You’d be forgiven for believing the stupidity of this political age must have already peaked. Earlier this year, you’ll recall Trump tweeted a Game of Thrones style poster of himself to announce his intention to impose sanctions against Iran. In Australia, there was One Nation’s comically heavy-handed attempt to solicit ten million dollars from the NRA so as to “grab the government by the balls”, the footage of which felt more like a dark Ali-G video than an insight into Australian politics. This, you’ll recall, was only two months before a Federal election in which support for the racist One Nation party actually increased.
Turns out there’s no limit to the level politicians will stoop in the age of Trumpism. Reports emerged yesterday that the US energy department has rebranded natural gas as ‘molecules of freedom’ in its latest news release.
“With the US in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world” – US Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steve Winberg
That’s right, natural gas is now somehow symbolic of US freedom, right down to the molecular level. The Trump administration’s latest attempt to rebrand the inanimate substance coincides with findings reported by the Oil Change International suggesting that natural gas is not “clean, cheap, or necessary” in the light of urgent climate issues. I say ‘latest’ attempt because earlier this month, Energy Secretary Rick Perry compared America’s exports of natural gas to the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany. Yes, you read that sentence right.
“Seventy-five years after liberating Europe from Nazi Germany occupation, the United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent. And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.” – US Energy Secretary Rick Perry
Framing fossils fuels as ‘molecules of freedom’, physical manifestations of US freedom – it’s like a dumbed-down version of a George Orwell novel.
But will it work? Based on the way the polls have been looking, dubbing fossil fuels as ‘molecules of freedom’ probably won’t hurt the Trump administration. Although Trump is the only president in modern history never to achieve a 50% approval rating, his approval ratings are at an all-time-high according to Gallup, with his support increasing among Democrats and Independents. Just as economic doomsday-mongering unexpectedly secured the Liberals another term here in Australia, the growth of America’s economy appears to be driving support for Trump. So long as people’s economic interests are accounted for, it seems there is no spin too stupid, no leader too self-interested, no party too abhorrent.
It’s hard to stay engaged when the political discourse is this transparently manipulative – when politicians themselves do not seem to be taking their own jobs seriously. But we have to stay engaged. When the United Nations is warning us that one million animals are at risk of extinction, and rising temperatures are threatening the livelihoods of Australian farmers, the consequences of climate change denial are too alarming to laugh off. The Trump administration’s patriotic ‘rebranding’ of fossil fuels is unacceptable. As concerned global citizens, we need to band together and make it clear: the stupidity stops now.