"It is not our job to see that anyone gets an education. It is not the responsibility of me, you, or any constituent in my district to pay for his or any other persons [sic] education. Their GPA, ACT, AS[V]AB, determination have nothing to do with who is responsible. Their potential to benefit society is irrelevant."
-- State Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-OK)
It would be easy to say that when you write on your website against education, you probably would want to be sure you don't make any typos and therefore spell "persons'" correctly. But a typo is a typo and moot.
It would also be easy to say that a Republican talking about how irrelevant it is to benefit society is to be expected, since that's largely the GOP position against so many things, like Social Security, Medicare, health care, civil rights, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, the 40-hour work week, the TVA, equal pay for women, affirmative action, federal deposition insurance, child labor laws and more.
But no, I'm going to ignore all that and, instead, I'm actually going to agree with Mike Reynolds! Because what he said in his first sentence, finally stating out loud what I've long suggested has been the Republican Party's position for over 60 years. To demean education.
When Republicans ran again Adlai Stevenson in 1952 and 1956, their big complaint against him was that he was "an egghead." In other words, he was too smart.
When John Kennedy was elected president in 1960, the Republican complaint was that he had a "Harvard Mafia" advising him. People who were too smart. And you just can't trust them, those smart people.
When Richard Nixon got elected president in 1968 and 1972, college students were so high on his Enemies List that it was unsurprising when four students were killed by the National Guard. The Nixon Administration response, in part, referenced the "bums" on campus. Those smart kids -- sorry, those smart, dead kids who were just trouble.
When George H.W. Bush (the first) ran for re-election as "the education president" he told a crowd of laborers at a Los Angeles rally that getting a college education wasn't necessary in today's society compared to the work they did. A point worth addressing, but terribly odd coming from someone calling himself "the education president" and playing down the importance of getting educated.
When his son, George W. Bush, was president he notably underfunded "No Child Left Behind" for raising education standards.
The point here is that more than the past half century Republicans have seemingly never felt it was their "job to see that anyone gets an education." Rather, it's been their job to see that the public mistrusts education, and try to convince everyone that people who are "too smart" are a threat, not the promise of improving society.
But then, it's understandable. Because when you downplay education, the public won't be in as strong a position to see through obfuscation, question lies, and dismiss unsupportable positions. More to the point, it leaves people relying instead on belief, then on faith, and ultimately on needing the word of others to lead them. In the end, it becomes the core of religion as a political viewpoint in a secular society. And what you get is a far right religious base. A base that ultimately operates on that very belief, personal faith, rather than what is good and real and beneficial to everyone in society.
So, no, it is not the Republican Party's job to see that anyone gets an education. It is their prayer that people don't.
And Mike Reynolds just stated it eloquently.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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