It’s taken awhile for the reduction in education spending, which Reagan initiated at the federal level, to reveal its deleterious effects. Yet the United States’ level of educational achievement in science, math, and language skills now ranks below more than twenty other countries. We are, in act, not smarter than a fifth grader.
A downward spiral
We used to be the envy of the world, and our universities still draw thousands of students from abroad. Those attendees, however, are often here because they didn’t make the cut “over there” where competition is often so fierce that applicants suffer from multiple psychological maladies — before, during, and after the entrance exams.
Republicans have tried on multiple occasions to eliminate (or further emasculate and eviscerate) the Department of Education. The latest Cabinet secretary may have achieved a new high in lowness. Fortunately, the ineptitude of Betsy DeVos is on its way out. What is unfortunate is that she’s given cover to countless members of the idiocracy who are further encouraged in their ignorance by Fox News, Sinclair Broadcasting, and the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his misleading legion of radio and online companions.
Without the rigors of high quality education, American students have lost the analytical skills that help them determine fact from fiction or, at the very least, a healthy skepticism about claims that “just don’t seem right.” Any current conspiracy theory would be quickly dismissed in the 1960s, an era when Americans watched “The G. E. College Bowl” and knew the answers.
The profit of propaganda
Today, to our national detriment, the most brazenly outrageous claims are given credence by people who aren’t smart enough to know they’re stupid. Senator Ron Johnson is a standout in this cretinous crowd. Or by broadcast “personalities” who, as long as they can profit from the spread of disinformation, seem determined to do so. Confront them, and they’ll claim to be expressing opinions, not fact, and providing entertainment, not news.
Our allies look at us in horror as political partisans try to turn a loss into a victory, judicial decisions into temporary obstacles, and reality into a distortion field of absolute nonsense. It is in this mindset of myopic arrogance that the State of Texas has sued four other states in the U. S. Supreme Court, claiming that the election results in those states were obtained through unconstitutional means.
If the Dallas Cowboys lose the next Super Bowl they play in, will Texas claim they really won and sue the winning team? Or will they go further to assert that the victor’s earlier triumphs were illegally obtained and, therefore, the winner wasn’t qualified to play against the Cowboys?
That’s the approach the Lonestar State is taking. It’s the approach that Republicans have backed. And it’s the surest sign that, from one end of the political spectrum at least, we’re not only not the bright shining light on the hill any more (and Reagan helped reduce it to the wattage of a night light), we’re a nation of grifters.