When we were kids in Texas, and we went to Mexico and ate something that we should not have eaten, we called the resulting diarrhea Montezuma’s revenge (people still do, of course). It has that authentic American racist feel to it, and it’s more than a little unfair to complain so cavalierly about a problem like dysentery, which is one of the scourges of poverty everywhere. Yet is also has a pointed irony, as if we recognized a kind of karma in genocide and colonialism.
The ongoing budget battles in the U.S., summarized in “State Lawmakers Seek More Say Over Colleges,” aren’t genocide, of course, but they do represent a kind of unfortunate political karma. Let’s call it Nixon’s revenge. Somehow– that somehow suggests an as yet undecipherable history– a portion of the U.S. electorate has become convinced that the only way to balance budgets is to make cuts. Since we spend so much on education, that means we have to cut there.
Yet if by “we” we mean the American people as represented by polls, then “we” don’t want these cuts. Arguably, they are in fact unnecessary, even in the most practical sense. If the “we” is the “we” that voted for the far right, though, then that “we” has given our body politic a bad case of political dysentery. Literally, a long dialog about nothing; discursive excrement. It’s Nixon’s revenge against the now grown up college kids who hated him so much.
We are being sold a bill of goods about education, to use the cliche, and we are buying it, in the same way that we were sold a bill of goods in Nixon’s “moral majority.” Or, in fact, in the same way that we have been sold things like the “pet rock.” I also don’t think it is historically inaccurate to say that only the much too tenuous power of people organized in unions is going to prevent some sort of final right wing solution to the “problem” of education.