Little, if any, of this is real.
Instead, let's tap into the abiding paranoia that motivates Americans. It is a dangerous world. We have enemies, foreign and — especially — domestic.
What if someone wanted to destroy America. Really bring it to its knees. Impoverish its citizens, shred its Constitution, ruin its most important institutions, force it to retreat from the world and leave it with a future where a United States of America became impossible to sustain.
How would one go about it?
1. Devastate the middle class.
2. Shatter the bonds of community with sprawl, bubbles, car-centric development and the 10,000-mile supply chain available at Wal-Mart or online. Substitute gated properties and apartheid for real neighborhoods where different classes and races lived near each other.
3. Raze or compromise the "associational groups" that act to check and balance the power of elites. Better a megachurch than a union.
4. Corrupt those elites: Politicians, bankers, lawyers, chief executives, academics and anyone else who was formerly in a position to foil your plan. Those that can't be corrupted and bought off, destroy.
5. Gain control of the courts so they no longer interpret the law but make it for the benefit of you and this agenda.
6. Get control of the media and consolidate it into a very few voices, usually echoing each other, easily controlled and distracted. Make sure stories are dumbed-down, trivialized and celebrity focused. Do cut back on coverage of the world.
7. Make the citizenry ignorant.
8. Divide and rule. Set people against each other. Create subsets of citizens that can be grouped as Enemies of the People upon which blame for everything bad happening can be assigned.
9. Eliminate a common culture so elevating norms, such as education and civil discourse, are dismissed as elitist and exclusionary. A "civilization" and its demands sounds so snobby, so non "casual." Better for everyone to walk around dressed like adolescents and talking like characters out of Pulp Fiction.
10. Whittle away the rights enshrined in the Constitution — but not the Second Amendment. You can accomplish this because, in addition to "divide and rule," you...
11. Create and stoke a culture of perpetual fear. Here, the crises you create as a result of all these other acts (inequality, radical Islam, financial panics, mass shootings) are your ally. Tell the proles the problem is "the gays" or That (Black) Man in the White House.
12. Radicalize politics from the school board to the United States Congress, a situation inimical to liberal democracy.
13. Kill the commons, the things we do together as a people, from sustaining public libraries and the social compact to building infrastructure and continuing a manned space program. Villify the public schools. Make government the problem, not the solution. Nos. 6 and 7 will ensure the people have no memory that such a state of affairs ever existed.
14. Build the state around an armed empire, with a costly and criminalized Military Industrial Complex. Get involved in ageless quarrels that have nothing to do with the national interest. Pick shady or reckless allies. Go out and find endless wars, then tell the people "We're broke! We must cut 'entitlements'."
15. Create new gods that purport to explain everything and must be obeyed. "Free-market economics" is a good one. "Free trade" another. This economics demands that return on investment by the wealthy be worshipped. It allows for no calculation of externalities or social return.
16. Establish a theocracy easily blended with business oligarchies (the Prosperity Gospel) and conformist intolerance (the New Calvinist megachurches) but never questioning your quiet coup.
17. Pervert capitalism by removing essential elements to its health such as competition, antitrust, regulation, unions and banking-as-a-dull business. Sexualize everything in service of profits while using a highly sexualized society as a foil in the culture wars.
18. Give multinational corporations the powers and privileges of nation-states.
19. Keep the labor market sick. People afraid of losing their jobs are afraid and irrational. Same with those who are worse off today than three decades ago. This makes them malleable, irrational and easy to rule.
20. Control the language. "Conservative" is good, even though, thanks to No. 7, what is happening is not remotely conservative. "Liberal" is bad, even though the duhs and ignos don't know what liberalism is, aside from something gay and bad. Call our children "kids."
21. Don't fix what needs fixing, from pulling back on the costs of empire and addressing the needs of an underclass that leaves us with the largest prison population on the planet to reducing greenhouse gases. No. 6 has your back.
22. Encourage too much immigration too fast. You profit from lowering wages while gaining plenty of "the other" to scare native-born citizens and advance your political gains (e.g. S.B. 1070 and the election of Jan Brewer).
23. Distract endlessly, from the new conventional wisdom about America as a new oil superpower (nevermind climate change, even if it were true) to an abundance of inexpensive gadgets, games and reality television to ensure that the people remain No. 7.
24. Turn a nation and a civilization into a Ponzi scheme. Privatize profits. Socialize losses. Sell, sell, sell. Buy, buy, buy. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. Tax cuts. We're broke!
25. End up in a hot war with China, that America might well lose.
The most imaginative writers of thrillers and spy yarns would reject this plan as too fanciful to be believed by readers. It was beyond the abilities of the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
And yet this is America, 2014. We have allowed it to be done. In some cases, we have done it ourselves thanks to thousands of votes — not merely elections, but decisions where to buy and live, whether to support mass transit and trains or keep a 1970 transportation system, who to fear and hate.
Every canceled newspaper subscription, underfunded public school, dumbed-down discussion, purchase at Wal-Mart... Every library card that wasn't obtained for a young person. Every course in history, civics, literature and fine arts that was eliminated to pay for tax cuts, computers in classrooms and coaches' salaries. Each a vote on the road to tyranny and disaster.