The problem with State of the Union addresses — or “speeches to a joint session of Congress,” which is the same thing — is that they are always dull and pointless and forgotten by everyone 35 minutes after they conclude. They make no difference, leave no lasting mark, and achieve nothing. It is an occasion for our political elites to engage in empty, self-congratulatory pageantry, sort of like the Oscars but for presidents. Not incidentally, they also tend to be as boring as the Oscars and to generate about the same level of viewer enthusiasm — enthusiasm which hovers somewhere in between dazed, confused, and catatonic.
Credit where it’s due, Biden’s speech did at least manage to up the ante and be even more grotesque and depressing than the average speech of this sort. Last night, Biden delivered his address to a half-empty room of socially distanced, fully vaccinated politicians in masks. It all looked quite creepy and dystopian, like a masquerade ball from hell. If congressional Republicans had any sense or backbone, they would have refused to participate in the farce. Instead they sat there, masked and obedient, clapping on cue.
The speech itself was lengthy and drawn out, but also moved quickly from one topic to the next in a mostly disjointed fashion. Biden kicked things off by claiming that the January 6 riot was the worst attack on our democracy since the Civil War. Some might say that 9/11 was at least slightly worse than a crowd of people briefly breaching the Capitol. In one case, 3,000 people were slaughtered. In the other, the only person directly killed in the melee was one of the people in the crowd, who was shot dead while unarmed by a still unnamed Capitol Police officer. Indeed, some might say that there have been countless attacks and tragedies between 1865 and 2021 that were far worse in scope, scale, and body count than January 6. But Biden’s speech was based in a reality that is not the one we all live in. Speaking of which, he also pledged to cure cancer and promised to devote trillions of dollars to an infinite array of programs and causes. This is not a serious man, it was not a serious speech, though his agenda (or the agenda of his handlers) does pose a serious threat.
But the most frightening part of Biden’s rambling, half-whispered diatribe, came at the very beginning when he unveiled his $1.8 trillion “American Families Plan,” which is supposed to guarantee paid leave, free community college, free daycare, and free backrubs for every man, woman, and child in the country. It also includes an item long on the leftist wish list: universal pre-school. Here is how Biden pitched that element of the plan:
12 years is no longer enough today to compete in the 21st Century. That’s why the American Families Plan guarantees four additional years of public education for every person in America – starting as early as we can. We add two years of universal high-quality pre-school for every 3- and 4- year-old in America. The research shows that when a young child goes to school—not day care—they are far more likely to graduate from high school and go on to college. And then we add two years of free community college.
In fact, as publications from The Atlantic to the Washington Post to the Heritage Foundation have all argued, universal preschool does not live up to the promises that Biden makes for it. In the long run, studies show that “free or subsidized preschool may worsen behavioral and emotional outcomes.” But the real problem is deeper and more fundamental than that.
Biden says that if we get children into the government education system starting at the age of three, they will be better able to “compete,” and their prospects of going to college will improve. This is an idea rooted in a materialistic, utilitarian view of the human person. People are not people so much as cogs to be molded into the correct shape and fit into their appointed place in the machine. The strategy doesn’t even really achieve that desired end, but that’s almost beside the point.
What sort of parent is worried about their 3-year-old “competing”? My youngest son is 4 and I have never once given even a moment’s thought to whether I am currently equipping him with all of the tools he needs to compete in the global marketplace. He’s a child. His job now is to be a child. My job is to see to his basic needs while attending also to his moral, spiritual, and emotional formation. At no point have I considered what his college application might look like, or how his professional resume is coming together. I am concerned with teaching him things, but for children at his age — “preschool age,” as we call it now — the best way for them to learn is not by sitting in a classroom but by playing and exploring. It is harmful to a child’s development to place competitive pressure on them too early. Young children should feel only the mild pressure to clean up their toys and finish their broccoli. They shouldn’t be thinking about their future SAT scores.
Then again, I am approaching this from the standpoint of a parent. I love my children and want them to be happy and grow into good and well-adjusted human beings. The government, for all its Nanny State talk, does not love my children or yours and does not care about any child’s spiritual and moral growth, emotional development, or anything else. The government sees your child as property to be owned and used. Its objective is to ensure that your child adopts the “correct” values and viewpoints, and ultimately becomes the sort of person that it wants and needs him to be. That objective is better served and can more effectively be fulfilled if children are sent into its clutches at the youngest possible age.
Kids once began school in kindergarten, then there was pre-k, then pre-pre-k, and now pre-pre-pre-k and pre-pre-pre-pre-k are being proposed. Yet the fact remains that 3 and 4-year-old children — only a few years separated from the womb — do not need to be in a formal learning environment. What is best for any child that age is to be at home. But the government is not concerned with what’s best for your child. They have their own agenda. And parents should be extremely skeptical of it.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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