Photo from GPhilly
I was a classroom teacher a long time ago. I left that field, convinced that the stress of teaching was going to kill me someday. I’m glad that I tried my hand at teaching, but even more glad that I went to do something else.
I was a history teacher, and history has always been one of my favorite things. But there was one thing that bugged me about it. Historians as a group always wanted to capitalize things in print: The Great Depression, The New Deal, The Civil Rights Movement, and so on. I realize the intent was to make these things seem important, but it’s possible to overdo it, too. The Watergate Era or The War on Terror look OK when they’re the title of a book, but as just a few words on a page the capitalizing seems silly to me. I called the belief in using unnecessary capital letters Capitalism, at least in a historical sense.
Capitalizing something in the hopes of giving it Importance is not a new idea. And it’s an old trick that perhaps my least favorite politician, Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, has tried out with a recent speech he gave to the American Enterprise Institute, a right wing think tank filled with people I would want nothing to do with. In accepting an award of some kind recently, Ryan referred, again and again, to the American Idea. And it was capitalized each and every time in his prepared remarks. That term will be coming soon to a presidential campaign, I’m sure.
It’s not that there isn’t an American idea of some kind. I’m certain that there is, actually. But to capitalize the term, in the hope of turning it into a buzzword of some kind, is about as arrogant a move as I’ve ever seen. And anyone who falls for it deserves what they get from this guy. He’s clearly up to no good, when it comes to dismantling the social safety net in this country.
I haven’t been political since the last presidential election here, but there’s going to be a mad rush to be chosen as the Republican who will get crushed by Hillary Clinton in 2016. And since Ryan’s in the mix of that group, I think we’ll see that term come back again down the road. And when it does, I’ll be back with some more thoughts about it. But for now, it’s enough to know that it’s out there.