One of the benefits to Republicans in sitting back and allowing Russia to install their party’s standard bearer in the White House was successfully dividing America; it has been a regular goal and campaign tactic of the GOP since Reagan. The GOP has pitted its supporters against any and all groups that aren’t religious, white or wealthy for a few decades. And, Trump has done his part in driving a wedge between his religious racist acolytes and every other demographic in America; it’s safe to say divisiveness and animosity is about the only thing dumb Donnie’s accomplished since that damn dark day he announced his candidacy and incited every stupid bigot to attack everything crucial to a functioning democracy.
Of course by now one or two semi-intelligent Americans are cognizant that a free press (media for you morons) is critical to democracy; something even George W. Bush admitted since Trump began his fascist attack on the media. However, there is another integral aspect necessary for a successful democracy that everyone from Founding Father Thomas Jefferson to Winston Churchill expressed as some iteration of this simple sentiment:
“The cornerstone of democracy rests on the foundation of an educated electorate.”
At this juncture in American history with a half-wit White House occupant leading a political movement dedicated to anti-intellectualism as fervently as they are evangelical fundamentalism, only a fool would argue that Republicans in general and Trump in particular support democracy.
That being the case, the current administration certainly hates the very idea of an “educated electorate” and it informs the current Republican crusade to destroy public education in favor of inculcating archaic religious dogmata to keep the public stupid and Republicans in power. As the results of a new Pew Research Center poll reveal, Republicans are winning the war on intelligence and intellectualism because a majority of their number ardently perceive education, especially higher education, as more dangerous than the media. They also believe that education is bad for America, similarly to Trump’s assertion that the United States Constitution is “really bad for Americans.”
This increasing animus toward education is a result of both Trump and the conservative movement’s “long game of denigrating U.S institutions to reshape political discourse” into a partisan divide between the stupid and the informed. Only an idiot can’t see that the stupid is winning by a wide margin based on the support Republicans enjoy as they deconstruct America, attack democracy, and elevate the rich and the religious as “real Americans.”
According to the Pew Poll, in a not-so-stunning reversal from less than two years ago, a majority of Republicans are certain that colleges and universities have had a decidedly “negative impact” on America. The poll reported that “fifty-eight percent [of Republicans] say that colleges are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country.” Among Democrats and left-leaning independent voters, 72 percent still claim that “colleges and universities have a positive effect on the nation.” Not surprising, about the same number of Republicans (73 percent) believe that Wall Street, banks, financial institutions, and evangelical churches have a decidedly positive impact on the nation.
What that means is that Wall Street and banks that decimated the economy less than a decade ago are substantially more popular among Republican voters than colleges whether it is Stanford, Harvard, or the University of Toledo. Exactly a year-and-a-half ago, 54 percent of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the direction of the country. It was exactly a year-and-a-half ago that Trump began his crusade to deconstruct democracy.
As the Pew poll demonstrated, this sudden antipathy toward higher education is a stark departure from just over a year ago; about the time Trump began his attack on intelligence whether it was making up his own facts or blatantly lying and getting pissed that the media calls him on it.
One of the reasons Republicans hate colleges and universities is their claim that institutions of higher education are “bastions of liberal indoctrination.” Liberal indoctrination is Republican code for critical thinking, not adhering to religion and not embracing anti-democratic conservative policies. In fact, it is no coincidence that since Trump and conservatives attacked what they call “the scourge of political correctness” they have ramped up their vicious attacks on the very institutions that defend the democratic diversity of voices among informed students.
For example, just recently Arizona Republicans threatened to “cut funding from public institutions that offer courses and events that are designed primarily for pupils of a particular ethnic group,” or if they advocate for “solidarity” among various ethnic, racial, religious or gender groups. Add to that Trump’s threat to “defund” the University of California at Berkeley because students exercised their constitutional rights of free speech and peaceable assembly protesting the appearance of a seriously nasty right-wing “provocateur.”
As noted in a Salon article, conservatives have always attacked academia on the general principle that it is anti-American for any institution to promote intelligent inquiry and critical thinking, but since those institutions are “increasingly filled with members of marginalized communities” Republican attacks are beginning to resonate with racist, bigoted, and religious Republicans; a fact not lost on Republicans dependent on rank stupidity and hate to stay in power. Unfortunately, Republicans are taking preemptive steps to shut down dissent at college campuses now that their base believes higher learning is destroying America.
Last month, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) convened a hearing titled “Free Speech 101: the Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses.” It is perfectly fine for ultra-right wing maniacs to exercise their free hate speech, but the student protestors are not extended the same courtesy. In fact, last month Wisconsin Republicans passed a bill allowing college administrators to expel students if they dare disrupt right-wing speakers.
It is important to reiterate that about a year-and-a-half ago, 54 percent of all Republicans claimed that higher education, colleges and universities, had a positive effect on the nation. One doesn’t have to reiterate to anyone exactly what happened about a year-and-a-half ago and in precisely the same fashion that conservatives turned against “the media,” they turned against colleges and universities. What is historical, and a damn frightening prospect, is that all tyrannical fascist dictators began their reign of terror by attacking the media and institutions of higher learning.
Republicans have always depended on “stupid” Americans to stay in power, and it is bad enough they are on a tear to dismantle public education and replace it with for-profit private religious schools. But is it simply atrocious that their crusade against higher education is bearing fruit among their idiot supporters – another sign that America is devolving rapidly into a barbaric uncivilized society without a functioning government.
Anyone who doesn’t believe it should be aware that nations with a better-educated population have better and more responsive governments simply because voters think critically, ask politicians the right questions, and call them out if they lie. It is precisely why Republican politicians want to destroy public education and why their ignorant sap supporters think higher education is bad for America. It is another bad sign for America, its people, and its democracy.