Friday, March 14, 2014

A New Political Party

If you have any doubts about whether or not education debate turns the political spectrum into a giant Ouroborean worm disappearing into its own innards, consider this.

Here's a quote from a website devoted to a particular issue:

Americans need to understand that sacrifice and a hard work ethic are the motherhood of invention and success. If you are not successful or not happy with your lot in life, it is your responsibility to pull yourself up by the bootstraps and clean up the mess.

Now take a guess-- what issue is the writer railing about? How about this one?

When Cedric Jennings was born, the odds were stacked against him. His father was often in jail, and his mother's income barely kept the family fed and housed. They lived in too many places to recall—from short-term rentals, to pull-out couches in relatives' homes, to unheated apartments. Cedric walked home alone from school each day past drug dealers through southeast Washington, D.C., at the height of the city's crack epidemic.
For many children, such circumstances portend unhappy outcomes. Somehow, though, Cedric beat the odds, graduated from high school, and gained acceptance to Brown University, where he graduated with honors on his way to earning graduate degrees from Harvard and the University of Michigan.

The first is from a website promoting David A Bego's book The Devil at our Doorstep, a book meant to sound the alarm against big government and the welfare state. The second comes from an article on the ASCD site discussing the research behind grit.

Paul Ryan says that we have a cycle of non-working black men who have been lulled to sleep in the safety hammock, caught in the poverty trap. Arne Duncan says that the children of white suburban moms have been lulled into laziness; Frank Rich rushes to his defense by noting that children are coddled. To improve America, Paul Ryan and John Boehner want to raise welfare requirements to push Americans to work harder. To improve America, Arne Duncan and Barrack Obama want to raise school requirements to push American children to work harder. After unemployment runs out, no excuses. Which you can learn about at a no excuses school.

Maybe "neo" in "neo-con" and "neo-liberal" means "not so much"? Forget trying to sort parties out. It seems we have a new party in play, covering a broader range than either GOP or Democrats, transcending and including members of both. It's the "What Those Other People Need Is A Good Swift Kick in the Ass" Party, and it's platform on education and welfare is exactly the same.

No wonder we have a hard time figuring out who our friends are.No wonder people are starting to think politics is more about class and money than anything else.

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