The de-evolution of the GOP into the Cult of Trump is more frightening by the day. In my younger years, the Reagan conservatives touted democracy—usually when they were contrasting us to their number one enemy: Russia.
How times have changed.
Right-wing conservatives in Michigan, led by Trump nut state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R), (@pjcolbeck), are forcing Michigan schools to adopt “new standards” that do some sick stuff to social studies. The term “core democratic values” has been stricken—replaced with “core values”.
The reason? It’s too “partisan”:
”Some believed that even using the word ‘democratic’ implied partisan leanings,” said Rebecca Baker-Bush, a social studies consultant with the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District who served on the standards committee and who is also president of the Michigan Council on the Social Studies. “That was a new one on me.”
One requirement for anyone wanting to be governor should be an understanding of the term “democratic”. Several teachers and professors have tried to take Colbeck back to school in an op-ed posted by the Detroit Free Press:
Core democratic values are derived from the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and other specific documents, speeches and writings of the nation. They include the rights to liberty, equality, the common good (general welfare), diversity (pluralism) and property.
Developing a reasoned commitment to these values enables students to recognize shared beliefs that bind them together as citizens, even when they disagree on particular public issues. As teacher educators we are deeply concerned about any de-emphasis of the core democratic values in name or in substance.
And because it’s just impossible to have any story about the GOP without adding bigotry, Colbeck’s got you covered:
The [old] standard about the expansion of civil rights for minorities in the 20th century included specific references to Native Americans, Latinos, people with disabilities, and gays and lesbians. They were removed in the proposed new standards, while language was added saying that the expansion of civil rights for some groups can be seen as “an infringement of rights and freedoms” of others.
Oh go screw yourself.
Only a conservative would argue that letting someone drink from the same water fountain as you is infringing on their “rights”.
The Washington Post has the old and new standards side-by-side so you can see all the redlining that was done. The Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington, and the Voting Rights Act were deleted. The historic role the NAACP played in the Civil Rights movement was downplayed, as well as all references to Roe v. Wade. Orwell at its best: you never fight for rights if you never learn you have them. Speaking of which:
Lest you think that only the term “core democratic principles” were redlined—no dice. Not only do the new standards wipe out the term “democratic”, they delete the term “democracy” as well.
The justification, according to Colbeck, is that the United States is not a democracy, but a republic—a line that is often repeated by conservatives. It is false: America is, and always has been, a representative democracy. At least, that’s what it is supposed to be, and will hopefully remain that after the Trump years.
But that isn’t why Colbeck did this at all. That’s not what this is really all about. The media won’t call this out, even though the GOP has openly declared what they are doing.
As conservative author David Frum admits, the new GOP hates democracy, because, in his own words:
The Republican party has a platform that can’t prevail in democratic competition.
WHEN HIGHLY COMMITTED PARTIES BELIEVE STRONGLY [IN] THINGS THAT THEY CANNOT ACHIEVE DEMOCRATICALLY, THEY DON’T GIVE UP THEIR BELIEFS — THEY GIVE UP ON DEMOCRACY
It’s why the GOP fights tooth and nail to make voting as hard as possible, to kick people off voter rolls, to gerrymander, to appoint ideologues to the Courts, to blow up all institutional norms in Congress: the new GOP has a twisted agenda, and they don’t care how they get it.
Democracy isn’t to be protected, it’s to be thwarted.
The GOP is working towards doing that in a number of ways. This story is one small, petty, and yet simultaneously significant blow: an attempt to remove democracy’s reverence from our textbooks.
Pat Colbeck is running to replace Rick Snyder, the Flint scandal-plagued republican governor of Michigan. The top two Democratic candidates polling are Shri Thanedar and Gretchen Whitmer. Thanedar is a millionaire running on a very progressive platform. Whitmer is the former Senate minority leader who has the endorsement of all major unions, and has made up most of her funding through small donations.
I don’t often make a pitch that a state election can save democracy, but in this case, I mean it to save the very term — literally.
Please review and offer assistance:
Sign Change.org petition against the new standards.