SCENE: The handheld camera walks to the door of the basement headquarters of “MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com”. A crudely hand-lettered sign on the door reads “Wingnuts NOT ALOUD”.
The camera steps down the stairs into the hidden lair where the magic happens. Around a table, eyes glued to TV in an entertainment center along the wall, are MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com’s writing staff; Aaron Roston, Gutterball Gary, Cat Scat, Leaky The Beagle, Betty Rae Torstengaardsen and Avery Librelle. At the head of the table, slouching in a folding chair, nervously running his hand through his hair, is Edmund DuChey, wearing a name-tag that identifies himself as the “Publisher” and “Senior Managing Executive Editor” of MinnesotaLiberalAlliance.Blogspot.com.
The assembled group is watching as the closing credits roll on the Democrat debate. Starting with DuChey, the group breaks into wan applause.
GUTTERBALL GARY: YEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! (Nobody bats an eye)
LEAKY THE BEAGLE: (Speaking in an absurd phony German accent) Very intereshtink.
CAT SCAT: And every word was entirely true! I Googled it!
AARON ROSTON: Stupid wingnuts won’t know what hit them.
BETTY RAE TORSTENGAARDSEN: You know what I liked about Bernie Sanders? The positions he was talking about were almost identical to the positions of Nelson Rockefeller…
DUCHEY: (hissing, making “puke” symbol with his finger) He was a Republican
TORSTENGAARDSEN: Right – the point is, the Democratic party of today is right about where the Republican party was in 1968.
ROSTON: Right. And not that different from President Johnson.
DUCHEY: Peace be unto him.
LIBRELLE: And that was a time when the US was at its political and economic peak.
SCAT: Let me Google that…yes. It says so right here on “SmirkingChimp.com!” It’s a fact!
DUCHEY: I just wanna tell the stupid ignorant wingnuts to suck on that: when the US government was at its most progressive, we were at our economic and political peak.
BEAGLE: Very intereschtink.
(A brief burst of static and feedback erupts. A VOICE FROM ABOVE breaks in)
VOICE FROM ABOVE: Oh, that’s just stupid, people. Use your brains. In 1968, the US was the world’s only significant economy. Japan and Germany were just barely recovered from World War II. South Korea was trailing North Korea, economically. Singapore was a poverty-stricken third-world hellhole. Russia and China were gangster playgrounds that could barely feed their own people – indeed, China was still suffering famines. India was just descending into the nadir of its experience with socialism, and there was speculation that half of its people would starve to death by 1980. And we were able to import whatever oil that we didn’t produce, at incredibly favorable rates from impoverished countries that were happy for the business.
In 1968, the US was one of two military superpowers – but it was the only economic superpower. The entire world was its market. So the likes of LBJ and Nelson Rockefeller could feel free to write post-dated checks for fripperies like bottomless entitlement programs and count on the Growth Fairy to let future generations pay for them – because it’d worked just fine for…the previous 20 years or so.
We were like someone who’d just won the lottery, and was spending like there was no tomorrow.
ROSTON: Who is that?
SCAT: Let me google that…
TORSTENGAARDSEN: It’s a voice from above…
SCAT: Hah! Johnson wasn’t president until 1972! It says so on Crooks and Liars.com!
VOICE: In the seventies, Germany and Japan’s economies became competitive with ours, and OPEC and Iran sent tremors through our economy by jiggling the oil market on us. In the 1980s, South Korea and Singapore became significant players. In the 1990s, India threw off the worst excesses of socialism, and China pragmatically moved into state cartel capitalism, and suddenly they were legitimate competitors, too.
In other words, the US is no longer an economic hegemon. Extremely powerful, yes – but not dominant in the way we were in 1968. Which means we actually have to compete, and be smart.
So it’s fair and accurate to say that the US was at its political and economic peak in 1968 in spite of the likes of Rockefeller and LBJ, not because of them. And that our position of extreme economic dominance made their variety of entitlement-based government sustainable, for a while, provided that we retained absolute economic supremacy over the entire world.
ROSTON: This is freaky.
BEAGLE: Yezz, it izzz
GUTTERBALL: IT’S A SIGN!
TORSTENGAARDSEN: What the…
(Camera cuts to exterior shot. Mitch BERG, holding a bullhorn up to a window casing, looks into the camera lens, as he stands up to walk away)
BERG: What? I don’t get to have a little fun, too?
(BERG walks away to a waiting car, as the scene in the basement descends into panicky pandemonium)