In Texas, the Republican Party, with their staunchly anti-woman and anti-democrat policies, is so deeply entrenched that it’s hard to imagine that within my own lifetime, one of our memorable and popular governors was a democratic woman, Ann Richards. In fact, the Republican Party, itself, is not recognizable currently to what it was when I was a younger man. It has been said before, by others, but the politics of Reagan would have been far too liberal for the current crop of GOP hopefuls. Their power base, at least in the districts where they have been gerrymandered into power, has only exacerbated the worst impulses over time of those gerrymandered districts. Democracy in the modern times is constructed on the concept of bloodless, constant revolution. Political power structures shift around every few years, and reinvent themselves in new ways to meet the demands of a very demanding voting public.
Let us step away from the idea of modern politics and look at this in a larger view. Among historians, there is the notion that political power finds a balance between stability and corruption. On the one hand, the revolution is bloody and people get hurt and no one knows what will come of it; ergo, leave the devils in charge for now. On the other hand, the corruption is hideous, the powerful take too much, and opportunity and individuals are stifled by the tax of corruption upon them. In this, the violence of the revolution is almost directly proportional to the level of corruption.The French Revolution really started with the words After me, the deluge. The words Let them eat cake were not the instigator, but the avalanche getting a nice, hard push. In Russia and China, the deep, generational corruption swung from the decadent emperors to the stark, collective, peasant communism. In all three nations, revolutions begat revolutions, and once political authority stabilized, corruption crept in. The powerful became the decadent, despite all public appearances to the contrary. The longer anyone or anything remains in power, the more corrupt they become. Bribes, political favors, the forgiveness of sins, and all the wicked markers of corruption accumulate and snowball until power breaks itself in its own corruption.
In Democracy, the revolution is supposed to be bloodless. We vote them out. Currently, with the gerrymandering of districts into segregated districts, a political party has to strongly alienate its base to lose power, at a national level. Local failures will happen, and have happened, but they do not lead to the gross failure of a political entity nationally. Instead, the national level quietly continues the sort of political shenanigans and contempt for transparency that feeds into the failure of our state to function. For example, when the bailout came at the brink of collapse due to toxic mortgages, it was more politically expedient to bail out the banks instead of the homeowners. One would think that politicians would be more popular among their constituents by paying off all their mortgages and bad debts in one fell swoop. Alas, that would have been toxic to the political elite. It is symptomatic of where their actual power base happens to be. With strict gerrymandering, anyone with a pulse and the support of the national party can come to office in any particular district. The cost of campaigning is high, and the money is distributed by the political party for the particular candidate the party selects. Ergo, political power comes from the money. Ergo, the banks who provide those political moneys get the bailouts while the people get locked out of their homes and castigated for a failure to read fine print in contracts that are pages long, issued by entities with oceans of lawyers and enough money to fight anything a long time.
The student loan bubble is coming, soon. Again, it would seem obvious that the most politically-expedient thing to do in a democracy with elected officials is to pay for people’s college education. Instead, the money is loaned out for tuition to these colleges, which resemble less and less the institutions of higher learning that they are intended to be, and have become, instead, a sort of educational summer camp – a home away from home for all the things high school failed to instruct us, with all the amenities that we would want in a summer camp. If the cost is going to be so high, and we will be paying for our camp experience for so many years, it makes sense, then, that for a while we should live like the kings and queens of summer. We’re going to pay out the nose for it, whether we have lazy rivers or not.
Where does all the tuition money go? Presidents are paid in the mid-to-high six figures while adjuncts live on food stamps and hear, constantly, that there is no money in the budget for more full-time staff. Administrations have become so bloated that there is now a graduate degree specializing in academic administration, because the culture has become so deeply-entrenched and obscure from the rest of the administrative world. Advising has become a cottage industry in a world where the things students study, and the things they do in life, have separated so far from the original idea of what it meant to go to college.
College was never meant to be a job-training trudge with a direct correlation between degrees and work. It was meant to be a life training of how to be a grown-up human, with an interior life and the ability to set and achieve goals. It was meant to be the summer camp experience, where the mind and body converge into an educational community, that seeks knowledge, truth, and the right way of living. The notion of job-training in college, in fact, has driven the culture away from the original mission, and into the control of the elite power structures of the world, where captains of industry and politics step in as presidents of colleges, push the organization towards a more-perfect world for their interests. In this, they are pushing the summer camp experience, building rock climbing walls and gymnasiums and lazy rivers and juice bars and all the amenities that drive students to choose one institution over another when the student is seventeen and inexperienced about the way these things actually work. They push them through college, then, with lots of digital access all over campus, and lots of advisers pushing them along, holding their hands, guiding them gently through the harsh waters of higher learning. Professors are weakened. Grades are inflated. Adjuncts are powerless against the pressure of student evaluations. The students, themselves, are not turned into skeptical truth-seekers, for the most part. They are in job training, and learning to network, and building their peer community, only. It is summer camp, and the classroom is becoming the least-important part of the experience. One can already easily purchase papers, hire tutors, and coast through with reasonably good grades for merely showing up and turning in adequate assignments.
This has become the training ground of the indifferent public that will become voting blocs in segregated neighborhoods. The debts they experience as students will train them for mortgages even before they buy houses. They will learn that debt is good, and debt is how big purchases are made. They will learn that their credit rating is one of the most important things about their life.
These tiny influences do not individually hold up in court as evidentiary proof. That is the nature of corruption. It is the tiniest of tiny things, the butterfly fluttering its wings to cause the avalanche down the way. The gentle push of insidious influence creates a momentum that can build over time as long as no one notices it happening. Until such a time comes, when everyone notices suddenly that the idea, itself, of an institution in our society has long ago lost its meaning, and we’ve been dancing along past the music’s fade out.
Power corrupts everything. The powerful interests corrupt the traditional hotbed of revolutions in the academy, where young men once died at barricades with some noteworthy regularity. The way to prevent this powerful urge towards revolution? Debt hangs from their necks. Advisers who answer to business leaders through their business-leader presidents push against weakened academics to turn the college into a factory of blind workers. Little boxes made of ticky-tacky, and they all look the same.
Where is the revolution? When will it come?
Prediction: When the revolution comes in politics, it will also come to academia.
Prediction: When the revolution comes to academia, it will involve the student loan debt bubble.
Prediction: Political corruption will show itself by who it saves when the troubled times come. There is always a choice of where to throw the life raft in the flood. There is no way to save everyone. When the least-logical and least-simple salvation occurs, it is a symptom of the corruption.
Prediction: Democracy is not the end game of human political organization that we seem to think that it is. There will be another revolution. There will be many more to come. May they be bloodless. May they be swift.