Trump’s Attack on Education: It’s Not About Reason
“Resentment is no excuse for bald faced stupidity.” – Garrison Keillor
Rivers of ink are now in fast flow dissecting the outcome and implications of Trump’s electoral upset. Political pathologists are twisting themselves inside out to formulate plausible reasons for these results. But this is not about reason.
Leaving aside Trump’s obvious misogyny, xenophobia, disdain for human rights and open disregard for the institutions and functions of civil government, the glaring omission in the autopsy of this election is the implicit attack on education and learning. “I love the uneducated!”, Trump shouted repeatedly during the campaign. We’re now hearing quite a lot about ‘educated elites’ who overlooked the angry uneducated vote which propelled Trump’s campaign.
The growth of a new brand of loud mouthed anti-intellectualism in recent years condemns education itself as a culprit in the failure of government. Finger pointing at ‘the educated elite’ as a source of resentment and backlash merely panders to the infantile envies of those unwilling to participate in the broadest forms of education or sustainable civil government. The proposal that leadership should diminish or vilify the pursuit of education to superficially appease an unreasoning resentment is a regressive plea for madness.
What rational argument can possibly defend such wilful backwardness? Are there real or lasting benefits to attacking education? Of course not. Anti-intellectualism merely excuses ignorance and indulges the kind of playground tactics which seek to tear down others to make itself feel taller. As a basis of civil leadership is nothing short of dangerous, arrogant folly. If there is a ground swell of resentment driving an anti-intellectual movement for Trump, clearly the rational response is more and better education, not less. Rather than being the culprit in a democratic defeat, better and broader education is the obvious remedy.
“When people show you who they are, believe them.” – Maya Angelou
There is no reason to believe president Trump will be anything other than candidate Trump, an empty flip-flopping of incendiary nonsense calculated to get the loudest bang. His contrarian politics are like cinematic smash-em-up car chases without any pretence to constructive narrative, a bratty kid blowing things up while excusing his own crass brutality by the sniggering of his audience. (Don’t laugh, it’ll only encourage him.)
It has already been made abundantly clear that Trump is plainly uninterested in and openly disdainful of the functions and institutions of government. He’s not in this to govern. This is exactly what it looks like: an infantile narcissist’s monstrous game of winning the biggest shiny toy in the playground.
Blaming education is so much salt in this election’s many wounds.
[Meg Green is a Canadian ex-pat living in London, UK. She spent her first four decades living, travelling and pursuing education on both sides of America’s northern border.]