I’m a substance for buildings or clothing when made;
I’m a college-bound student who should make the grade;
I’m the girl of Madonna who wants to get paid;
And the relevant facts when court cases are weighed.
Who am I?
UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.
President Trump, I want to start by being straight with you. I didn’t vote for you, and was not happy to see you win. But I do acknowledge that you won fair and square, and that you are the legitimate president. And I really do want America to win on your watch, so we’re on the same team now. And that’s why I want to tell you how you can go down in history as the greatest president that anyone has ever seen. A lot of people tell me that you have a very good brain, so I know you will see the wisdom in what I’m about to tell you. You, and you alone, can reform the healthcare system. Big League.
Recently, you observed that “Nobody knew health care could be so complicated.” How true that is. Health care is complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. You have said you would replace ObamaCare with “something terrific.” You have promised your plan would “cover everybody.” That plan has a name, Mr. President. It’s called single payer.
This is something President Obama would have loved to have put his name on, but he couldn’t get it done. He couldn’t even get a public option passed, with both houses of Congress on his side. Hillary Clinton would have supported single payer, but she said in the Democratic primaries that she would not have fought for it. Bernie Sanders would have fought for it and lost. There is only one president who could make this happen, and he won the election. It’s President Donald J. Trump. You.
If you decided to come out in favor of single payer, your core supporters would rally around it. They’ve demonstrated many, many times that they don’t care about actual policy positions or traditional Republican values. They only care about winning. They’d do it just to help you embarrass President Obama. All you’d have to do is tweet “Obamacare is a total disaster! We need to repeal it IMMEDIATELY and replace it with single payer,” and you’d add 30% of the population to its support.
Liberals like me care more about policy than personality, that I can tell you. If you went for single payer, it would drive us crazy. We’d have to support you, or we’d be hypocrites forever. We’d have to talk about how President Trump saved the country. When you withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we filled Twitter with grudging praise for you. We couldn’t help it. If you did this, we’d be falling all over ourselves. It would be unbelievable. Liberals would be lining up for repeal and replace.
And when single payer did go into effect, it would be so beautiful. Everyone would be covered. Single payer will bring costs down, too. Politicians don’t understand how to do that. That’s why people voted for a smart businessman to run things for a while. You need to step in and show them. The American healthcare system would be so popular it would make your head spin. They’d call it TrumpCare and talk about how much better it was than loser ObamaCare. The question of who was the better president will have been settled once and for all. Who made single payer happen? It was President Trump.
And the best part is: you already favor this. We know you do. You couldn’t say so during the election. You had a primary to win. Everyone understands that. And pivoting in the general would have shown weakness. But you’re the president now, and you get to make the decisions based on what you believe, not what you might have said or not said while campaigning. As for the people who voted for you based on those positions, they will be the ones that will most benefit from single payer. Believe me. Some people will think it’s unfair that we have a program that helps Donald Trump’s supporters, but you represent the people, not the politicians.
Paul Ryan will be one of the people who will fight you on this. But Paul Ryan never supported you, even after you won the Republican primary. Quite frankly, he was rather disrespectful. I could say something right now, but I won’t. And Ryan is not alone. A lot of career politician Republicans won’t like this. But they are not the president. You are. And between your loyal supporters and the liberals who are already on board, the popular support for this bill will be tremendous. They won’t have any choice but to bend to your will.
That’s the respect you deserve to have, Mr. President. It’s time for you to take it.
You cannot cross my bridge ‘till I say it’s all right;
I post comments online with intent to incite;
To trail lines from a boat and then hope for a bite;
And a popular doll with my hair half my height!
Who am I?
UPDATE: Riddle solved by Asher. See comments for answer.
A Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill into the Arkansas State Legislature to ban the works of Howard Zinn in school curricula and course materials. This is just the latest of a long string of incidents of conservatives trying to change how history is taught, sometimes successfully. In order to evaluate the potential impact of such efforts, we should take a moment to consider what we believe is the purpose of our emerging citizens studying history in school. Is it to teach them how to critically evaluate historical events so they can use that knowledge to interpret current events and build a better world? Or is to infuse them with a love of their country and a proud understanding of American exceptionalism? Both of those choices sound pretty good to me, but as they are often in conflict with one another, it is incumbent on us to choose only one of them as a touchstone for making decisions about curricula and instruction. And here we find the fundamental disagreement between the left and the right when it comes to teaching history.
Conservatives pride themselves as being free thinkers, but if you examine their ideology, you’ll find that a great deal of it is based in a slavish deference to authority. The Bible says homosexuality is wrong. The framers wanted us to have unlimited access to guns. A cop shot a kid? The kid must have been asking for it. Always trust the invisible hand of the free market. Jesus, Take the Wheel. And so on. For the past eight years, this suspension of free will to the sovereign did not extend to our Democratic president, but in the past few months, conservatives have rediscovered their obedience to the chief executive. Under this ideology, we don’t want citizens to question the authority of the state; we just want them to love Big Brother. Lest you think I’m exaggerating out of some kind of misguided partisan zeal, I present this 2014 clip from Fox News about this same social studies debate, followed by a commentary by Gretchen Carlson where she clearly articulates this mindset:
If, as Phil Graham suggested, the news is the first draft of history, then Fox News is the first draft of Republican history. Carlson’s approach to teaching social studies mirrors pretty accurately the network’s approach to journalism. Facts take a backseat to spin, and point of view reigns supreme over truth. Check out this clip, also from 2014, about a then-new report on torture. Nobody in this clip denies the truth of the report; they just don’t think we should be talking about it. Andrea Tantaros is particularly bothered by the fact that the report highlights “how we’re not awesome.” Really:
The Republican sense of entitlement to create the news, as well as history, is nothing new. In a 2004 New York Times Magazine article, “Faith, Certainty, and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” Ron Suskind quotes an unnamed senior advisor to President Bush, now widely believed to be Karl Rove:
The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”
Remember how Republicans screamed about President Obama giving a back-to-school address to children? Yet, when they’re in power, they have no problem asserting the right to define reality like the most oppressive regimes around the world. President Trump started doing this right out of the gate. He reserves the right to tweet out some absurd nonsense – like the idea that millions of illegal voters came out to vote for Hillary Clinton, thus denying him the popular vote – and to demand that it be taken as unquestionable fact. Take a look at Sean Spicer’s first stint as White House Press Secretary, clearly sent out by the boss to insist that the inauguration attendance numbers were not what they were:
This explains why Republicans have such a terrible relationship with science. Science is all about asking questions and overthrowing the establishment when the facts justify it. We don’t believe in evolution and global climate change because they support our political interests; we believe in them because of the overwhelming evidence in their favor. The Republican power structure wants to dictate what’s true and what’s not. But science doesn’t work that way, and neither does history… unless we allow them to.
That’s why it’s so important to speak out now about the changes they want to make to the way history is taught in Arkansas, and around the country. Zinn would have been the first to admit that history has a point of view, and his history in particular. But nobody is questioning the validity of Zinn’s research, only the perspective he chooses to take. It doesn’t fit in with the conservative view of patriotism, which is an unwavering insistence on American superiority and infallibility. But I would argue that Zinn’s writings are very patriotic; he just chooses to celebrate a different aspect of American history. He highlights how groups of people have come together throughout history to resist the power structure and effect change. No wonder they want him banned.
It’s important for students to have exposure to the truths of American history, even the unpleasant ones. You can’t understand the facts about society today without an understanding of how we got here. You can’t have an opinion about Standing Rock without knowing about the genocide of the Native Americans and their subsequently troubled history. You can’t intelligently discuss Black Lives Matter without an understanding of slavery and the civil rights movement. You can’t truly contextualize the treatment of Muslims in America post-9/11 without an understanding of how the Japanese internment camps came about and were later judged. The most unpleasant moments of history turn out to be our most teachable moments. We can still love America, warts and all, by celebrating, as Zinn does, our potential for growth and change. What a low opinion of America it must take to believe that students won’t love it if they have all of the information. So when administration officials, such as Ben Carson or Betsy DeVos, make statements that demonstrate a shocking misunderstanding of American history, it may be less about their ignorance and more about their arrogance. But Anderson Cooper demonstrates the dangers of allowing conservatives to just make up the version of history they want to present:
I do realize that I’m taking a very partisan tone in an essay that’s supposed to be about how to best teach history. But I really do see this as a partisan battle, and even more so now that we have a president who not only creates his own reality space, but seems to be taking about a third of the country along with him. Teaching critical thinking in social studies has never been more important. Ignorance breeds hate, and hate is a powerful weapon in dividing us. One side is trying to start a dialogue; the other side is trying to shut it down. We have to teach students how to question authority, how to find credible information about the issues, and how to make their voices heard in a way that matters. This does not mean liberal indoctrination. I’m perfectly happy to support my students in researching and debating the conservative side of the issues. Reasonable people can disagree, and classroom debates should mirror the real discussions happening across the country. But if your opinions aren’t informed by historical perspective and you only react based on your emotions and prejudices, then I’m not really all that interested in debating you.
Without a clear understanding of the past, you cannot fully comprehend the present or work to build a better future.