To recap: Roughly speaking, I think we have three main political problems in this country: 1) that too many people with a megaphone talk crap; 2) that too many citizens believe crap; and 3) the ratio of crap to non-crap in the public dialogue is much too high.

These three political problems can be roughly reformulated as follows: 1) our news media are broken; 2) civic education is broken; 3) political leadership is broken.

As before, I’m not going to bother to support these contentions right now, but instead throw out unsupported assertions as to why each is true. As ever, the lists are not meant to be exhaustive: there is lots more wrong.

Today, we deal with a broken civic education, poor citizen preparation, and a civic dialogue insufficient for citizens to run a free republic.

2) Too many citizens believe crap, and civic education is broken.
a. There is too high a crap ratio in the civic dialogue, ie, the media and conversations around the water cooler (See part 1). So citizens have to go looking for accurate information and then judge what is not crap: too many loud-mouthed ignoramuses on tv, radio, in the papers and at the water cooler.
b. There is too low a non-crap ratio in the civic dialogue: finding item a. is hard because scarce. Too few people on tv, radio, in the papers and around the water cooler know what the hell they are talking about.
c. Preparation to be a citizen, both as a youth and as an adult is poor. Among other things, we need to teach civics again, so that when people go making complete shite out of the Constitution and American history on tv we know it; kids need to know the right way to deal with cops, the justice system and the law generally, and adults need reminders that don’t involve lawyers and jail time.
d. Brown v. Board was part of a transformation of American public education generally from a generally high standard for white high school kids and a generally but not universally low one for black kids into a mediocrity for everyone: separate and unequal changed into equal mush. The long and short is that the modal 21-year old in 2010 just doesn’t have as much general background and preparation for thinking generally and for citizenship specifically as the modal 21-year old in 1955. Too many citizens believe crap because of diminished means to resist it: poorer reading, writing and ‘rithmetic skills, among many other shortfalls in public education.
e. There is a ‘general malaise’ around citizenship and fellow-feeling – the “civitas” as the Romans called it – in this country. Citizens just don’t give as much of a shit about our fellow Americans or about being Americans as the World War II generation did. Citizens who feel apart from their fellow citizens don’t make good citizens. They get forgetful about what a precious thing we have here. Some of the reasons for this include:
f. The largest wave of immigration in US history even by proportion. For the first time in US history, we have lots of people from foreign countries in places in the US where they didn’t used to be. This is bound to cause some tension between natives and foreign-born over jobs. The irony is, of course, that legal immigrants get the civics class our kids don’t. The illegals have no clue, and too often learn civics from the cops or La Migra.
g. No draft  means no universal common civic experience except voting and jury duty. There is less close experience with people across class and ethnic lines in a public organization than there used to be.
h. Racism is alive. It’s much better than when I was a kid, especially in the civic arena, but it’s alive. We have a President with visibly-African ancestors though, dude. That’s progress.
i. Vietnam and deindustrialization right in a row in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s really hurt our pride as a nation. Morning in America my ass. We are feeling a little shabby generally. Working class white people feel this especially.
j. Growing income inequality keeps us apart. Duh.
k. Identity politics separates us in the civic arena. Duh.
l. Family values. They belong where they say they belong: in the family, not in the civic dialogue.

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