We Are All Hooterville Now


Anyone preternaturally cheerful in general, nationalistic or optimistic about America’s future should read no further, doing so putting you at extreme risk of hurt feelings, the blues, of being dumped by the side of the road with a crippling case of the blahs, and royally bummed. If you’re searching for just the right person to heave your rosy outlook to the bottom of a deep well you have come to the right place.

I don’t hate pigs, cows, farm implements, the smell of manure, overalls and kudzu-strangled woods anymore than say, The Velvet Underground, but I don’t like them anymore than they do either. Unfortunately for me, and for those in favor of civilization but willing to settle for that which novelist Jaroslav Hašek’s The Party of Moderate Progress Within the Bounds of the Law aspired, there isn’t going to be any moderation, and nary any progress, modest or otherwise.

If you thought the United States Senate killing a meager, watered-down gun safety bill (Never even made it to an up or down vote) favored by 90% of Americans was a rude anomaly you couldn’t be more wrong: it’s the present and it’s the future.

I already howled about the reasons in my proudly acrimonious dirge, Hee Haw Authoritarianism: Republicans vs. Everybody, and The New Republic, the Washington Post and the New York Times among others have laid them out in immaculate statistical terms. But it’s not just that the House of Representatives is gerrymandered, that demographics and geography favor rural, meagerly populated areas and gives them grossly disproportionate representation; it’s not just that the filibuster renders majority rule a folksy relic: it’s also that the Senate now so grotesquely misrepresents the actual population, so staggeringly over-represents small states and rural areas and uninhabited land that the majority of the population is now structurally and systematically excluded from influence over its own destiny in our nominally democratic country.

So Wyoming, which I suppose is the equivalent of Graceland for Cheney lovers, total population 576,000, less inhabited than my L.A. neighborhood gets the same number of senators as 38 million of us here in California. So gun idolatry is destined to remain the national religion, and denim bibs the national uniform if you aren’t careful. As a warning to those with normal infuriation triggers, and more urgently those prone to ralphing after swallowing indigestible statistics, stop now before you read the next sentence. The 38 million who live in the 22 smallest states are represented by 44 senators, California’s 38 million by 2. You fancy folks in New York City or Miami or Chicago, or Cleveland or Akron or Charlotte or San Francisco who prefer Cosmopolitans over moonshine your government has a simple message for you: blow me.

With an irony so blatant it would make Voltaire and Milan Kundera blush, those elected by these ordinary folks go on to represent the interests of the plutocrats and the corporations, and certainly never ordinary Americans, pushing extreme ideologies that view average citizens as Ayn Rand condemned takers and plodding drones who deserve only to be guided by their betters. So this is the situation: This collection of cynics, scum and nut jars are entrenched in our legislative bodies like a rotten tooth making one’s entire head hurt, while dentists remain a civilized luxury well beyond reach.

The good news for those readers still not draped over a porcelain repository is that at the presidential level at least, elections remain determined by a national electorate, meaning the country’s actual demographic makeup and majoritarian interests still matter. That means at least we have Obama, whose actual power falls somewhere between Her Royal Highness and Prince Michael I of Romania.

It’s unclear what can actually be done about this situation. But thank god for alcohol.

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