January 19, 2023

Keep Your Nose

By Glenn

Old sayings are a good way to remind us not to do stupid things.  For example, I’ve often heard, “Don’t cut your nose off to spite your face.”  This phrase warns us against acts of self-harm.  We often act out of anger and end up hurting ourselves.

For the last sixty years conservative politicians and media have cultivated anger to motivate their voters.   The United States as a whole has moved in a progressive direction, improving the lives of most Americans.

The New Deal provided workers with jobs and unemployment insurance.  The Civil Rights Movement provided women and minorities protections from abusive relationships. Public Schools and universities created equal opportunities.  Federal programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid improved the quality of life for American Seniors.

Conservatives have three lines of attack on this progress. Government programs make people lazy.  Government programs reward bad people.  Government programs are too costly. 

Unsurprisingly, these attacks have done little to hurt seniors directly.  Seniors vote regularly to protect themselves.  They are not going to cut off their nose to spite their face.

Unfortunately, the conservative fear tactics have divided and conquered other voting groups.  Those divisions have generated enough to roll back some of the progress in Civil and Voting Rights as well as public universities.

The Hollywood actor who played the role of a conservative politician, Ronald Reagan, helped advance his career by attacking college students.  He exploited the stereotype of student using drugs, having sex and protesting the Vietnam War.  These attacks eventually paid off as both the federal government and states cut funding for college education.

The result was predictable.  Wealthy families continued to pay for the children’s education.  Middle and working-class families struggle to keep up, contributing to the student loan crisis today.

This experience should be a cautionary tale.  In Texas conservative politicians like Greg Abbott and Dan Patrick are following in Reagan’s footsteps.  They, however, have moved beyond higher education and are demonizing public education. 

Abbot and Patrick make up scary stories about the LBGTQ and minorities communities to sell a school voucher program.  Vouchers would funnel money out of public schools to private schools.  Like cuts to higher education funding, middle and working class families would be left holding the bills.

America has a beautiful inclusive face.  Our democracy may have been an ugly duckling but it is progressing into a beautiful swan.  Conservatives want us to hate our nose. We shouldn’t cut it off to spite our face.

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