Every time a new president takes office, one of those top items on the four-year plan is education.
- More pre-school.
- All-day kindergarten.
- Higher graduation rates.
- Free college.
And on and on and on.
Meanwhile magnet and charter schools eviscerate the public education system and colleges price themselves beyond the reach of the average working American. Education is suffering, but it may not be merely an American phenomenon. Recent polls taken in England concerning their possible secession from the EU indicate that it is primarily the uneducated Brits who want England and the EU to part company. Along with these so-called leavers, and often included among them, are the strict nationalists—the England-First faction—that want an end to immigration which, they believe, has befouled the purity of their country. Unfortunately for the leavers, the sun will continue to set on the British Empire every evening as it has for a good long time. That ship of world dominion—the whole armada—has sailed.
If this all has a familiar ring to it, there’s a good reason: the same attitudes are holding sway here in the United States. We’re not seceding from anything, but we’re beginning to see large groups of disgruntled Americans who blame the nation’s problems on immigration and/or immigrants. They align behind Donald Trump who promises a return to greatness. (Similar phraseology is being used in England.) Not surprisingly, in America these are the same people who fight like crazy to protect everyone’s right to own a semi-automatic rifle, not sensing that the rampant sale and use of guns might itself be a problem.
The situation in England is too complex to summarize here, but an interesting twist is that Scotland may itself break away from an England that drops out of the EU. Scotland is a famously progressive country and doesn’t hold with England’s antiquated socialists. (A reason to drink Scotch, perhaps?) Beyond that, Brexit (British exit from the EU) would create economic hardships in England and here, with a ripple effect worldwide.
Which brings me in a roundabout way to Jo Cox, the member of Parliament murdered last week by one Tommy Mair, a hitherto quiet 52-year-old with a sketchy but nondescript history. According to Cox’s husband, his Jo had become concerned over the coarsening of political discourse in the EU debate. She herself respected the differences of opinion, he said, but the personal attacks and the whipping up of fear and hatred distressed her. Mr. Mair, with his shouts of “Britain First” as he stabbed the woman, illustrates pretty clearly what she feared the most.
Fear and hatred—the bywords of the Trump campaign: fear of Mexicans and Muslims; hatred of the media and his opponent; disdain for what he calls political correctness but what we used to call decorum; and contempt for the intellectuals whom we used to call the educated.
Donald Trump, if elected, will be the first president not to agonize over the weakening or diluting of education—an ignorant electorate will continue to be his greatest resource.