Radicalizing the AAA
Working on a concept for some fiction: A man leads a splinter group of members from a well-regarded national organization, I'm
thinking the Automobile Association of America, in a takeover of the organization. Upon taking control, this guy begins to court the automakers in an attempt to get them to fund the AAA. Meanwhile, he begins to convince American automobile owners that environmentalists are going to take away their cars.
Simultaneously, backed by the automakers' money, AAA engages in a lobbying campaign to sway lawmakers towards deregulating the auto industry. First, doing away with any laws that require safety technology in cars-- no air bags, seat belts, crumple zones, bumpers, self-sealing gas tanks, any safety equipment-- gone.
Slowly but surely, AAA manages to convince entire generations that the government wants to take away their cars. This fear is capitalized upon as AAA increases membership dues and relentlessly presses members for more and more money to fight government's interference with their unfettered right to own any kind of motorized vehicle they want.
"Prohibiting the use of John Deere X9 1100 combines on highways is a slippery slope. First they take the X9 off the roads, and before you know it, they'll take away the Honda Fit."
Over the course of 30-40 years, Americans become convinced that the government has been overstepping their bounds by requiring things like gas efficiency and speed limits. The news programs are flooded every night with stories of children dying when a combine slams into a school bus or a family going grocery shopping is mowed down with a Claas Lexion 690 (which the AAA will quickly point out is NOT a Deere X9 and therefore not the same thing).
Despite the thousands of people dying each year by combines on the road, people will blindly support everything AAA tells them because it is an individual's right to drive whatever they wish, with no rules. AAA chooses to redesign their logo so it is nearly identical to the Air Force emblem, in a thinly-veiled attempt to align their "American representation of all law-abiding vehicle owners" with the defense of this country's skies, space and cyberspace. Millions of Americans send in money to get a sticker with the AAA logo on it, just so they can show the world that nothing is more important than their right to own a combine. Not the lives of innocent people. Not children cowering terrified under the seats of their school bus. Nothing. Law enforcement begs legislators to not roll back any more motor vehicle laws, but despite their pleas, conservative law makers allow AAA to write the bills that eliminate speed limits, DUIs and other common sense regulations. AAA celebrates the laws as victories for all patriotic Americans.
Meanwhile, now flush with money from four decades of taking money from both membership dues and undisclosed fortunes in support from the auto makers, the President of AAA takes his wife on a trip to Le Mans to compete in the 24 endurance race. After one lap, it becomes plainly obvious that despite his continuously proclaimed love of automobiles, the President of the auto club has absolutely no clue what the hell he is doing behind the wheel. He can't drive competitively, in fact, he can't even drive a stick on a 2012 Ford Focus sedan, much less on a John Deere X9 1100 - Sport Edition (it's what you would drive if you could drive a combine for the 24 hours of Le Mans.
You know what? Nevermind. It's been done before.