It is fair to say that no primary school class of any grade level would have snubbed a Speaker of the House by boycotting a scheduled meeting with him or her ten years ago, twenty years ago or ever. That this happened last week is worth paying heed to, and worthy of careful consideration. It is another symptom of a seriously ill culture, society and democracy.
Half of the D.C. field-tripping 8th grade from South Orange Middle School, about a hundred students, rejected their photo op with Speaker Paul Ryan, and were allowed to wait in the parking lot while Ryan greeted the other half.
What’s going on here?
What’s going on here should be easy to diagnose. The vicious, anti-democratic partyism, partisan incivility and hatred that has poisoned public and private discourse that has moved the United States toward governmental paralysis and the worst societal division since the Civil War is being passed on to the next generation. Anyone who cheers this as a positive development is a lousy, unethical citizen. It’s that simple.
The snub is 100% the product of irresponsible and ignorant parents, aided and abetted by incompetent teachers, seeded by the open warfare and excessive rhetoric of political leaders, though not, ironically enough, by Paul Ryan. Ryan has always comported himself, in this office and his previous one as an ordinary House member, by traditional statesman standards. He is polite and respectful, indeed was too much so when Joe Biden snorted, rolled his eyes, sneered and interrupted him repeatedly during the 2012 Vice-Presidential debate. Ryan is a gentleman and a professional. He has also dedicated himself to public service and the best interests of his country as he sees it, like all honest elected officials, at great personal sacrifice. As Speaker of the House, a job he did not seek but accepted because he was needed by the institution, Ryan has immense responsibility and daunting challenges. Nobody has to agree with his political views, support his initiatives, or hesitate to criticize, lobby, advocate or vote against what he does or tries to do. Every responsible and civil American, however, should respect him for serving the nation as best he can. As for children, and that is what 8th graders are, they have only one duty: be respectful to the elected leaders of their towns, states and nation. Yes, every single one of those leaders. Children have neither the standing nor the knowledge nor the wisdom to be otherwise.
Matthew Malespina, one of the grand-standing 8th graders who waited in the bus, was interviewed by ABC about why he snubbed the Speaker of the House. “It’s not just a picture,” the indoctrinated, arrogant kid told the reporter. “It’s being associated with a person who puts his party before his country.”
Gee, I wonder where he learned that empty phrase? What do you mean by this, Michael? Members of both parties belong to them because they believe their party’s governing philosophy is in the interests of the United States. Give me an example of Ryan “putting his party before his country” that doesn’t mean “if Republicans cared about the country, they’d be Democrats.”
Explain the complexities of fixing the evident flaws of Obamacare while not creating unacceptable risks to the health care system. Tell us how you would have negotiated the ethical dilemma of either supporting your party’s Presidential candidate whom you believe to be unqualified, or risking splitting your party and giving control of the government to an opposition party that you believe is pushing the nation in dangerous and untenable directions.
Go ahead, you’re 13, you know everything. What’s your plan? Tell us how you would begin fixing the crumbling infrastructure, a multi-trillion dollar task, without raising taxes to crushing levels or pushing the national debt over the brink. Tell us how the U.S. should help its poorest citizens without making them permanent government sycophants. Tell us how society can take away money earned by corporations and wealthier citizens without destroying the incentive to innovate, take risks, create jobs.
You know nothing. It’s very likely that the parents who have been programming you know nothing as well other than party-fed talking points, but at least they are adults in a democracy, and empowered to be part of government even though our broken news media and education establishment has left them below the minimal level of civic literacy for the process to work as designed.
“The point was, ‘I don’t want to be associated with him, and his policies and what he stands for,'” said Elissa Malespina, Matthew’s mother, a smug hyper-partisan fool who undoubtedly agrees with the attitude of the Georgetown professor who refused to work out in a gym that had a member whose views she found offensive. No, Elissa: a photo is a photo, not an endorsement, just like using the gym didn’t make the professor an honorary white supremacist. But I’m sure you’ve carefully discussed the competing issues of shunning, pluralism, democracy, the political advocacy system, governmental theories, Locke, Rousseau, Jefferson, Hamilton, Burke with your impressionable son, right?
Just kidding. We know what you have been doing since November is telling your child along with anyone else who would listen that Donald Trump is an illegitimate President and anyone who supports him in any way has enlisted in Evil’s Legions, which of course includes the Republican Party and Paul Ryan. Nice work.
It is not damaging enough that progressives are trying to turn the U.S into an ideologically segregated society where citizens of varying opinions can’t work and play civilly together, and where every citizen respects the leaders chosen by our elections, as they must if democracy is to function. They are determined to spread this cultural poison to the next generation before they have the ability to think for themselves.
This is what the conduct of the South Orange Middle School’s 8th grade means, and that’s what’s going on here. It is one more ugly, harmful and perhaps permanent side effect of the “resistance”—including much of the media and Democratic Party—rejecting democratic principles and institutions because they didn’t create the results the Left wanted this time.
Now that’s putting party before country.