Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Barbecue Republic

In yesterday's post, I referred to contemporary America as a "Barbecue Republic" and a "militaristic, theocratic oligarchy." Since it's not my intention to toss out terms like this loosely, it may be worth spending a column or so discussing why I chose to use these terms.

"Barbecue Republic" is obviously derivative of "Banana Republic." I don't think "Banana Republic" accurately describes America because in a Banana Republic, the oppression of dissent is fairly obvious--armed troops marching in the streets, enemies of the state lined up against the wall and shot, propaganda that no one would mistake for entertainment or educational information.

A "Barbecue Republic" as I define the term, is one in which a civil veneer of equality and normalcy is maintained. It evokes a vision of Americans of all social and economic strata enjoying summer fun out on the back porch or the back forty, mutually sharing the benefits of living in a "free" country.

A Barbecue Republic denies or camouflages underlying realities. Enemies of the state aren't tied to a post and shot. They're smeared, their careers are ruined, their personalities are destroyed.

Giant posters of the Barbecue Republic's fearless leader don't hang in public squares, and nationalistic harangues don't blare from loudspeakers. Barbecue propaganda slips into the regular news and entertainment media, dressed up as...well, news and entertainment.

In a Banana Republic, citizens fear their own government. In a Barbecue Republic, citizens fear external enemies, and the government ensures that the citizens always have plenty of enemies to fear--axes of them, in fact. When one enemy bites the dust, two or three more are already on deck to take its place.

Banana Republics have one-party systems. Barbecue Republics have two or more parties, but it's a) difficult to tell the difference between them or b) one party has control of so much of the government that the other party doesn't constitute a true opposition.

In Banana Republics, the head of state has no constitutional checks and balances on his powers. Barbecue Republics have constitutional checks and balances, but the head of state ignores them and gets away with it.

Banana Republic governments are corrupt, but the corruption is legal. In a Barbecue Republic, committees tasked to investigate corruption find it at the lowest possible levels.

I could go on, but I reckon you get the idea. Please feel free to post a comment and add Barbecue-isms of your own.

Tomorrow, I'll delve into the "militaristic, theocratic oligarchy" thing.




  1. Barbeque Republicisms:

    Support the Troops yellow ribbon-stickers on cars.

    Viva Bush! poster on my of-military-age male co-worker's office wall.

  2. You're on to something, that's for certain. I wish the term 'barbecue republic' conveyed more vividly the hypocrisy of the system.

    "Militaristic, theocratic oligarchy" to me is self-evident and unassailable ;o)

  3. "Ya'll just have some of this here barbecue and don't worry your pretty little head about it."

    Cap, did you ever see the movie about Zapata with Wallace Beery. Interesting casting.

  4. Jeff in Florida1:57 PM

    The more I read the more amazed I am that we live in a society that seems to have been forced to wear blinders, earmuffs, and mittens so we can't see, hear, or feel what Bush/cheney/Rove are doing to all of us. The Echo of this presidency will reverberate through the Halls of HIstory for many years to come. A time that will show so many Americans were completely misled by the body that is supposed to be there to protect them.

  5. Agree, Jeff. Your key phrase, IMO--"the more I read."

    Keep reading... And keep coming back and writing your opinions (including and especially if they don't agree with mine).

    Thanks for stopping by and posting.

    Jeff in Virginia

  6. Barbecue Republicism - the updated version of the American Dream - everybody with their own little piece of the pie. Disney. The Stock Market. Politics. Fundamental Christianity.'Amway' and Big Business. All designed to convince the little guy that he's 'important'- and condition him to 'serve'.

    Problem is the 'dream' is unsustainable. And the 'real' America (if there ever was one - for this has gone on for a long time) is buried in a snow job.

  7. Thanks for stopping in and commenting on this, Pop. I'd forgotten that I wrote it almost three years ago.


  8. Last night's special on the Abramoff scandal is a perfect example of the slimebuckets festooned in red white and blue but looking out for number one.

    There may have been rogues like Gingrich, DeLay and Rove sliding around the corridors of power before - but how come nobody gets any better at spotting them before they wreak their havoc?

    Maybe it's because they make noises 'real' Americans like to hear.

    Betcha they've done some great barbecues, and dorm parties too.

  9. Pop,

    I've given a lot of thought to the question of why we don't learn as a society that these power creeps are up to no good. I have to conclude for now that the power creeps appeal to the worst in our natures and that's enough to sweep them into power and allow them to do a lot of damage before the better public angels get sick of them and toss them out.


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