While liberal activists pursue top-down goals, such as championing progressive challengers against sitting Democratic U.S. senators or focusing too heavily on presidential campaigns, the GOP has been systematically infiltrating politics from the school board level on up. It's nowhere near as sexy to focus on state and local elections, but it's often more successful in the long run, enabling Republicans to, in many ways, have greater and more micro-targeted influence at the grassroots level.
The results, however insidious, are self-evident. Back in 2010, for example, the Texas Board of Education, controlled by conservatives, successfully changed the state's public education social studies curriculum to be more "balanced" -- in that case, "balanced" meant putting "a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light," according to The New York Times.
In other districts, conservatives are actively pushing a U.S. government textbook published by McGraw-Hill that inexplicably emphasizes the alleged influence of Moses on the Founding Fathers -- a "biblical idea of covenant" that "influenced the formation of colonial governments and contributed to our constitutional structure."
By doing so, the GOP is indoctrinating kids from their formative years on up. Smart, in an exceedingly creepy way. Liberal activists on the other hand are barely paying attention to anything beyond crowd-pleaser issues like drone strikes and NSA spying, and if they ever dig into state matters, it's often too-little-too-late. The Arkansas ban on city and county anti-discrimination laws went into effect last night with barely a peep from the progressive left.
But perhaps there's a chance for some strategic redemption in Oklahoma where liberal activists could successfully block a bill introduced by state Rep. Dan Fisher (R), House Bill 1380, that would completely eliminate advanced placement U.S. History classes, on the way to banning all A.P. classes. Worse, Fisher's legislation would replace the present history curriculum across-the-board with classes focused on 58 hand-picked documents that cover everything from the Declaration of Independence to speeches by George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan (none by recent Democratic presidents) to, yes, the Ten Commandments. That's right, another weird example of Moses crowbarred into U.S. history classes.
The bill is the culmination of efforts by a former high school teacher, Larry S. Kreiger, along with anti-Common Core activist Jane Robbins, who believe the test for being accepted into A.P. history classes presented “a consistently negative view of American history that highlights oppressors and exploiters.” (As Judd Legum pointed out, many supporters of Kreiger and the legislation mistakenly believe advanced placement courses are the same as Common Core.)
So, in other words, a realistic view of American history needs to be white-washed with patriotic cheerleading. Screw the facts. Reading a a sample test released by the College Board in response to the non-controversy, I noticed that the first three questions are religious, so you'd think that'd be a good thing among Oklahoma Republicans. The second set of questions is about migration inside the United States. Oh, but the third set of questions has to do with the historic Seneca Falls Convention and women's rights. Perhaps this is the "negative view" of the U.S. that Kreiger has been whining about -- even though there are women alive today who were born before their mothers had the right to vote in the clearly exceptional United States. After that, the test moves on the brave and the bold Founding Fathers and the Revolution. Okay. That's followed by, uh-oh, Brown v Board of Education.
Why does actual American History hate America?
Naturally, with a stacked GOP majority deck, the bill advanced out of committee, 11 votes to 4. Elsewhere, the Republican National Committee added a plank to its platform opposing advanced placement courses, while similar state-level legislation has been proposed in Colorado, Georgia and North Carolina.
Are you noticing a pattern?
George Carlin once said that it's "selfish, ignorant citizens" who give us "selfish, ignorant leaders," and it's the dumb leaders who can be easily puppeteered. This year, we're looking at two Republican presidential candidates with shaky educations. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) never graduated from college, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) lied about having graduated from Baylor. Six years ago, we watched in bemused horror as the GOP nominated a vice presidential candidate who couldn't describe the vice president's constitutional duties. We won't even go into the previous chief executive except to note that when he was asked about Native American tribal sovereignty and the relationship with the federal government, he responded, "Tribal sovereignty means just that. It's sovereign. You're a -- you're a -- you've been given sovereignty and you're viewed as a sovereign entity." Doofus citizens won't notice crap like that, so let's make more. And if we can pan-sear Bush 43 speeches, Ronald Reagan speeches and theocratic dogma into the heads of impressionable children at the same time, bonus!