In wars of the past, masses of soldiers were thrown at each other in battle with no consideration of their humanity. Kings and emperors treated men like some cheap commodity: "Shovel on more coal!" Whence the term "cannon fodder" for those people who were held in such low esteem that they could be shovelled into battle like coal feeding a steam engine or hay feeding cattle.
The modern American equivalent of cannon fodder is the army of working men and women shovelled with contempt into low-wage occupations that stifle thought and personal growth. These days it is the wealthy class, rather than kings and generals, that handle the shovels. This is the reason science and history are despised by the ruling class--they require the modern cannon fodder to fuel their wealth, not inquisitive persons who question things or are skeptical of what their rulers tell them. Politicians promote this state of affairs by convincing the masses to vote for them in the belief that the policies called for by the politicians will bring them, too, into the aristocracy of wealth. The masses can be mollified by dreams of a better life.
Promise them anything--"I promise not to cut Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security! I promise to make the economy grow at an unprecedented rate! I promise a new system of health care insurance that will cover everybody, more cheaply, and will be fantastic!"
But when you examine what promises are being kept, they are not these. Autocrats don't make promises to cannon fodder. Those who are pleased with the autocrat's actions are the exceedingly wealthy and the executives of corporations with lots of money to contribute, those who have a realistic chance of influencing the Dear Leader.
Fodder is only useful as long as the oxen are plowing the fields.