The Pain of Low Standards

“The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves [sic]” – Ray Kroc

Yesterday we touched on the subject of false praise in education, and how it has led to lower performance. Along similar lines, we found a video over at Real Clear Politics where Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) admits that president Obama would be pushed harder on black unemployment if he were white. It’s a short, amusing video.

While I obviously disagree with Emanuel Cleaver that the president is the right leverage point to press the issue of job creation (Congress  has the main impetus in job-destroying legislation), I find it refreshing that he and his ilk admit they hold Obama to a lower standard than they would a white (or, perish the thought, Republican) president. One can only imagine the demonstrations if unemployment amongst black men stood near 20% under George W. Bush. (And the never-ending charges of “racism”)

My point here is not to dig on the president – he has plenty of detractors. I bring it up simply to note that low standards don’t do a person any favors. It only props you up for the short term, but it allows your mind, or focus, or effort, or ideals to grow weak and lazy, giving you far less long term success.

Obviously this applies to education, as we noted yesterday in Empty Praise Comes Up Short. We often see it politically in the thought processes of red-state Republicans and blue-state Democrats. If you are surrounded by people who think like you, the “bar” for acceptance or entry into the conversation is set very low. You don’t have to work through the ramifications of your political preferences and defend them against legitimate attack.

As a side note, conservatives are fond of complaining about the liberal “state-run media” that gives liberals a pass at ever turn (except Fox news of course, which goes in quite a different direction … that’s not an endorsement, by the way). While such nonsense clearly exists (for anyone paying attention), and can have some short-term implications that are helpful to liberals, the long term impact is the same as any low standard. When you are allowed to “skate” in the middle of nonsense, you have no impetus to change or improve.

Remember that the next time you  see somebody being held to a completely different (and much lower) standard than you. No, it’s not fair. But in the grander scheme, they are the ones suffering from the lower standard, and nobody gets a pass forever.

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