December 27's Washington Post had this op-ed piece about how the No Child Left Behind legislation championed by C+ student George W. Bush has had a big impact on the education of the other student that ends up left behind. Or at least left waiting for everyone else to catch up. The gifted student.

I was identified as a gifted student in elementary school and went through the 'gifted' track (as much as it existed) all through school. Elementary school was fine. I had good teachers who could make things interesting for students at any level. I never really studied. Well, I studied for my spelling tests. I hated spelling. I still do. I still spell check every one of these posts before posting it. Invariably, I've misspelled at least five to ten words in each one.

Middle School was worse. Most of my classes were grouped by ability, so I stayed engaged even if I still didn't do the homework. The ones that weren't were terrible. I'd just sit there, waiting. My notebooks were full of doodles and sketches, never notes. I never took notes. I still don't.

High school was finally challenging. AP and honors courses were wonderful. I figured college would be better, but I found that the discussion in my gen-ed classes was no better (and sometimes worse) than the discussion in my High School AP classes. My major, however, was great.

Enough about me.

The point here is that there is a strong anti-intellectual streak in today's Republican 'base' voter. They decry liberals as 'elites' based on a what they see in Harvard and Southern Cal. They think they know more about science than scientists who have spent 10 years getting an education, then 20 to 30 more years doing research in their field. They see no benefit in art. They're proud to be 'good ol' boys.'

It's so bad that even the consistently conservative editors at the Wall Street Journal have noticed. And they're not too happy about it. In this article, Jeffrey Hart has left these choice quotes for me to cherry pick:

"The most recent change occurred in 1964, when its center of gravity shifted to the South and the Sunbelt, now the solid base of "Republicanism." The consequences of that profound shift are evident, especially with respect to prudence, education, intellect and high culture."

"The Conservative Mind is a work in progress. Its deviations and lunges to ideology and utopianism have been self-corrected by prudence, reserved judgment as an operative principle, a healthy practical skepticism and the requirement of historical knowledge as a guide to prudent policy. Without a deep knowledge of history, policy analysis is feckless."

"It is not enough for conservatives to repeat formulae or party-line positions. The mind must possess the process that leads to conservative decisions. As a guide, the books, and the results of experience, may be the more difficult way--much more difficult in a given moment than pre-cooked dogma, which is always irresistible to the uneducated. Learning guards against having to reinvent the wheel in political theory from one generation to the next."

Not a ringing endorsement of a liberal world view, but a stinging observations about how intellectually lazy the 'base' of the right has become none the less.

The leaders on the right, of course, know their base and feed them the 'red meat' issues in rationed amounts to keep the base voting for them. The problem is that like any other group working (voting) for a much smaller group that grabs bigger rewards, the Republican 'base' demands every increasing appeasement to keep them happy.

The corporate princes who actually run the GOP actually like science, education, world renowned universities, genetic engineering, and all the advancements that go along with them. They're money makers. Unless educated people are making advances (read 'new products/services') the money dries up. Example: The GOP base hates evolution. The idea that they are descended from monkeys is abhorrent to them. (Plus it disagrees with an allegory they mistook for literal truth.) The elite in the conservative movement, however, don't really want evolution removed from science classrooms. All modern biology including $35.9 BILLION dollar per year pharmacology is based evolution. Yeah, their base wants that removed from our education system.

The same rule applies to the increasing theocratic nature of the Republican Party. The more Jerry Falwell becomes a leader of the 'right' the more our corpratists get worried. Think about the nations in the world under theocracies. How many have robust economies? Exactly.

This diary has rambled a bit but I'll get to the point. The conservative movement is increasingly beholden to a 'base' that doesn't know much about the world. This, by itself, isn't bad. The problem is that the same base doesn't want to know. For them it's a badge of honor not to know. "REAL AMERICANS are plain folk that don't worry about that kinda stuff." The 'base' doesn't even like people who do know. "They're elitists. They think they're so smart, telling us what to do." This rising anti-intellectualism is very dangerous, especially as we enter the 'knowledge based economy' of the 21st century.

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