In 2005, using only Comic Sans and a questionable sense of reality, Katharine DeBrecht wrote a book about her dodgy conservative values for kids. She called it Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed! and it retailed for $15.95.
The back cover’s first blurb came from Melanie Morgan, a radio host who, let me look her up… said a New York Times reporter deserved the gas chamber, accused Barack Obama of being a Muslim, threatened to kill Nancy Pelosi, and said George Soros worked with the Nazis “in order to further his own career.” And speaking of working with Nazis to further careers, Katharine Debrecht has used every shameless, MAGA culture war trigger word she could think of to promote herself, and she has 13 followers on Twitter and two on Facebook.
So look, if you’re new to this, being “conservative” means you live in a world too complicated for you, so you simply refuse to believe in all the confusing parts, replacing them in your imagination with crazy shit you hate, while also demanding everyone take you serio– you know what? You get it. I don’t need to spend all this time explaining a thing you already know. Besides, I can sum up Conservatism in one word: windmill safety. *windmill safety. Sorry, autocorrect kept changing my punchline from “whitesupremacy.”
Help! Mom! There are Liberals Under My Bed! is about Tommy and Lou, two small town, Chrstian, hardworking, great American boys. If this was a movie, book, TV show, video game, or any other media produced in the last 150 years, you would have no doubt in your mind they and their town hid a dark secret. Katharine says Tommy and Lou are good little boys whose only flaw is sometimes they pray a little too fast. You know who talks like that? A woman who isn’t mentioning a third son getting the sin whipped out of him at gay camp, or the many village daughters given to The Man In The Well. If you’re looking for the perfect tone for the opening of a story about a cute small town that eats outsiders, ask any conservative “baseball mom” to describe her idea of Perfectville, USA.
Tommy and Lou want a swingset for their yard, and their loving mother tells them to go fucking buy one. She does this while standing right next to their living room portrait of Ronald Reagan, and I know decoding symbolism in right wing cartoons is like putting diarrhea back into a cat, but telling your children, “I’m keeping all the money and you can go fuck yourself,” is actually a really elegant way to explain Reaganomics to kids.
Luckily, the good little boys are resourceful and clever. They saw their mother point to a lemon tree, tell them to make lemonade, and it gave them an idea: offering her to The Man in the Well to bargain for their lost sisters. Then they had a second, better idea: asking God to pleasemakeSpanishillegal, inJesusChrist’snameAmen. Then, after seven more outrageous joke ones, it hit them: lemonade!
“We’ll make lemonade and sell it!” Tommy spelled out. It wasn’t a complex idea, but the boys had it for hours. They had it all day, and nearly had it past their bedtime. If they weren’t such good little boys, they might be awake still, just having the shit out of the idea to make lemonade and sell it. Anyway, after passing out with all that capitalism adrenaline in their veins, Tommy and Lou each dream the same 34 page (I had to count because there aren’t page numbers) political cartoon.
The boys find themselves in Liberaland, an assault of mixed messages and nonsensical parody. You can tell the artist has picked a side in a culture war, but it’s not clear why or what the win conditions could be. I’m sure Katharine DeBrecht thinks she became the way she is for logical reasons, and I’m sure she has strongly wrong opinions about any wedge issue that turns up on her Facebook feed, but her mind is an empty toilet where grifters dump their propaganda.
When left with the wide open topic of “stuff liberal people do that sucks,” she couldn’t come up with a single coherent criticism. Is it decadent wealth? Discount prices? Working together? Eating Dean’s cream? This picture requires six years of right wing radicalization to even know what she’s referencing and four more to learn why you hate them. And it’s meant to indoctrinate kids? Their skulls aren’t soft enough for this Boomer shit. Here, young boy, enjoy this pun about a talking point used to explain to grandparents how the ACLU will take away churches. If I was six I would assume this was a coffee table book of bad kidnapper tattoos.
Let’s skip ahead a little bit. Their lemonade stand is a success!
The dumb fucking idiot kids can’t read or write, but they’re amazing lemonade chefs and even better businessmen. The town loves their lemonade stand. “Not too sweet!” they scream as they fill the street, blindly wandering into traffic in every direction. I’m not sure how the kids keep their overhead so low when they’re giving away $1.36 worth of glassware with every 25￠ purchase, and I get these are a lot of notes, but I think it’s interesting the author of this book doesn’t know how children, alphabets, lemonade, sidewalks, economics, or streets work. And here this dingbat is, writing a blueprint for navigating all of life.
At this point you might be wondering how these children are the good guys. They’ve turned a public street into a non-stop lemonade riot and they did it for money. Sure, that’s fine. Noble even, but Tommy and Lou also champion the most conservative of all values. No, not drinking your liberal tears. No, not fucking your feelings. No, not measuring skulls with calip– look, if you’re not going to take this seriously, stop guessing. I’m talking about social welfare, of course. In order to make these free market capitalist boys the heroes of this story, the deranged right wing author has them set aside $1.75 to buy shoes for local “kids with no shoes.”
It’s sort of sweet, but should they be doing this? Wouldn’t those shoeless children love their shoes more if they worked for them? I can’t remember which book I read that in.
Now that the boys are successful, a liberal tax lover leaps from behind a tree. “Hellllloo,” he says, touching himself with his meaty hands while he gazes at their money. These are the author’s words, not mine. One of the cool things about being me is I know “fat Democrat jerks off on little boys’ lemonade stand money” isn’t quite right for a children’s book.
The kids, who I mentioned earlier are total fucking idiots, have never heard of taxes. The mayor explains it’s money we give to liberals so they can take care of us, which is a perfectly right wing way to describe something in that it’s kind of not “wrong,” except when you think about it in any way. It’s basically a reworded version of, “I’m exhaustingly uneducated except for conservative talking points and I refuse to apply nuance to anything other than every man’s sexual misconduct charges.”
Ha ha ha the mayor levitates away with their money screaming, “Boo-yah!”
Is the villain supposed to be fun? What a strange and amazing decision from the mind of a truly impenetrable writer.
There’s something I should have mentioned by now. In this vivid and very long dream, the boys are full-time, around-the-clock lemonade men now. Their entire day is running the lemonade stand and their entire night is squeezing lemons. And while they are doing their late night lemon squeezing, they see the man who robbed them come on the TV to announce he is going to take their shoe charity money and spend it on, what’s this? D-dustpans!?
So we all get the criticism this is trying to make– liberals are crazy wrong! They don’t understand shoes like good boys! But what events took place that made Katharine think this? When you’re taking a stand against a thing no one would ever want to do and you have to imagine it inside a child’s dream for it to take place, maybe you don’t need to have this fight? Maybe your enemies don’t exist? This isn’t even my field of expertise, but I can think of a few ways unregulated charities run by children could go wrong. Until I saw this book, I would have assumed anyone could have.
So okay, the book made its point, right? Leave the free market alone and trust in the eventual generosity of the wealthy. Without opening a browser, I’m 98% sure it’s a bad idea, but it’s not like any kid ever read this. I’m just glad this lesson on taxes is over and an author this stupid and clumsy didn’t try to tackle any of the more delicate cultural divides in our country.
Ha ha ha, holy fuck.
Alright, so the kids wanted to thank Jesus Christ for the gift of, and I quote, “Mom and Dad let[ting] them stay up one hour later to squeeze lemons.” So they hang a picture of Him on their lemonade stand, which causes a second liberal to appear. This one is part snake and he tells them the Jesus offended a man in a limousine and now they have to hang a picture of a big toe instead, because conservative grievances are extremely real. To any kids reading, it’s like this: we all know snake men won’t really come in and replace your God with feet, but how dare the liberals try to send snake men in to replace your God with feet! This is why your mommy and daddy are mad all the time, pal, and why you had to watch one of them die on a respirator over FaceTime.
You might have seen this one coming. Hillary Clinton shows up next. She yells at the kids for not following health codes and tells them they have to use less sugar and include a side of broccoli with their lemonade. Again, this is a child’s dream in a book by a maniac, but what’s the ultimate stand being taken here? I don’t think you should trust anyone fighting so irrationally for their right to put whatever they want in your drink. Katharine desperately struggled to come up with a circumstance where “inalienable freedom of drink ingredients” was a smart idea and I would argue she did not find one.
In a series of analogies too graceless to be of any use, the insane politicians have destroyed the lemonade stand. They have turned it into a permanent press conference, but also an overpriced health food stand, but also a socialist commune, but also now their property. There is no longer any messaging and the best case scenario here is that a young reader learns all liberals are mentally ill because they’re crazy. What a waste of $15.95 when you could do the same thing by choking your child to sleep every night from behind a Jimmy Carter mask.
This is a kid’s book, and we’re now twelve pages into an extended satirical argument against business regulations. It’s like Katharine got fired for sneezing into a salad bar and then arrested for starting a fake charity and a voice in her head spent her entire prison sentence explaining how it’s actually the universe that’s wrong and she needs to tell the kids.
Oh my god, it’s still going. Broccoli and dustpans litter the liberal dystopia and I think one of the kids is dead? I feel like whatever political debate was going on was beaten to death half a book ago. I get not everyone is going to agree on how much lawlessness it takes to make the best lemonade, but anyone taking a side in the battle at this point is nuts. Have your wasteland of unsweetened broccoli lemonade. Or your kids running a fake shoe charity scheme endorsed by Jesus. No one cares. Kids, if you think the author is right about those being the two sides of a thing, I have bad news about your piece of shit brain and how hard your life is going to be for you.
Tommy and Lou both wake up from their identical dream, and sure enough, after 34 pages, they never found an opportunity to get the remaining money in their SHOƎ FUND to those shoeless children. I’m not saying it was a scam the whole time, I’m just saying in a wild fantasy designed specifically to showcase the superiority of conservative ideals, our heroes were defeated by enemies who don’t and will never exist and broke a sacred promise they made to destitute children for 87￠. Or the author forgot, but that’s silly. Everyone’s right to give money to charity seemed so central to her anti-liberal beliefs.
Lou’s takeaway from the dream was, “Fuck everything if liberals exist, man.” And the lesson Tommy learned was, “No, brother. We must grind our bones on the mill of capitalism.” And maybe they were both a little bit right because the book ended with them getting right back to work, “like the good little conservatives they were.”
Has the phrase “like the good little conservatives they were,” ever followed something positive? It sounds like something you’d only say after, “They explained to black athletes how they were wrong. . .” or “They sure had a lot to say about transgender people using the bathroom. . .“
I just feel like any sane author would have proofread this and said, “Oh no, I forgot to have a point or a plot or a lesson. Oh no, I think my entire ideology is morally bankrupt. Honey! Honey, I reread my book and saw the reflection of my beliefs and I… I might be a soulless moron! What? What do you mean, you know!?”
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