One year my son decided that white T-shirts went with everything, and he chose lots of plain white shirts. Shortly after school started, he came home with a note to the effect that no student was allowed to wear a plain white shirt, green shoe laces or red bandanas. These articles of clothing were considered “gang wear” and were forbidden. A small number of children who wore such things frightened some adults who made the rule.
This year, tiny Stephenville Independent School District leads Texas in the number of books banned from its libraries (ACLU). The reasons for banning the books range from content offensive to religious sensibilities to nudity and sexuality. Stephenville ISD banned books that have not even been published yet, when they blocked two unfinished series of teen fiction books about vampires. Are they trying to protect children from “potential evil”?
These are both examples of a vocal minority imposing its will on the majority. The United States Congress is running the same way. No Republican dares vote for any suggestion supported by President Obama, even if she supported the same policy two years ago.
The minority rules, and rules badly. Instead of building a nation, we spend our time fighting. Instead investing in infrastructure and technology, we claim that the budget must balance, and then we fight over whether the people who have the most or those who have the least should pay the bill. Of course the moneyed class will spend a fortune to fight tax hikes. Are they really sure it is not simply cheaper to write a check to the IRS?
There are fringe-element lunatics who can bring the country to a standstill by threatening to burn some books. Where someone builds a mosque seems more important than whether American children can read. Governor Rick Perry managed to deny the school children of Texas the help of federal education funds when he inserted a phrase in the state’s application to the effect that Texas would do what it damn well pleased with the money it got from Washington. “No problem,” said the feds, “the kids just won’t get the money.” And so Texas can apply again, and until the money comes, in Texas, Johnny still can’t read.
It is hard to believe that Americans really want their children to go uneducated, but it is equally hard to convince some on the radical right that they are undermining the foundation of the American Dream. It is hard to believe that people really believe that only Americans who can afford to pay for health care up front should have it, but people argue against universal access to health care as though they were personally going to have to go broke paying for it.
It is really hard to believe that more than a few loud jerks think that things are getting worse instead of better, or that it should all be fixed by now. The recession was brought on by a number of factors, not least of which was two very expensive wars. Eight years of irresponsibility cannot be fixed in a year or two.
In fact, the noise about how bad the Democrats in congress are is out of proportion to their actions. Americans were pretty sick of the Republican agenda in 2008. That agenda has not changed in the last two years. Unless you are rich, the Republicans are promising you less: less government, less education, less prosperity, less accountability and less security. They’ll send more of your children to war, take more of your money, and leave you with more public debt.
A sorry Democrat will at least help you out sometimes. Retire a Republican from congress in November.