SELF-IMPROVEMENT

From this week’s New Yorker Magazine: “Voters continually tell pollsters how disgusted they are that government doesn’t function, then cast their ballots in patterns that all but insure gridlock.”

Reflecting on this perpetual suicide, it’s clear to us that education in this country is a failure. Not necessarily among children and young people, but also and even more importantly among grown-ups.

Adults in the United States of America, for the most part, don’t know how to think. Or how to listen. Or how to distinguish between realities.

How else can one read the few words from the New Yorker and contemplate the future?

If, as pollsters tell us repeatedly, a majority of adult Americans agree about gun registration, about minimum wage issues, about Veterans’ Affairs, about the economy, about ebola and ISIS, about Iraq and Afghanistan, national security and privacy, how then can these same adults pull their levers for politicians committed to making sure the government does not work?

That, after all, was the platform on which Republicans have been running for the past two years. And on which they will “run the country” for the next two.

It was Mitch McConnell who warned in 2009 that everything the Republicans were going to do was aimed at making Mr. Obama a one-term president. And as president he is the only member of a limited tribe who had not one day of a traditional “honeymoon,” either from the press, the public, his own party member, or the opposition.

Despite the real and genuine pleasure and excitement millions felt at overcoming a racial barrier when they voted him into office, his presidency was declared, by that same Mitch McConnell, as dead on arrival.

How many millions heard this estimate? How many Americans have forgotten it? How many voters forgot it again in 2014, imagining somehow that on the usual topics of public concern, their own good instincts would be ratified by the old, white guys on the Republican tickets around the country, those same old white guys who singly and together made sure that the nation as a whole became a laughing stock internationally? This year, some of those old white guys have been replaced by younger-looking versions of themselves. What a relief.

How can millions of Americans give so much materially and financially to charities and the homeless and to war veterans and to food and fuel banks without understanding that Republicans wake daily in Washington, and around various state capitols, to a bugle call of obstructionism?

Ah, you might say, we’ve heard all this before. Why don’t they relax a little?

The answer is that for the next two years we’re going to be strapped into our chairs watching gridlock continue day after day.

How much of this can we stand and continue to allow ourselves still to believe we live in a democracy where the people rule?

Folks, the people do not rule. The Supreme Court has ensured that well-endowed corporations and PACS rule. The average Joe may feel differently about an idea, a problem, a solution, but with an average guy’s vocal range and bankroll, he will be found to be nearly silent. It takes BIG MEGAPHONES to persuade people of the value of your ideas, or lack thereof.

And it’s that lack that we are about to be pummelled by.

The habitual misunderstanding of the nation as a whole – that good deeds and words necessarily follow good words and campaign promises – is astounding. Can Americans not learn, not hear? Are Americans incapable of making distinctions between charlatans and men and women who genuinely care?

How can we as a nation complain and criticize about the math and reading and science scores of our elementary and secondary school students – whether they rank 13th or 36th or 85th on an international scale – and scarify and demonize teachers and school boards and the Department of Education when we as a people set an example of intolerance, stupidity, selfishness?

How about investing a little money in remedial reading, writing,and arithmetic for grown-ups? People over 35 years of age would be required to have at least one year of critical thinking, reading between the lines, understanding, say, if they needed food stamps, that to vote for the party that wants to cut nutrition for the needy is NOT the party you want to see in power. Or that men and women who favor raising the minimum wage are often not the people on the Republican line on your ballot. It appears, due to the inability of understanding how the world works, that Americans do NOT always vote their pocket-books because they don’t know where their pocket-books are or what’s left in them.

If, as we’ve stated more than once, we get the government we deserve, don’t we also get the social, economic, and societal disparities we deserve? If we can’t think straight, how can we expect that our kids are better able to do so?

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