So the town hall “let’s go get yelled at by crazies” gauntlet continues for members of congress. Sen. Claire McCaskill had one yesterday, and this is her take: Really, Sen. McCaskill? Because I think you sounded juuuuussst right:
When a crowd is acting like a bunch of unruly elementary schoolers, the correct approach is to talk to them like they’re one count-to-three away from losing recess. I remember in elementary school, they had a system for dealing with us when we got too loud in the cafeteria. They had the letters R-A-M-S (our mascot) hanging on the wall. If we got too loud, one of the monitors would go remove a letter. If we lost all the letters in one lunch period, we weren’t allowed to talk the rest of the lunch period. This happened VERY rarely. But then again, maybe we elementary schoolers were better behaved than the teabagging health care reform opponents who only want to shut down debate, because they have no actual ideas to contribute to the discussion.
Anyway, don’t feel bad, Sen. McCaskill. You struck exactly the right tone. You go on with your bad self.
I’m reading David McCullough’s biography of John Adams, and one thing that has struck me again and again is how strongly Adams believed that education was essential to the success of the American system. As a younger man writing about what he thought a government should be, Adams wrote:
Laws for the liberal education of youth, especially for the lower classes of people, are so extremely wise and useful that to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.
Later, after the Revolution had ended and he began advocating for the type of government that would be instituted for the United States in its wake, Adams wrote:
Knowledge must become so general as to raise the lower ranks of society nearer to the higher. The education of a nation, instead of being confined to a few schools and universities for the instruction of the few, must become the national care and expense for the formation of the many.
Even at the end of the 1700s, Adams understood that the best way to lift people out of poverty was through education. And Adams also fully believed that educated people not bogged down by poverty made the best citizens, able to be engaged with and participatory in our truly revolutionary system of democracy.
Over the years that followed, we sometimes lost our way. Sometimes we were eager to say that there was nothing we could do to overcome poverty, because there was nothing we could do about poor people’s intelligence– it was just genetics, you see. Maybe the best we could hope for was to give them welfare and other government assistance and hope for the best, but we’d always have poor people, and it was just a fact. Continue reading “land of the free, home of the…educated?”