They’re Fixing the System So the Less Educated and Most Gullible Vote for Them
In the good old days the more wealth an American had the more likely he or she was to vote Republican. It made sense. The Grand Old Party was the one that coddled the rich, protecting them from regulations on their businesses and high taxes on their incomes. Today in the US, although richer citizens are still more likely to vote than poorer people, there is a new element in the mix–the stupidity factor–that is gaining weight in the struggle. That factor has to do with the educational level of voters. Some astute Republicans have discovered this relatively new development in election trends over the past 30 years, and it has occurred to them to look at the upside of the phenomenon for their party.
If voters with less education and higher stupidity quotients are more inclined to vote Republican, the secret of winning elections is to foment less education and more stupidity. This fact should vastly improve Republican results in elections at all levels, local, state and national. The brief Trump Era added another variable to the election equation, the dumbed-down factor. The Republican thinkers have discovered that just three straightforward measures will permit the GOP to win a mass of new votes in upcoming elections from a notably undereducated and highly racist sector of American citizenry.
The first step in this Dumb-Down Strategy has been underway for decades, so all the Republicans have to do is to continue to foment it. It’s the lowering of standards in American K-12 schools because, though the US has some of the world’s most distinguished institutions of higher education, their K-12 schools are lamentable by international standards, placing 26th in a ranking headed by China, America’s bitter pill.
According to Keri D. Ingraham, director and fellow of the American Center for Transforming Education:
Here’s the sad truth. Twenty-five countries outperform U.S. K-12 students. Those leading the way are China, Hong Kong, Finland, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, and Canada. China’s students not only place first overall, but they dominate each individual subject as well. U.S. students straggle in at 33rd in math, 23rd in science, and 17th in reading.
The majority of U.S. public school students do not achieve grade level proficiency. The Nation’s Report Card reveals that only 28.7 percent of 4th-graders, 26.4 percent of 8th-graders, and a mere 22.8 percent of 12th-graders reach basic proficiency levels averaged across seven subjects (civics, geography, mathematics, reading, science, U.S. history, and writing) on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests. In other words, over 71 percent of our students lack basic academic proficiencies at the end of their 13-year K-12 schooling.Discovery.org–Dumbing Down K-12 Education by Keri Ingraham
The second step in the plan to take electoral advantage of America’s dumbed-down electorate is to pitch the election discourse to the least educated Americans. As we might expect, these are the voters who respond best to populist, racist demagogic rhetoric. Donald J. Trump was, of course, sent from heaven to deliver those messages. Step three is to implement, state by state, a meticulous set of restrictive voting laws designed to limit severely access to the polls by groups most likely to vote against the Republicans. That is black and brown Americans and other minorities. This furibund program is being implemented all over America as we speak. Unless it is halted by the courts, an unlikely outcome given their carefully prepared, right-wing composition, both the 2022 mid-term and the 2024 presidential elections will have interesting outcomes.
These Are the Indicators
Young people hardly read any more. They are too busy being entertained in an all-enveloping universe of electronic devices. “Pop culture” carries the day. The young people who are the future of America will soon be travelling–and leading–without a map or a compass, without criteria to guide them. A cursory look at today’s United States Congress tells us that this process is already under way. The whole Trumpian ethos–which has left a profound imprint on American politics, and may be back in 2024–has its roots in profound, arrogant ignorance.
Neighborhood bookstores are disappearing. Those warm, cosseting places where one could stroll and sample, actually pick up and savor a variety of books at leisure, are gone. Those places fomented reading, learning and quiet reflection, and they have been supplanted by the Amazon delivery robot.
Intellectual crutches are available to everybody online. As long as we have Google nobody needs to know anything. It’s all there–for free. As for reading 1,000 pages of Tolstoy, who needs it? Those twenty bucks can more profitably be spent on the lottery.
Perhaps the most pernicious factor in this whole vortex of ignorance is the milieu. Not only does a young person not read; none of his friends do, nor any of theirs. Nor do his parents, nor the former and possibly next President of the United States.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer Reminds Us (in a book) of the Danger of the Stupidity Epidemic
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a young Lutheran pastor Germany at the outbreak of the Second World War. He was outspoken from the beginning in his opposition to Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich. Arrested at his parents’ home on April 4, 1943 he was shunted from prison to a series of concentration camps before being hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp on April 9, 1945, at the age of 39, just two weeks before Allied troops liberated the camp. While he awaited his execution he wrote Letters and Papers from Prison. One of these essays, entitled On Stupidity, records some of the problems which Bonhoeffer saw at work in Hitler’s rise to power. Though Bonhoeffer and his work have lately been- coopted by the evangelical right, his life and work speak eloquently for themselves. He comments in his essay, On Stupidity:
“Upon closer observation, it becomes apparent that every strong upsurge of power in the public sphere, be it of a political or a religious nature, infects a large part of humankind with stupidity. … The power of the one needs the stupidity of the other. The process at work here is not that particular human capacities, for instance, the intellect, suddenly atrophy or fail. Instead, it seems that under the overwhelming impact of rising power, humans are deprived of their inner independence and, more or less consciously, give up establishing an autonomous position toward the emerging circumstances. The fact that the stupid person is often stubborn must not blind us to the fact that he is not independent. In conversation with him, one virtually feels that one is dealing not at all with him as a person, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like that have taken possession of him. He is under a spell, blinded, misused, and abused in his very being. Having thus become a mindless tool, the stupid person will also be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. This is where the danger of diabolical misuse lurks, for it is this that can once and for all destroy human beings.”
This warning/condemnation of harmful herd stupidity is as relevant today in the United States as it was in the Germany of the 1940s. The proof of the pudding would become clear to many misled Americans if ex-President Donald Trump were to win the Republican candidacy and the Presidency in the 2024 presidential election. By then it would be too late and dumbed-down America’s experience of manipulated voters and rigged elections would enter into history as the definitive case study of massive election success based on a deliberately dumbed-down electorate.
Umair Haque, who publishes today’s most lucid commentary regarding the American nosedive, on Medium.com, has written recently:
To say that little Johnny shouldn’t have to learn about slavery is only to say that he should be able to on being ignorant, and perhaps a bigot, like his parents — the Trumpists — are. And if he beats up a few minorities at school, harasses them, insults them…well, that’s just boys being boys. Just like, apparently, only white dudes get to be CEOs because everyone else is dumber than them, I guess. You see my point.
These are old, old fears. You have to understand them that way to really know them. White Americans have lived with these fears since they colonised the land. The Natives were attacking them. The slaves would rebel. They’re coming for our wives and kids are the oldest, most primal fears in the white American imagination. And here they are, being used to drive white America into a mindless rage, all over again.Umair Haque on Medium.com
Who Profits from Exploiting the Under-Educated?
The American sea of ignorance provides rich fishing for glad handers, witch doctors, militarists and other opportunists in the United States Congress. Their agendas all coincide on one point: re-election is the ultimate good, and they pursue it at all costs. Big business interests knew that for a long time but couldn’t take full advantage of the situation until the United States Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision (January 21, 2010), which gave corporations and some other institutions the status of persons with the same right to contribute freely to election campaigns. Money can buy elections and that decision opened the floodgates to a massive symbiotic relationship between big business and the country’s legislators at all levels.
Before long one of the principal roles of many (most?) lawmakers was as agents of powerful economic interests. The most egregious examples of this phenomenon today are the cases of Senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Lea Sinema of Arizona, both captives of fossil fuel interests to the detriment of their party and constituents nationwide. There are many others, enough to to carry the day on any issue, from “defense” spending to coal, oil and natural gas subsidies. It’s a bi-partisan tradition. You can find legislators from both parties on the wrong side of the street, especially on issues of social justice, racism, militarism and voting rights, to name a few.
Tricking the Turkeys
The leitmotif that ran through the Trump administration was the dismounting of “big government,” and they were alarmingly successful at it. This is evident in Trump’s selection of members for his cabinet, ideologues instead of experts. Their job across the board was to cripple or eliminate government agencies that were vital to the health and wellbeing of the country and potentiate freebooter capitalism. The country has not recovered yet, neither in practical nor ideological terms. A lot of fallout from the Trump years has not been mopped up. Worse than that, a lot of Americans still think Trump was right, even though they were the first victims of his strip-the-country-of-its-defenses policies, and would vote for him if he were a candidate in 2024 .
It’s a classic case of the turkeys voting for Thanksgiving. How do unscrupulous, self-serving politicians convince the turkeys to vote in favor of their own extermination, whether figurative or, in the case of the military, literal. The flag is just a rag but America remains enslaved to the atavistic mental claptrap of patriotism, imperialism and militarism that it supposedly represents.
In the first place candidates for the Thanksgiving table have to be turkeys, i.e. undereducated. Eagles would not fall for such an obvious con. The explanation for such unthinkable barnyard gullibility lies in America’s traditions, myths, mores and folkways. It boils down to different flavors of myopic patriotism, baseless exceptionalism, and bare-faced mendacity on the part of America’s leaders, all part of the compost that fertilizes the American stupidity whose victims voted for a crooked, carnival barker President once–and may well do so again.