Donald Trump is a buffoon, an egomaniac, a racist and appeals to the basest instincts of the electorate, and, might end up as our president.
Bernie Sanders is nipping at Hillary’s heels, Joe Biden, with the blessing of Elizabeth Warren is mulling a run, and in every poll Trump is leading the Republican cabal and is in the mix with Democratic contenders.
In 2008 talking heads proudly proclaimed we had entered a post-racial world, a world in which a black man can be elected president; surely the election of Barrack Obama symbolized the coming of a new age in which race no longer was perceived as a stigma.
Sadly Charleston and the seemingly endless examples of white police officers slaying unarmed blacks or mistreating people of color assail claims of a post-racial America. The “Black Lives Matter” movement on one hand has mobilized a dormant civil rights movement and on the other hand awakened racial antipathy hidden behind smiling faces.
In state after state Trump has tapped into the sentiments that sizzle beneath the surface, Trump says what voters fear to say outside of the confines of the four walls of their home.
In the fall of 1787 Madison, Hamilton and Jay began to write the Federalist Papers, eighty-four what we would call op eds arguing for votes to ratify the constitution. The Federalist Papers were printed in the major newspapers across the thirteen colonies. . In Federalist # 10 Madison warns against the dangers of faction, an issue we see day in and day out in our Congress,
The latent causes of faction are thus sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity, according to the different circumstances of civil society. A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government, and many other points, as well of speculation as of practice; an attachment to different leaders ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to the human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other than to co-operate for their common good.
Would the average voter understand Madison? What has happened? Why have we moved from an electorate able to debate Federalist # 10 to an electorate that cheers for the rantings of Donald Trump, not only cheers but supports him in numbers to drive him to the top of the Republican pool of candidates.
A NY Times article discusses the study of ignorance, a field called agnotology,
People tend to think of not knowing as something to be wiped out or overcome, as if ignorance were simply the absence of knowledge. But answers don’t merely resolve questions; they provoke new ones.
Candidates spew simple answers to complex problems, if we drive out the eleven million undocumented immigrants unemployment will disappear and prosperity will reign. The Chinese are ruining our economy, controlling our debt and we should boycott Chinese products.
Answers are easy to find, just Goggle the Internet, read a blog, and listen to Fox or Bill O’Reilly, simple answers to complex ambiguous questions.
Even more troubling is the poorly educated, the ideologues are not the only citizens who refuse to analyze the complex problems. Paul Krugman worries about the nerds seeing themselves as above politics, and asks,
… why people who pride themselves on their ability to think things through slide into lazy clichés when it comes to politics. And that’s important: just lecturing Silicon Valley types on the need to get serious about politics won’t work if there are deeper reasons smart people get stupid when politics enters the picture.
Fourteen months before the presidential election, ignorance and apathy rule: when will candidates, if ever, debate issues on their merits?
Last week a widely read website sponsored an event entitled “On Education” at the New School University. Chancellor Farina outlined her plans for the upcoming school year. Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch was on a panel with teachers and new State Commissioner Elia was interviewed one-on-one. After the event two “talking heads” discussed the event. The interviewers were unprepared, the talking heads prattled, and there was no serious discussion.
Complex issues are reduced to 140 characters on Twitter, the 24 hour news cycle has been reduced to the 24 second news cycle; “if it bleeds it leads” is the mantra of the NY Post and the NY Daily News.
Aside from Diane Ravitch and a handful of other commenters the educational issues of the day are misunderstand, or reduced to slogans.
Perhaps the CFE lawsuit definition of a “sound basic education” should be a precursor to voting,
In Campaign for Fiscal Equity v. State (CFE I), the court provided what it called a template definition of a sound basic education for the parties and the trial court to explore on remand. The court, like courts in many other states, tied the standard to preparing students to exercise citizenship duties; it said, “Such an education should consist of the basic literacy, calculating, and verbal skills necessary to enable children to eventually function productively as civic participants capable of voting and serving on a jury.” 86 N.Y.2d 307, 316 (1995).