forfeiture is a huge liberty and property rights issue, or should be.
Yet Lungren’s opponent, Ami Bera, is running a boilerplate left-wing campaign that never mentions this. And Bera refused my requests to talk. “He would love to talk about those issues,” his communications director said. “But we have a psychotic schedule.” Oh sure.
A grassroots group that opposes eminent domain abuse sent questionnaires to statewide constitutional candidates asking whether they agree with the state Senate motto saying that “the highest duty of our representatives is to protect the liberty of the people.” While the third-party candidates answered the question, none of the major candidates even answered these liberty questions. No surprise. Liberty is not on their agenda.
I was talking to a Republican Assemblyman — his name is irrelevant, because this can apply to almost any one of them. He talks about the Constitution, but was adamantly against Proposition 19, which would legalize marijuana. His argument: Legalization will make its use more prevalent, and it will add to the taxpayer burden for weed-addled welfare bums. Here we see that the conservative argument is no different than the liberal movement’s.
Both sides say that since taxpayers are paying the bills, government should set the rules. Both sides are for freedom when it comes to behaviors they like and against it with regard to behaviors they don’t like.
Which is why we end up with absurd scenes such as the one at a health-food store in Venice. As reported in July by the Los Angeles Times (and referred to this month by comedian Stephen Colbert), “With no warning … investigators entered an organic grocery with a search warrant … .” The four officers drew their guns and found what they were looking for: “unmarked jugs of raw milk.”
Any society where armed officers raid a store because the government doesn’t allow the sale of unprocessed milk is not really free. And when candidates would rather talk about nannies and w-words than freedom issues, that society is on the verge of becoming an Idiocracy. Or maybe it has already become one and we’re just too stupid to have noticed.
Steven Greenhut is editor in chief of CalWatchdog.com, a news and investigative journalism site covering state government. He is author of “Plunder! How Public Employee Unions Are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives And Bankrupting The Nation.”