Readers: some of the dialogue in this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020). Entries addressing events in the the future assume there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution. More about the Revenge Revolution, a list of earlier revolutions and the author, Entry #1.

Periodically I write a “sense check” to assess whether in the next few years, a revolution in the US is still possible or whether the entire exercise is based on a statistical aberration — i.e., a roughly 50-year cycle between major upheavals in the US.  Most recent sense check, ENTRY #387.  

Some of the entries are part of a series.  Several series are available as easy-to-read booklets for download:

Prelude to the current series of entries: I’ve concluded Trump is a lunatic and the administration filled with lapdogs save a couple of people at CDC.  Instead of wasting time commenting on actions by Trump, I thought it more productive to begin discussing what happens in the US once the coronavirus is more under control.  #378 began the series. At this point not sure how many entries.  Comments and suggestions welcome.

ENTRY #396: In Entry #395 and in the booklet titled “Technology Tsunami,” I outlined why the US needs a more in-depth and broadly available public education system.  My rationale was for the US to remain competitive worldwide, the workforce needed to prepare to use ever advancing technology. 

However, the US may be faced with two fundamental problems.  The second problem became increasingly apparent with the 2020 presidential election.  The problem is cognitive dissonance in an alarmingly high portion of the US population.  The cognitive dissonance seems to exist even among allegedly educated people.  The people in question cannot seem to connect two dots, let alone three.

While there has always been some portion of the population that suffers from cognitive dissonance – Lincoln’s famous quote, “You can fool some of the people all the time…” – and Lincoln’s quote applies to some portion of both political parties, cognitive dissonance seems to have overtaken most in the Republican Party. 

Republicans seem unable to look at a basic set of facts and draw any logical conclusion. An example: assume there are two columns of facts.  Both columns are critical to making a logical decision.  Further the decision at hand is affected by the data in both columns. 

Yet, a huge percentage of Republicans seem to view facts in column A and facts in column B as completely separate, even though inextricably linked.  This group seems unable to look at column A and look at column B and see any need for integrating the two.

In a couple of earlier blog entries I suggested that Trump supporters seem to be brainwashed. Being brainwashed could be a plausible explanation given how some of Trump’s supporters accepted his behavior as appropriate but rejected the same behavior when exhibited by others.

The cognitive dissonance seems extreme among some self-proclaimed born-again Christians. Let’s take just a couple of the Ten Commandments, a tenet of Christianity, and Judaism, and look at Trump’s Behavior. Example #1: don’t lie.  Trump lies multiple times per hour and the rate ratcheted up during the campaign. 

Trump has the distinction of telling more lies than any other president by several orders of magnitude. And, it’s not as if these lies are hard to fact-check.  Example #2.  Don’t steal.  Like his habit of lying, Trump has managed to divert government funds to his own pocket while President, clearly in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.  The most high-profile examples of financial diversions are at the Bedminster Golf Club, Mar-a-Lago and the Trump International Hotel in Washington.

So what are those on the religious right thinking while supporting Trump?  Okay, people can be forgiven for choosing Tramp initially.  Many voters claimed not to like Hillary and considered Trump the lesser of two evils.  Any kind of research would have highlighted Trump’s pattern of behavior but let’s give the initial Trump voters a break.

But with four years of behavior that is contrary to the tenets of Christianity and virtually every other religion, why choose him again?  Did the 2nd-time Trump supporters ever ask themselves, “Would I want my spouse to act the same way as Trump?  Would I tolerate such behavior in my children?  Would I have any kind of business or personal relationship with someone who acted like Trump?”

My guess is the answer is a resounding “No!” to each question.  Yet, why did they support Trump…again? 

After I finished an initial draft of this blog, I thought, maybe education is not the issue.  Really, the issue is a breakdown in what is considered moral behavior.  Rather than education, maybe there was a breakdown in the commitment to duty, honor, country.

Then, with a bit more thought, I went back to the problem being lack of a good educational foundation.  Without a good foundation, what once was considered immoral behavior can become acceptable.  What once was considered a commitment to duty, honor, country can be twisted so those who live by such a code were labeled by Trump as “suckers.”

For all the 2nd-time Trump supporters, why don’t you take a hard look at the cemeteries at Normandy of all those “suckers” who died to save Europe and the US.  Take a look at the Vietnam wall in Washington.  Take a look at the memorial at the Trade Towers for those who died trying to save others.  After you take a hard look, ask yourself, “Why did I vote for a guy who claimed to be 4F to avoid the draft because of a bone spur in his foot?  And then couldn’t remember which foot had the bone spur.”    

The illogic of voting for Trump a second time is so overwhelming to me I cannot fathom anyone having done so.  Yet, an example is a friend on Facebook, who shall remain anonymous.  The person is college educated, overtly religious and yet was wildly enthusiastic about supporting Trump in 2020.  There seems no explanation other than cognitive dissonance.  The Facebook friend seemed unable to connect two dots, let alone three dots.  And now the FB friend is in Maslow’s second stage blaming all those “liberals” in Pennsylvania and Michigan for illegally stuffing the ballot box for Biden.    

The behavior of my FB friend is not unique.  Take behavior with respect to the coronavirus.  In the past week new cases have exceeded 100,000 per day.  Where were most of the new infections occurring? Yes, the preponderance of new infections were in counties that voted for Trump. It appears that many, if not most, of residents in those counties viewed wearing a mask as political statement.  Not wearing a mask showed one’s support for Trump. 

Folks, the benefit of wearing a mask for protection is based on science and medical evidence, not politics. You’re following advice from a guy who got his degrees in epidemiology and immunology from Trump University, aka BS University.

If we look at history, one reason America was able to separate itself from the rest of the world was by offering residents a free, quality public education.  Such an education enabled families, within one or two generations, to transition from members having a very limited education to children graduating from college. 

The system also provided a solid, well-rounded base education for high-school graduates.  My father is a perfect example.  He had to turn down a free college education to be able to continue to work to support the family during the Depression. Yet, with that high-school education he was well versed in a number of subjects.   World geography was one of his favorites. I admit, his knowledge of geography put me to shame.

He was also a crossword puzzle aficionado. His favorite and most challenging day was Thursday, when the crossword puzzle was completely blank.  The crossword had only word clues.  With all squares initially blank, you needed 3-4 correct words just to get started.  

Like many others of that generation, he was a lifelong learner.  In retirement and virtually every day until he died, he read from cover to cover “The New York Times” and the local paper. 

Fast forward to today.  How many people actually read a real newspaper? How many really understand what’s going on in the world?  How many people can connect two dots?

If a contributor to cognitive dissonance is a shortfall in education, which it appears to be, then how do we fix the problem?  The first step would seem to be that “we,” that is societal we, need to come together. We need to put away the political labels; put away the “us versus them” mentality; put away the blame game. We need to look in the mirror and ask that tough question of many religions, “Are you treating your neighbor as you want to be treated?”

In his speech 11/07/2020 following declaration of becoming president-elect, Biden took a great step forward in asking the nation to come together.  Some of us remarked the speech reminded us of an old Alka-Seltzer commercial – “Oh, what a relief it is.”  Let’s hope he and VP-elect Harris can be effective in leading the charge getting US society to start acting as one again. 

The level of difficulty facing the Biden administration could be compared to what the US faced in the 1960’s with the race to the moon.  While the challenges in the 1960’s were mostly technical, a major hurdle was convincing Congress and the American public to support what would be an extraordinarily challenging, costly and dangerous series of missions. 

JFK spoke to Congress in 1961 and then to the public in 1962 at a speech at Rice University to address the challenges.  A portion of that speech seems appropriate as inspiration for the challenge that we face in rebuilding the education system in the US. 

 “We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win…”

Read JFK’s remarks again.  More discussion about education in the next blog entry, including designating First Lady-elect as “Educator-in-Chief.”