The Third Pillar

For years I have said that the three pillars upon which the modern Republican Party stands are greed, racism/bigotry and the promotion of ignorance. I am among those who feel that Trump is not an anomaly but an inevitable outcome of modern Republican politics. When he falls from power we will hear Republicans say that he was not really them. That will be another lie. Last week we saw further proof of this. Let’s explore.

Greed keeps the financiers in the fold; and the poor white minions who erroneously feel they are just one break away from becoming rich.

Racism/bigotry is aimed at the poor whites who feel they would be rich and in power if it wasn’t for “the others” who have been given an unfair advantage which rightfully belongs to them because they are white and “normal”.

The promotion of ignorance is a way to keep the poor white masses believing the right wing mythology which in turn gives the financiers part of the exploitable labor force they desire (to somewhat satisfy their greed with) and the numbers at the polls the Republicans need to keep their candidates in power.

There you have the basic philosophy and strategy of the modern Republican Party in three short paragraphs.

Like any organized criminal enterprise the Trump administration sees an opportunity to skim a few bucks in a disaster; the current one being the coronavirus pandemic. The GOP sees an opportunity to slyly institute change while reinforcing their third pillar. When you put that all together you get the Trump administration’s latest salvo in their war on public education and the elected Republicans in both Washington and state capitals will be only too happy to play right along.

How, if and when to reopen schools for the 2020-2021 academic year is a challenge to say the least. I have looked at the plans from several school districts in North Carolina and Virginia; while they are all slightly different they show great forethought. The reality is that we are in territory not seen in at least 100 years and therefore new to anyone in power today. There is no “book” to go back to or old mentor to call and with the lack of national leadership predicting the future is almost impossible.

Trump, who has handled the crisis worse than any other leader of an advanced country is saying open up the schools as if nothing has happened and there is no threat. That is suicide. Why would he do that? Part of the answer is that he has often handled problems by simply denying they exist. Why should the pandemic be any different? Also he, via his financiers, sees an opportunity to cash in. (Another political factor outside today’s discussion is that Trump wants to create the appearance that the American economy is fully reopened and just fine.)

Many parents will be unwilling to put their children in school five days a week because they know this is inviting bringing the coronavirus into their homes possibly killing them and/or their family members. Most Americans are unqualified to homeschool their kids and many of them are only willing to admit that they cannot do it unaided. Many of Trump’s financiers are in the business of online learning which the parents will all too willingly purchase (most often with local and state governments picking up the tab).

Interestingly the Trump administration will say that online schooling doesn’t work when it is basically a teacher via Zoom. Yet these online curriculums do? And this is the same administration that is spending a large portion of the GI education benefits at online “colleges”. Follow the money!

As soon as Trump tweeted his desire to reopen the schools like normal the most prominent right wing indoctrination center posing as a private school in my area announced that it would be open as usual in the fall holding in person classes five days a week. I’m certain my area was not unique. Interestingly, this school had a positive coronavirus case last spring and closed for the day reopening the next morning claiming that the school building had undergone a complete cleaning the night before. You connect those dots.

All colleges and universities are not academically equal. Harvard and MIT are among the elite. They have filed suit against the Trump administration for their plan to revoke the visas of foreign students if the only classes they attend are online classes. This along with a threat against their non-profit status is an attempt to intimidate them into taking unsafe actions. Regardless of the ultimate outcome the Trump administration has sown the seeds of uncertainty and is attempting to intimidate these institutions. America’s post-secondary education system is regarded as the best in the world mainly because of institutions like Harvard and MIT. Why would the GOP try to destroy it? Could it be because those schools by and large prepare their graduates to do critical thinking and therefore they tend not to vote Republican?

Let me cover one more factor before I say goodbye for the day: the faculty. Educators at public schools and major universities are for the most part unionized and almost without exception more highly educated than the populations they serve. As a result of that they tend to vote disproportionately Democrat and in fact are among the best volunteers most Democratic campaigns attract. That makes them dangerous to Trump and the GOP.

The Republican Party has been waging a war on traditional public education and our elite universities for years. Under Trump it has gone to a new level. I offer Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as proof and rest my case. In the spirit of Ronald Reagan (highway funds) Trump is trying to seize the opportunity presented by the pandemic to weaken public education by starving it of money.

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