In a post yesterday I suggested that a way forward for supporters of Bernie Sanders was to create a Democratic Socialist Party. Yes, I already know there is one of that name, but it is run much like the Vegetarian Party and other fringe parties. I am talking about a real party, one that can achieve 20+% support from voters. If Bernie were to take that step and create a New Democratic Socialist Party, he might bring a sizable number of people into it, something none of the fringe parties currently have.
Well under the “ask and ye shall receive” category, I encountered Two Tyrants: The Myth of a Two Party Government and the Liberation of the American Voter by A. G. Roderick (City of Gold Publishing. Kindle Edition). This tome is focused not on bashing the two major parties we have, but in offering pragmatic solutions to resolve the tyranny imposed by two powerful private corporations who do everything in their power to stifle competition (along with democracy), so I bit on it and started reading.
“Both parties deal with corporate corruption in vastly different ways. Republicans sing the praises of corporations, and then turn a blind eye to corporate corruption in exchange for campaign donations. Democrats, on the other hand, publicly complain of the unfair influence and inherent evil of corporations. Only then do they turn a blind eye to corporate corruption in exchange for campaign donations.”
But then I read this:
“A 2012 report on 15-year-olds from 65 nations yielded the following sobering results: American students scored below the average in math. They were not quite average in science and reading. US students ranked 30th, 23rd and 20th in math, science and reading, respectively. What’s worse, the United States spends more money per student than any other country in the developed world. Our children are ill prepared for the global competition they will increasingly face. These shameful statistics have some of their roots in the absolutism of our two-party politics. The linchpin of the education policy debate in America is the role of teachers unions. Teachers unions are a wildly wealthy and powerful lobby in America. The majority of their political contributions go to Democratic candidates. As such, Democratic minds become clouded by union cash. The Democratic Party structure is built on the foundation of monetary support by unions. Therefore, for Democrats to maintain the influx of union money, the good of the unions must be paramount to the good of the students.”
This meme is totally false and emblematic of what has become of our political discourse. Disinformation is created and then echoed in “safe” media outlets for years and then proffered as a known truism. Memes can be true or false. This one is quite false.
Unions have no real power in Democratic Party politics anymore. All they can expect is lip service. Notably, President Obama pissed all over the union movement by not pursuing pro-union legislation from day one of his presidency. (Then there was the Caterpillar Tractor episode, etc.) Also, “union cash”? really? Corporations outspent unions 10 to 1 in the last presidential election. In this one, I expect that ratio to be even higher.
Now, let’s get to the core of the argument the author is making “Our children are ill prepared for the global competition they will increasingly face.” This is true but it isn’t due to any failure of the educational system. The biggest problem facing our future is poverty. Of all of the educational comparisons that can be made internationally, we rank in the middle … and have since the 1960’s! … because we have rich and poor students. The rich do very, very well. (If you just put Massachusetts’s international test scores against the rest of the world, they are near the top, for example.) The poor do, well, poorly. It has been shown over and over again that poverty trumps education as far as predicting how well “students” will do. Another false meme currently being constructed is that education cures poverty. This is a Horatio Alger supported piece of wishful thinking. You can support it only with anecdotes of people who transcended their poverty and education was involved. But if you look at the whole picture and not cherry-picked examples, poverty is a huge barrier to a better future.
And, since we have been scoring the same on these international tests since the 1960’s how is it we have remained the dominant economy in the world for the last 50 years? Might it have something to do with the fact that we don’t need all students to excel, that we only need enough? The fact that we have STEM graduates who cannot find jobs, for example, tells us that we are creating a surplus of those highly educated graduates. Is the author saying we need “more” to be competitive?
I have only scratched the surface of this book and my hope is there are viable, useful suggestions as to how to proceed with a third party movement. A full report will come later.
Oh, and the real reason “Our children are ill prepared for the global competition they will increasingly face” is that the oligarchs and the bought and paid for political parties have decided that they will use “global competition” to restrict wages and to control workers. When jobs are at a premium, especially good jobs, workers who get them will not rock the boat by making demands or, Heaven forbid, form a union. The bulk of our economy is domestic, but corporations are taking our jobs overseas and then importing the same goods back into the U.S. that could have been made here. Their profits have soared and the number of good jobs has shrunk substantially (and actual wages with them). They have transformed our children from citizens to consumers. They will have no role to play in government, other that the mummery of choosing between candidates who aren’t really any different. They will have just enough income to buy stuff the corporations want them to buy. But to inherit a better future than their parents, naw, that is gone … for now … unless we change the system.