Conventional wisdom says that a presidential candidate’s campaign book ought to strike a balance between erudition and populism, demonstrate deepness of thought as well as make an appeal to the working man. Vermin Supreme is unconventional, so his political manifesto, iPony: Blueprint for a New America, is none of these things. Or all of these things. It is really hard to say.
At one level we have here an dystopian, post-apocalyptic thriller, a mashup of Planet of the Apes, Omega Man (one of the characters is named “Chuck Heston”), the Chronicles of Narnia, 1984, King Kong, and every schlocky B-film from the 1950s that featured a brain in a jar.
At another level this book provides barbed commentary on our own political system. Unintended consequences abound. An entrenched bureaucracy is everywhere. Regulations are overbearing and intrusive. Political leadership inept. And in a further break from tradition, the author places himself as the inept leader in his own political manifesto:
Dictator Forever Vermin Supreme was completely and utterly insane…How these deranged hobo made it all the way into the White House was still not completely understood.
Imagine Bastiat meets Swift meets the Harvard Lampoon meets Netflix, and you get the idea.
Accompanying the text are full-page drawings from a a dozen or so artists.
I can’t say I entirely “get” Vermin Supreme and his style of political protest, but I think I understand him more than I did before. Yes, he is absurd. But perhaps that is the very point. Is it not also absurd that the government simultaneously spends taxpayer money to subsidize tobacco farmers as well as to persuade people not to smoke? That we have waged a 70 year “war on poverty” that has left the poverty rate right where it started? That we spend $50 billion/year on foreign aid but have 15 million children here living in poverty? That I’m writing this from a government-enforced quarantine here in the “Live Free or Die” state? That Donald Trump is president? Given what we have as reality, perhaps Vermin Supreme is the sanest among us? Probably not…