Jef Rouner
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I Want to Live in a Republican Dystopia

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Illustration by Shelby Hohl


There is nothing on the planet that sounds more appealing than living in a 2024 conservative’s worst nightmare. If I could ride a poster of Ronald Reagan at lightspeed to shift into the alternate dimension the modern Republican Party conceives of as the worst case scenario, I would be stealing plutonium right this second.


Last week the head of Latinos for Trump, Marco Gutierrez, warned that if Donald Trump loses we will have taco trucks on every corner. I have never seen a nation unite so fast in my life. #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner is being called the hashtag of the century, and while that phrase does make me want to day drink, I can’t deny its sheer power.


I know that the idea here is that taco trucks somehow indicate a ruined neighborhood, but that’s how far into Wackyland these pod people have wandered. Even the most racist bigot on Planet America likes Mexican food made by the Mexicanniest of people because, no matter how badly their brains work, their taste buds are firing on all cylinders.


Are these people honestly saying that when Hillary Clinton becomes president we’re going to enter a new phase of entrepreneurship and multi-cultural gastric nirvana like it’s a bad thing? I went and watched the food truck episode of Modern Marvels after hearing Gutierrez speak and my mind was blown away by the civic possibilities. Food trucks can and do deliver hot meals to disaster areas (you know, like that time we messed up the response to Hurricane Katrina and Mexico sent its military to affected areas with mobile kitchens, but whatever). They could team up with local food banks to deliver non-perishable foodstuffs to poor areas and food deserts for tax breaks, and be optimized to take SNAP food benefits. Maybe start an apprenticeship program that could help people get government loans to start their own food truck business. The possibilities are myriad.


Or what’s this sudden clutching of pearls that Rush Limbaugh and other far-right ass-haberdashers are doing over the idea that the federal government is trying to convince lesbians to start farms. They’re not, by the way. The right was just apparently ignorant that gay people can actually exist in rural areas and grow things, but, again, what exactly is the downside? Am I supposed to be worried that Sumiko and Tammy are going to show up to the farmer’s market and sell me fresh corn on the cob? Because that sounds absolutely adorable. Heck, even, the dating site for farmers, has gay options. You dudes need to get out more.


The right is also concerned that our own Beyonce is a secret CIA operative using her music to build an army of angry young urban (that’s how you spell “black” when you don’t want to be called racist) terrorists because she took a bat to some cars in Lemonade. Leaving aside the fact that folks like Alex Jones and Matt Drudge only understand symbolism when it relates to conspiracies, not actual human emotions, if Beyonce wants to go all Mockingjay on this country I am all for it. I’ve seen how white guys handle uprisings. They just end up pooping on Native American artifacts until they see something shiny in the street and get swept up by the feds. I’d rather have an entire generation of Bey’s than one Cliven Bundy any day of the week and twice on Sunday. One is shouting, “don’t take men’s crap lying down,” and the other actually said the word “negro” unironically where people could hear him.


Nothing obsesses the alt-right like the idea that free speech might be impeded in any way. Any time someone loses a job, or gets kicked out of school, or otherwise suffers any consequence for racist or sexist or other bigoted remarks you can count on someone in the alt-right firing off some piece about how nothing is more important than the ability to say things freely.


And sorry, but for everyone who doesn’t have a straight flush of Western privilege (and even for some of us that do) we’d much rather live in a world where loud bigots understand their contributions to the public discourse are akin to a turd in the punch bowl. When someone like Milo Yiannopoulos gets booted from Twitter for organizing racial and gender-based harassment campaigns, I dance around my living room to the Ghostbusters theme. If social media outlets started locking people out of their accounts for 36 hours because they just had to call some strange woman a gendered slur in three consecutive tweets, I wouldn’t weep for free speech; I’d cheer because technology had rediscovered the concept of time out for jerk-children. We need those automated ticketers from Demolition Man, except instead of cuss words they cite you for “I’m not racist, but…” and instead of a fine they’d squirt you with water like a cat on the kitchen counter.


Or look at the hyperbolic response every time someone tries to diversify video games, film or comics. They ask, “what do you want next? A trans black Spider-man with autism!?” Well, yeah, that sounds kind of awesome, actually. Can we make that happen? That’s definitely a story I haven’t heard before, here in the world of Broody White Guy Goes Shoot Shoot Parts 1 - Infinity. See, not all of us don’t have anything going for us in our lives other than having our particular social demographic being constantly reassured of its supremacy. Fictional worlds that more closely resemble the actual world don’t scare the rest of us, bubba. I have never heard a retort to a race or gender swap version of some character that didn’t immediately sound cooler than the mild change they were actually making.


The last decade has seen the greatest surge forward of social progress since the Civil Rights era, and arguably the progress is greater considering the more diverse group of people it has benefited. Consequently, the backlash has been more diverse, as haters of different stripes find allies under our new orange demagogue. This bland gumbo of suck has spawned a wild dystopian vision where the world is full of people of color, empowered women, a myriad of faiths, a wide spectrum of sexual and gender identities, and where the disabled can be proud; where this version of America is celebrated, and where bigotry and white male heteronormative orthodoxy are viewed with contempt and suspicion. It’s a world where when you kick marginalized people when they’re down, someone kicks you back instead of looking the other way.


Their nightmare sounds like bloody utopia to me.