Field of Greens
The dreaded broccoli uprising and other freaky GOP nightmares.
When the socialist revolution comes, the first shot will not come from filthy peasants bearing flaming torches or angry, poorly dressed workers demanding higher wages. No, listening to the anti-government chatter these days, it's clear that the new socialist revolution will be spearheaded by a lone asparagus.
The vegetables are coming, my friends. Green, gassy, fibrous vegetables. They aren't buttered. Or salted. And this time, they mean business.
Last week, flush with his victory in a lawsuit challenging the president's health care initiative, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli announced gravely that "if we cross this line with health care now—this unconstitutional line—where the government can force us to buy a private product and say it's for our own good, then we'll have given the government the power to force us to buy other products: cars, gym memberships, asparagus. The list goes on." Broccoli? Belgian endive? The list indeed goes on.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Cuccinelli's rhetorical choice perfectly echoed a question federal Judge Henry Hudson posed to the Obama administration during the October argument of the case Cuccinelli just won, as Hudson wondered aloud at the time whether the government could require people "to buy a car, to join a gym, to eat asparagus."
Using the same logic, columnist George Will conjured the dread specter of the state brandishing broccoli when he wrote at the start of this month that if congressional power to regulate interstate commerce "is infinitely elastic, Congress can do anything—eat your broccoli, or else—and America no longer has a limited government." Don't think there's anything that sinister about broccoli, friends? Think again. That broccoli is just a front for the New World Order.
Think about it. If the asparagus and broccoli are really coming to knock down our doors and kidnap our children, can helicopters loaded with cauliflower really be that far behind? And what of the eggplant in night-vision goggles? If we're soon to be governed by a totalitarian taxonomy of toxic greens, who—one wonders—will sound the warning against the tyrannical field peas?
Some government critics are less specific than Cuccinelli in their vegetable-takeover threats. For them, all leafy greens are created equal, and each carries a broad, if unspecified, danger. For such critics, green vegetables are more anti-liberty than antioxidant. So here is Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., boldly speaking out against the dread generic-fruit-and-vegetable at a town hall meeting last October: "The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta said people in America are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. They want to give all the power to the federal government to force you to eat more fruits and vegetables. This is what the federal, CDC, they gonna be calling you to make sure you eat fruits and vegetables, every day. This is socialism of the highest order!"
If, like me, you are surprised to learn that your mother, your grandmother, and that kindly little cucumber from Veggie Tales were all committed socialists of the highest order, that's just because you haven't yet clued in to their nefarious plan.
When, at her July confirmation hearings, Elena Kagan failed to dispel the Hudson/Broun/Cuccinelli claim that the socialist revolution will come with balsamic on the side, the deal was sealed. When pinned down by a glassy-eyed Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., on the not-so-hypothetical question of whether Congress could actually pass a law forcing Americans to eat "three fruits and three vegetables every day," Kagan replied that it just sounded like a "dumb law." This was seen by some conservatives as the greatest gotcha moment in Commerce Clause history. Clearly, the despotic liberal project of force-feeding Americans vegetables has moved past the planning stages and into reality. They're coming to get your children, America, and they're coming by way of the salad bar.
If ever a revolution were being fomented from the ground up, this is it.
Dahlia Lithwick writes about the courts and the law for Slate.
Photograph of asparagus by Ryan McVay/Digital Vision.