Do you have a mopey young person in your family? Does he or she possess an all-ebony wardrobe, have a lop-sided haircut, and know what "latte" is? Is this "slacker" lying on your couch all day listening to Hootie and the Blowfish CDs? Or making a lifetime career out of going to college? Or still working in a Kinko's copy center at the age of 28? Or trying to get an NEA grant to write a film script about all of the above? And the nose ring — is negotiating a temporary removal for grandma's visit going to require the intervention of Jimmy Carter?
You may have a larva or pupa stage Democrat in your home. Try this test. Get the child's attention (extra latte helps). Now say, "Newt Gingrich." Did you receive the following reaction?
"Mom! Dad! [theatrical sigh] It's like . . . [eyes roll toward ceiling] Oh, man . . . "
Yes, a conservative tide is rising all across the political landscape of America, but some members of "Generation X" have climbed onto the outhouse roof of intellectualism and managed to keep their Doc Martens dry.
As a special service to our readers, TAS has enlisted P. J. O'Rourke to have a word with the youngsters. P.J. is the International Affairs Desk Chief at the with-it and trendy Rolling Stone magazine. He speaks their lingo. He knows Dr. Hunter S. Thompson personally. And he claims that he can actually tell the difference between Hootie and the Blowfish and the noise a washtub full of cats makes when you throw it down the cellar stairs. Clip this article and hand it to your child. It explains in language that young people can understand what's happening in Washington now that Republicans have won control of Congress and why those Republicans — schmucks that they are — are a good thing, even for people with tongue studs and facial tattoos. Who knows? It could change their lives. They might even get promoted to manager of Kinko's copy center.
REPUBLICAN hordes have descended on Washington. They rove where they will, sacking and looting, or, as it were, voting and golfing. Also talking on C-Span, listening to Rush Limbaugh, and signing enormous book deals. It is a frightful scene. Men risk having their taxes slashed in broad daylight. No woman is safe from dinner table conversations about unfunded mandates. Pathetic groups of unemployed Democrats huddle on Capitol Hill, homeless. House-less, anyway. Senateless, too.
The National Endowment for the Arts is threatened. "See here, Mr. Subsidized Dramatist, can't your characters die of something besides AIDS? How about a sword fight once in a while?" Public broadcasting is also at risk. Underprivileged children may be deprived of "All Things Considered." Woefully imperiled are all the accomplishments of the Clinton administration, such as ... such as ... Bill can forget about midnight basketball.
The Republicans want to do away with whole sections of government. The Department of Education doesn't have a prayer. (Ha, ha, a little Christian Coalition joke.) Numerous congressional committees have already been eliminated, causing a severe business downturn in America's snoozing, doodling, and yawn-suppression industries. The president was forced to make a conciliatory State of the Union speech, the short version of which was, "Hillary, you'd better go home and fix dinner." And heartless welfare reformers will soon be erecting grim, drafty orphanages all over the country. Speaking of which, now that Rose is dead, Ted Kennedy is technically an orphan. In you go, Teddy. And ... whack ... mind the nuns.
Everyone in the thoughtful, progressive, sensitive, compassionate, objective, and fair media world which I inhabit is awful upset about these darn Republicans. And I would be too, except I am one.
I hear thoughtful, progressive, sensitive hissy noises in the audience. "Tsk. Tsk. You write for Rolling Stone. We assumed you were too hip to be Republican." Yeah, hip, that's me. I'm hip from Hip Street and it gets hipper as you go along and my pad is in the last crib, Daddy-O. Navel ring? Tongue stud? Man, I went out and bought a three-foot barrel hoop and got one whole butt cheek pierced. Where I come from even the circus clowns dress all in black, and the only reason a dozen of them get in that little car is to show kids how miserably cramped life is for veal calves.
Call Earth. I'm a 47-year-old middle-class male with a job. Every hippy-dippy thing that's thought up — from heroin addiction to special vegan lunch lines in the local high school cafeteria — I get to pay for. Of course I'm Republican. But there is one shred of beatnikery to which I cling. I still detest authority. I always did. My every bedtime was a Bataan Death March. Cleaning my room, an exile to the mines of Siberia. I cannot see a school crossing guard without wishing for a grisly hit-and-run. Some credit their loss of faith to a beneficent deity permitting the existence of evil. I rail against God because I was told to stop eating paste in Sunday school class. To this day I will not bring the car home before eleven, even though it's my car and nobody lives in the house but me. And when I'm sent back through an airport metal detector, I scream that I have a steel plate in my head. "I'll sue you under the Americans with Disabilities Act! You'll be court martialed! You'll be busted to the lowest rank of the Airport Security Service and made to sit in front of a PA system microphone all day endlessly repeating, 'The space by the curb is for immediate loading and unloading only!'"
I spit on dominion and control. And the greater the power, the more my abomination. Which brings me to the subject of government. Great, hulking, greasy, obese, gobbling, omnivorous, ever-aggrandizing, fat-witted government — I am not its friend. In Washington, the Republicans are (in their wingtip-hobbled, suspender-entangled, Old Spice–befogged way) trying to destroy big government. The Republicans I like okay. The destruction I adore.
Think of what big governments have gotten up to in this century: not one but two world wars, the Gulag, the Holocaust, aerial bombing of civilian population centers, the Berlin Wall, nuclear explosions, the Post Office. A wicked individual might want these, but he wouldn't have the cash and connections to get them. A villainous corporation could afford them but has to market the products. The Vietnam draft would be a tough sell for even the most fiendish businessmen. "Get shot! Get killed! Get diseases from foreign women who despise you in their hearts!" And never mind the 32¢ postage stamp.
Governments do terrible things. All right, I sympathize. I do terrible things myself. Although it's getting harder to find somebody to do them with now that I'm 47 and a Republican. What bothers me is how the terrible government things are always for the greater common good. Communists, Nazis, and more than a few democratically elected leaders of the free world have told us in plain language that their loathsome acts were justified by felicific calculus — the most good for the greatest number. Censorship, genocide, the Volstead Act, wholesale expropriations of private property, segregation, religious persecution, mass deportations, and vaporizing Nagasaki have all been "for the good of the nation," "good for mankind," "good for us in the long run," "good for future generations."
Amazing how well-meaning, how virtuous, how good the people in authority always are. I guess good people are just naturally attracted to government. You remember them from high school — the Senior Class President, the Sophomore Class Secretary, the Chairgirl of the Junior Prom Decorations and Refreshments Committee. They weren't like some kids I could name, keeping the car out till all hours looking for crossing guards to run over. The kids in school government were good kids. Teachers liked them. Parents liked them. Why, you could take one of those kids — pry his sucker-like mouth off the career counselor's behind — and, heck, make him President of the United States. And we did.
The thing I like about Republicans is that they're no damn good at all. I know, I'm one of them. A Republican just wants to get rich, buy oceanfront property, dump the old wife and get a new blonde one who'll listen attentively while the Republican talks about unfunded mandates over the arugula salad.
Now Republicans aren't really evil. They'll save the rain forest if they have to. Tell them that's where all the golf ball trees grow. They'd better do something about the Amazon or they'll be teeing off with their kids' hackysacks. And if Republicans notice that their oceanfront property is all ocean and no front, they'll pass a law against polar ice cap melting in a minute. But these guys in the lime green pants hammering at bean bags with Ping three woods don't really care about global issues, much less social justice. The GOP majority in Congress is going to spend most of its time tinkering with the New Blonde Wife Act of 1995. And the rest of its energy will be devoted to giving Dutch rubs and (those insensitive Republicans) Indian rope burns to the enormous system of government that has been created over the past sixty years by the good people in authority who do care.
The activists, the advocates of worthy causes, the idealistic leaders, the self-sacrificing organizers — all the good people — care even more than you enlightened youth. They say, "Oh, you? You just buy Newman's Own salad dressing, give some money to PETA, wear a red ribbon on your bridesmaid's dress at your sister's wedding, and applaud for Barbra Streisand, and you think you've done your bit. Sure you care. But you only care about things like high-tension power lines when they're causing childhood cancers in your neighborhood. We care about high-tension power lines in places that don't even have electricity. We care so much we can't sleep. We can't eat. It wrecked our marriage. And because we care more than you do we're better people than you are. And because we're better people than you are we have the right — no, the duty — to tell you what to do."
Telling you what to do being the entire idea of big government, its agencies, experts, courts, laws, regulatory codes, and powers of taxation to fund health care reform so that if I have a traffic accident while trying to run over school crossing guards you pay my doctor bills. And the people who control that big government, the people who care so much, really are better than the rest of us.
You see, it's hard for us not-so-good people to accomplish things. If we want to prevent childhood cancers caused by high-tension power lines, we have to quit our jobs, go back to school and earn degrees in medicine, biochemistry, physics, and electrical engineering. Then we have to do years of research to determine whether or not high-tension power lines actually cause cancer. And, if they do, we have to remove all the high-tension power lines and convince 250 million people to light their homes with the little candles left over from the last big birthday cake the kid got before he died.
All a politician has to do is care. Staff and assistants handle the rest.
THIS is why it's so important for big government to get bigger. So it can help you. For instance, you can't find a good-paying job. That's because, in the 1980s, rich people took all the good pay and used it up. But big government can find a good-paying job for you because, when government gets bigger, there are more jobs in the government. These pay well. And, if you need money in the meantime, the government can print some for you because one of those good-paying government jobs is running the mint. That's just one way the government can help. And you need help, too. Because people are trying to do horrible things to you all the time, like the big food companies that put poison in your food so that you'll never buy food from any competing big food companies. The same thing with the car companies and all those dangerous cars they make. GM knows you can't go to a Ford showroom if you're a paraplegic and brain dead. You should sue. Big government means there are always plenty of judges and juries available. And you're a victim. You're a victim of lots of things. A victim of prejudice against racial minorities. Just look at all those smug white people with the good-paying government jobs. What did they do to deserve them? And so what if you're a smug white person yourself? With black and Hispanic birth rates going through the roof, you'll soon be a minority, too. Plus you're disabled. You may not know it. That would mean you have a cognitive disability exhibited by not knowing you're disabled. Perhaps you don't recall any difficulty walking, talking, seeing, etc. So you're suffering from repressed memory syndrome, too. Therapy can help. You were probably molested as a child by a beloved member of your household. It's all coming back now. Remember how Rover would run up and jam his nose into your ... You need a government program. And so does Rover. So do all the earth's animals. Whole species are facing extinction. Democrats just for starters.
You must know that the politicians loathe you. They think you're a moron. They have to make rules and regulations or you'd screw up everything. You'd fall right out of the car if it weren't for seatbelt laws. And you can't be trusted with money. You'd spend it on fatty foods and cigarettes or a power boat that would harm the environment. The politicians need to get that money away from you. They have to raise taxes quick. Better let the government look after your cash. Government will do worthwhile things with your paycheck, such as lend it to Mexico. And fund educational TV. Because you'd watch nothing but football and "Melrose Place" if it weren't for serious and informative nature programs about how Democrats are facing extinction. And you're as mean as you are stupid. You're too selfish to help the poor. So politicians have to take even more of what you earn and give it to poor people. Well, of course, politicians can't actually give that money to poor people. Then the poor people wouldn't be poor and would turn into Republicans or something. Poor people don't really need money anyway. They need government programs. And housing projects. And a large welfare bureaucracy to make sure they stay in the housing projects and don't get out and start wandering around the parts of town where politicians live.
But all my Republican buddies cavorting on Capitol Hill . . . aren't they politicians, too? Alas, you betcha. It would be nice if they stuck to the lovely task of destroying government. But there's no such thing as politicians who can mind their own business. Republican congressmen are going to want to make some positive contributions to our political system, and you may not feel too positive about that. For one thing, some of us Republicans are anti-abortion on the theory that every fetus is a Republican or, if adopted by a nice, rich family, will be when it turns 30. And some Republicans want children to read a prayer before school. Although whether it is the Republican insistence on children learning to pray or the Republican insistence on children learning to read that has the National Education Association so upset, I'm not sure. There are certain Republicans who would like to get rid of immigrants (these Republicans being under the impression that Pat Buchanan is a Cherokee name). If Republicans have their way, poor people in crime-ridden neighborhoods will no longer be given squalid housing, they'll have to buy it. And, under the Republicans, certain large corporations and business interests no doubt will be allowed to run wild, as opposed to the way the Clinton administration cracked down on Tyson's Chicken and cattle futures trading.
But that's about it in the way of Republican innovations. We don't have that many ideas. Democrats have lots of them. Every time a politician gets an idea it costs you money, and sometimes, in the case of wars, it costs you your skin.
Republicans are cheaper. We leave you alone. And when Republicans pull some sleazy thing like Whitewater, at least it works. You didn't see Michael Milken going to jail for not selling junk bonds.
Plus, you know where you stand with Republicans. Everybody realizes we're SOBs. Not like the Democrats, always claiming to be the spiritual scions of Mahatma Gandhi. You don't want a politician trying to drown you while the whole world thinks he's giving you a bath.
And one more extremely important thing about Republicans. We're against gun control. You can shoot us.