Blame the man in Kansas?
This no-win situation in which we find ourselves in has been plaguing us since the mid-'70's when the then "new" right got between a good early-childhood education bill and actual passage. It all came down to misinformation and ignorance -- same misinformation and ignorance the right are still using against their country 35 years later.
Here's Gail Collins writing in the Times about early childhood education, a topic that deeply upsets many on the far right. Like, hey, what're we trying to do? Feed our kids pro-gubment propaganda?
After Gerald Ford became president, the early childhood education bill’s supporters tried to resurrect the plan. They had hardly done anything besides agree that they probably ought to wait until after the 1976 election, when they were hit with a political tsunami. Members of Congress started getting hundreds and hundreds — sometimes thousands and thousands — of hysterical letters accusing them of plotting to destroy the American family.
This was before constituent e-mail, when that kind of outpouring was shocking, particularly since a number of the writers seemed to believe that Congress was plotting to allow children to organize labor unions and sue their parents for making them do chores.
“That was really the beginning of the Tea Party. The right wing started to turn on this thing viciously,” said Mondale. “They said it was a socialist scheme. They were really pounding the members of Congress and a lot of people got cold feet.”
Nobody really knew where it was all coming from. ...Gail Collins, NYT
Look to the rural heartland. These soils out here produce the damndest things. And out here we've got plenty of wind to carry the seeds, like killer viruses, from sea to shining sea. They dissed early childhood education and with it a fair deal for all families. Where did they get this stuff?
... A reporter for The Houston Chronicle traced the hysteria back to a man in Kansas who had written the leaflet, based on information he’d received from a revival in Missouri, which he told the reporter he had since learned was almost all completely wrong. ...Gail Collins, NYT
Somehow, 35 years later, that almost-all-completely-wrong man in Kansas is still there; the crazies on the right are still picking up misinformation because it confirms their prejudices; and the wind has never stopped blowing lies in all directions. That's how America finds itself sinking on all the lists that measure prosperity, progress, justice, education, and plain old-fashioned decency. That's how we -- almost all of us! -- are building lives and voting for candidates based on information from a revivalist in Missouri that we've seen in a leaflet that's almost all completely wrong.