NOTE TO READERS: This is Part 1 of a two-part series, "The Indispensable Movement Can Revolutionize Political Discourse." Part 1 introduces and explains Swampzilla, our movement's crucial meme vilifying our slimy and dangerous "Republocrat" duopoly. Part 2, titled "Indispensable Chic: The Hip Lingo of Grassroots Revolution," provides a sampler of the cool, catchy verbal weapons we've forged to discredit our "Republocrat" enemies and foster solidarity among the politically "woke."
Introduction: Meet Swampzilla
Don't think of an elephant. Don't even think of a donkey. When voters enter the polls in 2018 and 2020, they need to be thinking of Swampzilla.
But what the hell is Swampzilla? As the name strongly hints, he's certainly not Barney the friendly dinosaur. With donkey and elephant heads--and none-too-friendly ones at that--firmly affixed to Godzilla's hulking reptilian body, he's a frightful monster to behold. And just try to drain his beloved swamp--the money-filled political morass he tyrannizes over--and you'll draw down upon yourself the full horror of his resistance and ferocity. "You'll drain this swamp," he fulminates, "over my dead body."
But oddly, Swampzilla leads a double life. Strange to fathom, Swampzilla is also someone's fiercely loyal pet-- one who would never think of biting the hand that feeds him. And for his two imposing masters--the Indispensable Movement calls them "Wall Street" and "War Street"--Swampzilla indeed might as well be Barney. You all know how the song goes: "I love you. You love me. Feed me more po-lit-i-cal mon-ey." With a vested interested in keeping Swampzilla robust, loyal--and forbiddingly unapproachable for average citizens (as I find "my" U.S. Senator, Chuck Schumer)--Wall Street and War Street are always glad to oblige. As Swampzilla, miraculously prostrate and supine at once, exposes his belly to be rubbed.
The Swampzilla Meme as "Cathedral Window"
Vibrant mass movements thrive on catchy ideas and slogans. Often, the catchy ideas and slogan are concise, shorthand words or phrases to pinpoint and vilify political enemies. Like, say, Indispensable's coinage "War Street," minted to parallel "Wall Street" and identify the war interest, alongside the corporate/economic one, as the other major corrupting influence on our government. In other cases, the special movement lingo may serve to build solidarity--based on a shared sense of being savvy and "hip"--among movement members, perhaps highlighting some key movement strategy or tactic in the process. Such is the coinage "cathedral window" used here.
A "cathedral window," as the phrase is used here, is a somewhat elaborate meme or political cartoon, perhaps introduced in simple form but then elaborated upon after viewers have become well acquainted with the basic concept. The name originates from an expert-guided tour I once followed of the deservedly far-famed Chartres Cathedral. As our expert guide repeatedly stressed, the cathedral windows and statuary, apart from their aesthetic aims, served the practical purpose of teaching the basics of Catholic Christianity to a largely illiterate population. If sufficiently largely and detailed, a cathedral window, viewed again and again, could teach a rather elaborate religious narrative. In like fashion, an Indispensable "cathedral window" like the Swampzilla meme is designed to teach political truth to the politically illiterate--meaning not just those too busy, cynical, or distracted by economic anxiety to follow politics, but those rendered functionally illiterate politically by too much (perhaps even incessant) attention to nonstop propaganda of both Republican- and Democrat-leaning corporate media. Rush or Rachel, their political fix is rotting their citizen minds.
Like a Gothic cathedral window, an Indispensable "cathedral window" like Swampzilla is meant, as a viral meme, to be viewed again and again. But unlike a Gothic cathedral window, ours is not required to tell its whole elaborate story all at once or all in one place. Instead, we can introduce the basic Swampzilla meme (as done above) and then, once readers have grasped the basic concept, introduce more complicated memes (or cartoons) illustrating the corrupt relationship between our "Swampzilla" duopoly and its Wall Street and War Street masters.
In case anyone is wondering, Swampzilla is not the only "cathedral window" our Indispensable Movement has in the works. Another--probably even more elaborate--one is "duopoly football," based on Barack Obama's utterly damning admission that our two major parties have so much in common that they play out their supposedly life-or-death political "struggle" "between the forty-yard lines." I'll elaborate the "duopoly football" concept in much greater detail in my Part 2 article. I will, however, treat it briefly in my next section, in relation to the "beauty" of the Swampzilla meme.
Swampzilla: The Messaging Beauty of an Ugly Meme
Swampzilla, then, is a "cathedral window" meme, designed to teach (and above all, emphasize) pictorially certain essential--and even somewhat complicated--truths about U.S. politics. Conceived as a weapon of peaceful political revolution, Swampzilla is meant to teach liberating, revolutionary truths--the type completely suppressed by the narrow, profit-making agenda of consolidated corporate media.
First and foremost among those truths is the intolerable corruption of both our major political parties. The intolerable nature of that corruption is probably best viewed through the twin lenses of nuclear and climate Armageddon: the fact that both major parties, swayed almost exclusively by "Wall Street and War Street" donors, currently pursue policies that virtually guarantee the extinction of human civilization (not to mention countless animal species). That's precisely why my first essay announcing the Indispensable Movement referred to "party time on the Titanic." To end that utterly decadent, utterly suicidal party, the vast majority of us who were never invited--Occupy's "99%"--are "indispensable."
To emphasize that intolerable bipartisan corruption, the Swampzilla meme cleverly piggybacks on the highly popular "drain the swamp" rhetoric (and that's clearly all it was) cynically exploited by Donald Trump. But it turns that rhetoric against the leadership of both parties in a way neither Trump nor Clinton and her ilk could have imagined: the swamp lizard steeped to his neck in corrupting political ooze has both left (Democrat) and right (Republican) heads.
By that clever pictorial touch--two party-symbol heads on a single "monster lizard" body--the Swampzilla meme deftly dodges a charge Democrats, called out on their corruption, predictably level at critics: that we're claiming Republicans and Democrats are the same. Well, emphatically not. Rather, by attaching two different (donkey and elephant) heads to the same slimy reptilian body, we're simply making the same point Obama made with his football analogy about the two parties playing between the forty-yard lines. But unlike Obama, we're exposing to public scrutiny the damning nature of that common turf: corruption by oligarchs' money and the bipartisan policies dictated by that corruption. Namely, a devotion to endless war and a beefed-up domestic police state; a commitment (whatever Democrats' pro-climate rhetoric) to prolonging the production and use of climate-disastrous fossil fuels; and in general, endless foot-dragging on any popular policies (like single-payer health insurance) that menace the interests of corporate oligarch donors. The fact of Swampzilla's slimy, dangerous body being shared by the donkey and elephant heads forcefully symbolizes that common--and very swampy--turf.