Education is the backbone of democracy. THIS IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT THAT IT BEARS REPEATING.Democracies don’t work very well, and often don’t work at all, with an uneducated electorate. Even countries with educated electorates often fall back into dictatorship if they don’t continually nurture their democracies. Democracy is a fragile concept, which, history tells us, is not the normal state of human governance. There are far more examples of failed democracies than there are of successful ones.
The U.S. is currently undergoing a test of its democracy. This is partially because it has naively assumed that democracy is an obviously better governance concept. I hate to be the purveyor of bad news, but it isn’t obvious, and such an assumption is very dangerous. What, then, can we do to prolong the survival of U.S. democracy? I have one basic suggestion, that I think, is fundamental. Education, education, and more education.
I have previously suggested that equal opportunity in the U.S., or anywhere for that matter, can only be comprehensively achieved through equal education. I still vehemently promote that viewpoint, but let me look at it from broader angle. Equal education, leading to equal opportunity, may well be the only way to save democracy. Constructive voting requires knowledge, judgement, ethics, civics and a commitment to democratic principles. Voting, just for the sake of voting, can lead anywhere. It has produced U.S. democracy. It has also produced Putin’s Russia, China’s democracy and a variety of other dictatorial regimes that masquerade as democracies. I submit that voting by an educated and informed electorate shortens the odds that democracy can actually work closer to its conceptual heart.
The current political crisis in the U.S. has been created, not by just one man, but by the mainstream of U.S. politicians and citizens not paying attention. That inattention has allowed many groups to feel alienated, frustrated, angry, and, eventually, mad as hell. Apart from the lunatic fringe, they have good reason to feel mad-as-hell, at least in their own minds. Many of the far right feel they have lost their country to minority interests. Many minorities feel they have never been accepted as full citizens. Virtually everyone feels that their government, regardless of the party in power, has totally lost its way. It’s a political time-bomb waiting to explode.
Yes, we need to incarcerate the lunatic fringe, and cut off their inflammatory rhetoric, in order to eliminate the distracting “noise” factor. That’s the easy bit. However, we have to responsibly address the alienation, fear and concerns of the wider population in a concerted and comprehensive way. Band aid programs won’t work anymore.
I am suggesting that a long-term, drastic-but-necessary, five-part, strategy can help. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be quick, but the U.S. has the money, the infrastructure and the talent to achieve it. All it needs is the vision and commitment.
First, federalize public education. Second, install a National curriculum from kindergarten to high school. Third, make ethics, civics, world history, environmental, and science courses, obligatory for all. Fourth, make voting obligatory for every citizen. And, fifth, embed all of this in the Constitution.
A tall order? Absolutely. A necessary process? Also absolutely, if U.S. democracy is to survive.
EDUCATION: THE BACKBONE OF DEMOCRACY
4 thoughts on “EDUCATION: THE BACKBONE OF DEMOCRACY”
This is a great article. Yes, an investment in a proper and uniform education now will make for a brighter future for generations to come.
Thanks for the note. I’m glad you enjoyed it. I did send a note on federalizing public education to Biden. You never know who might read it. Talk soon.
I agree this should be in every country ,there is no better investment than education, here in Mexico not only they want you ignorant they also want you poor , so Democracy is managed by hunger and ignorance.
You remind me of Puerto Rico. The last thing politicians there wanted was an educated electorate. Someone might have the audacity to question what they were doing!!
I hope you enjoy the blogs. I write about three a week on all sorts of topics and usually publish on Sundays.
We are supposed to hear some news from the banks on the Italy project in the near future.