Unlearners and the Left

Unlearners.  You have known some, surely.  Perhaps you had a co-worker who was one, or even a boss.  Maybe you have one in your family.

Unlearners are people who seem to be unable to learn from experience.  They keep on making trouble for themselves and those around them in the same way.  For example, you may have a co-worker or family member who goes from abusive relationship to abusive relationship.  You know what this person is going to do before he does, and you can also predict the bad outcomes that will surely follow and yet always seem to surprise him. 

Because you have this kind of understanding of such people's behavior, it makes sense to say that in some ways you know them better than they know themselves. Okay, but how do you know what you know about them?  What is the source of your knowing?

A quick look at what the unlearner lacks shows us the way to the answer.  Unlearners are deficient in common sense.   Our gift of common sense gives us the ability to learn from experience and to put our learning from experience to work sizing up situations and making good judgments about what to do.  If you can read the unlearner like a book, it is because your common sense has greater reach than the deficient common sense of the unlearner.

Another thing you will have noticed about the unlearners in your life is that it is easy for people to take advantage of them and difficult for you to help them avoid getting themselves into trouble in the same old way again.

"Unlearner" is a powerful analytical tool for understanding public policy today.  Take San Francisco, for example.  Once, it was America's most beautiful city.  Today, there probably should be signs posted at every point of entry that read "Visitor discretion is advised."  Or how about Detroit?  Once an economic powerhouse, now an economic basket case.  What do the two cities have in common?  Why, progressive politics.  And not just occasional bouts of progressives in office, but the special kind of Mad Hatter politics that emerges under one-party Progressive rule over time.  When progressives have been in charge of local government for long enough, they make perfectly clear what happens when progressives get their hands on the levels of governmental power.  The result is governmental metastasis and social decay.

Evidently, the progressives in local government and their progressive cronies are perfectly willing to lay waste to their own cities for their personal benefit.  Political power and access to the revenue stream that gushes through the government of even the most devastated American city is an intoxicating brew, no doubt.  And no doubt all the members of the progressive establishment in Detroit and San Francisco are taking good care of themselves.

But there is a mystery here.  There aren't enough insiders to provide sufficient votes to keep returning the progressives to power.  It is true that progressive enclaves have some remarkable voting patterns — dead people who somehow manage to vote in election after election, dedicated voters who vote more than once each election, areas that have more people voting than registered voters — but even the voting dead and those other mystery voters don't explain the progressives' continued electoral success.  Ordinary voters actually vote for progressive candidates.  As astonishing as that is, it happens.  You would think every American has all the information they need to recoil in horror at the consequences of putting progressives in positions of political power, but no.

It is a remarkable fact that there are voters who reliably vote for the most progressive candidate election after election.  Yet what the progressives will do given the opportunity is not a secret.  The consequences of electing Warren Wilhelm aka Bill de Blasio mayor of New York City or giving the Speakership to Nancy Pelosi cannot be hidden even by the combined efforts of CNN and the New York Times.  Yet there they are in office.

All this is deeply troubling.  It challenges the whole idea of self-government.  Our system is based on the assumption that voters will not vote for those whose policies will lay waste to the community, the state, the nation.  The voters who keep returning progressives to office are failing to learn from experience.  They are unlearners, at least when it comes to politics.  And there are so many of them.  How can this be? 

Once upon a time, back in the day when San Francisco and Detroit were relatively well governed, young people generally needed an indoctrination on a college campus to become a progressive political unlearner.  They may not have gotten much of an education in college, but they sure did get politically correct.  And they were able to keep up after they left college, thanks to the kind of help supplied by the New York Times, NPR, CNN, and MSNBC.  In those days, though, they were not a voting group big enough to dominate the Democrats.

Today, it is a whole new world.  Because the progressives have captured American education, now the indoctrination in K-12 is generally sufficient.  (You will no doubt recall that Barack Obama's pal Bill "Guilty as hell, free as a bird" Ayers became a professor of education after he transitioned from political activism using bombs.) High school graduates who go on to college arrive there already progressified, and well on their way to being highly accomplished political unlearners.  In a general sense, the more time spent in the education system, the more thorough the indoctrination into unlearnerdom and the greater the risk of permanent damage to common sense.

The founders understood that education was the key to the American system thriving.  Americans need to understand and also be dedicated to the American idea for the American republic to endure.  The progressives also understood that education was the key to the whole system, and, therefore, that capturing education was the key to replacing the American republic with the Progressive state.

Two conclusions follow.  First, if the progressives are allowed to maintain their control of American education, it is only a matter of time until the Republic is lost.  And in the meantime, we are in for a wild ride because there are millions of young people progressified by their teachers and professors already in the pipeline and headed toward the voting booths.

Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute.  He is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea and Reclaiming Common Sense: Finding Truth in a Post-Truth World (https://www.amazon.com/Reclaiming-Common-Sense-Finding-Post-Truth/dp/1641770740/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=), due out in September.  Both are from Encounter Books.

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