It's their education, stupid!
The 1992 Bill Clinton presidential campaign used the rallying cry, “It’s the economy, stupid” as an internal motivator to help the team focus on the most important feature of the American landscape at the time and as its best chance to win the election.
It was. It worked.
But it also embodied a more fundamental failure that forms the foundation of our current circumstances and informs the solution.
It’s our education. It’s stupid. It fails us all at almost every level and the evidence is as overwhelming as it is invisible. When everything - any everyone - has been dumbed down to the lowest point, what will remain to elevate it?
These are facts:
Forty percent of U.S. adults ascribe to a strictly creationist view of human origins, believing that God created them in their present form within roughly the past 10,000 years.
74,223,251 citizens, schooled enough to manage to register to vote, opted for Donald Trump, a man not only demonstrably stupid, but who wore that ignorance like a cloak of super power, which he used - and continues to use - to fool a lot of the people a lot of the time.
Facts don’t matter to a population that embraces only what warms it, rather than what warns it. Misinformation is not information. It’s bullshit.
So now, in this winter of our discontent, we may take some of the time allotted by our social distance to look for ways to come back together better than before. Remote learning is teaching parents about the inadequacy of standardized public education for their children who need and want more personalized lessons.
It is also teaching them about the inadequacy of their own education and the extension of that inadequacy back to grandparents and beyond. This problem is not new, but it is newly exposed at a time of hyper awareness generated by earth-shaking changes in the entire cultural zeitgeist. It’s as if some great force grabbed the attention of the entire country and asked “WTF?”.
Listen to the lexicon of the American disdain for knowledge.
“Don’t get smart with me!”
“What are you, some kind of smart aleck?”
“Smarty pants!”. “Egghead!”. “Brainiac!”. “Wise guy!”
Even the word “intellectual” has been charged with negativity. And in a most ironic twist of evolution, we are now told to embrace “artificial” intelligence!
You can’t make this stuff up.
In every aspect of every action by every one, the most valuable insight comes from asking who benefits. In some cases it’s as simple as “follow the money”, but it can be - and is - mostly so much more subtle.
What is the upside of ignorance? Not stupidity, which is deliberate ignorance, but simple ignorance which is simply not knowing. William Gray’s most misconstrued phrase - often misattributed to William Shakespeare - is only a fragment of the complete thought: “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise”.
More accurately, where ignorance is used in pursuit of bliss, wisdom becomes an obstacle, an impediment, a barrier. The wise can be stampeded and overrun as they try to bring the ignorant toward knowledge.
In between the wise and the ignorant are the manipulators, who pit the two against each other for their own gain. Money. Power. Prestige. Money.
These people, along with support staff and sycophants, now form the vast majority of those in most elected government positions. They are supposed, we believed, to be well-informed and well-educated enough to understand the “big picture” of American ideals and ambitions to collaborate on processes and projects that will improve the cultural underpinnings for the great majority of the entire population.
They don’t. It’s not working. For us. But it is working for them of course, as they acquire what they aspire to: money, power, prestige, money.
You could spend all of a long weekend reading all the stupid things that Donald Trump said, or Ted Cruz, or now, Nicki Haley who has already launched her campaign for the Presidency and said yesterday:
"George Washington turned an army of ragtag troops into an unstoppable force that defeated the British & secured America's independence," Haley tweeted on Monday in celebration of Presidents Day.
"As President, he oversaw the creation of our Constitution & showed the world what it looks like to govern by the people and for the people," the former South Carolina governor said.
All of it untrue. All of it displaying her ignorance. She wants to be President. If we let her - if we even let her run - it all be our ignorance at fault, and bliss will not follow that failure.
This will get worse before we make it better, but we must begin.
Read this post.
Read this book.
Teach your children well.