Do you want to know what the biggest problem the Right has? It really isn’t complicated. It’s pretty simple.
Remember how George H. W. Bush called it “the vision thing,” and essentially disparaged the concept that if he was going to run for office he should have a set of goals to work toward? That was a lot bigger deal than anybody credited back then. Of course, in 1988 it wasn’t a sure thing that Bush Republicanism would be the wood standard for the GOP for 28 years, to the growing disinterest of the public and mounting disgust of the party’s own base.
Republicans let themselves be satisfied with visionless leaders while Democrats threw in with crooks and radicals.
The radicals had vision. They were the only ones. It’s said you can’t beat something with nothing, and that’s been proven true when it comes to vision.
It doesn’t matter how terribly dystopic and miserable the Left’s vision is. They have it, and they’re committed to it. What does the Right have?
Yes, I know what you’re going to say. We have our vision. It’s written in our founding documents. And of course that’s true.
But do you have a vision for protecting the society the Founders created? Because the leaders of the only party that can credibly allege they’re willing to do that certainly don’t.
We talked about the Washington Generals in the Senate and how easily they were rolled by a doddering old simpleton on that “bipartisan” infastructure plan. A week or so later you have Mitch McConnell dropping bombs on the Senate floor about the death of bipartisanship on the infrastructure issue. He’s out in the field chasing the horses the Mitt Romneys and Bill Cassidys and Lisa Murkowskis let out of the barn.
The Left wants to spend your tax dollars turning America into a socialist society, and they will use every trick they can dream up in order to do it.
This isn’t a column about national politics. It’s actually a column about education. And it’s a column about vision.
The Right has absolutely no vision at all on education, and it’s a terrible shame. Yesterday in this space we talked about the utter destruction the Left has wrought upon mainstream journalism, such that this country ranks last in the world, among 46 nations surveyed by Reuters and YouGov, in media credibility. But what the Left has done to news media is nothing compared to what they’ve done to education.
The freest-spending school districts in America generally produce the worst results. The Left has pushed not just conservatives and moderates but even garden-variety liberals out of the upper ranks of the education bureaucracy in much if not most of the country (practically all, if we’re talking about higher education) and is now substituting any semblance of classical education for hard-core indoctrination on climate change, transgender activism, and critical race theory.
Yes, there are still people out there who deny this. No, they are not simply uninformed. They’re either delusional or they’re outright liars invested in it. This includes David French and the other Useful Idiots who took to the New York Times to lecture us on the impropriety of taxpaying citizens using the public legislative process to dictate that woke garbage not be foisted on their children in institutions of public education. The idiocy of saying that’s an affront to free speech is only matched by the idiocy of trying to sell public schools as a “marketplace of ideas.” Nobody, including David French, believes that.
For a long time politicians and donors on the right have cheerily marched us to this point. State legislators and governors with Rs next to their names have shoveled good money on top of bad at an educational system that was (1) horribly obsolete and (2) fully occupied by enemies of America as founded for decades. They did it in the vain hope that with enough funding, those schools and universities would turn out hordes of middle-class, white-collar yuppies who’d join them in the suburbs and vote for country-club, Chamber of Commerce Republicans just like them. If you want, you could call that a vision, but in no way was it ever going to work out that way because they never took into account who was catching that funding.
Things didn’t really get better once the donor class and the politicians realized, after exploding the budgets of school systems across America, that money didn’t halt the decline. At that point there was a glimmer of a vision; you saw rich Republican donors throwing money into things like charter schools and vouchers.
Which is a really nice idea. Seriously, it is. But the efforts to bring it to life have been so tepid and cautious as to waste everyone’s time.
Over the weekend I had a conversation with a friend that turned to subjects political. My friend said, “Remember when everybody was talking about school choice? It was like 10 years ago. Nobody really talks about it anymore. Why is that?”
Good question. The answer is that movement petered out in most of the country. Why? First, because school choice is aimed at making things better for poor people in urban areas. And here’s a dirty little secret — poor people in urban areas can’t be helped by public policy. In fact, it’s generally an absence of public policy that is the only thing that can help bring them out of poverty.
The vision, such as it was, of school choice was that vouchers would capitalize all the black churches in cities like Flint and Atlanta and East St. Louis to start up little Christian schools where parents who actually cared about their kids would take them out of failing urban government schools and put them in Missionary Baptist Academy or the AME Excellence Institute or whatever.
That vision was never really that those parents would be able to send their kids to the hifalutin’ private schools the donor class sends their kids to. Not unless they were tokens or budding big-time athletes who could help the Wildcats or the Patriots win a state title.
And nobody was interested in school choice for prosperous parents in the suburbs. After all, you paid a lot of money for not a lot of house to live in a “great” school district, and to think you’d pay property taxes this high and not take advantage of that “great” school your kids go to is crazy, right? Vouchers are for those poors in the city you moved out of when you got married.
This represents the last 15 years of Republican and conservative education policy.
Forcing conservatives back into those institutions? Getting aggressive with activism and lawfare to break the Left’s hold on curriculum and childhood development? Not even. The villains in charge of those “great” public schools started with zero-tolerance policies that made criminals out of kids making imaginary guns out of Pop-Tarts and quickly progressed to gay advocacy in the schools and widespread medication to drain out the energy of the kids who wouldn’t conform.
Nobody got mad about it at all. And the school choice movement created a bunch of charter schools that are run exactly the same as the run-of-the-mill government hellholes they replaced.
So now it’s critical race theory, and finally people are pissed off. Why? Because after decades of neglect the Right has finally woken up to the fact the Left has zero limiting principle in their aggressions and will go so far as to scold white suburban kids that their skin color makes them the Other and that they must hate themselves as a result.
It’s so terrible that white suburban girls who come from prosperity and privilege are desperately searching for some sexual deviancy they can claim. Take New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s youngest daughter, Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, who just came out as “demisexual,” which is most definitely not a thing. If you’re “demisexual” it means you only have a sexual attraction to people you have an emotional attachment to. Which is 75 percent of every female in the world. She’s straight, but she doesn’t think that’s good enough, and if you think that didn’t come from woke leftists in some school filling her head with garbage you aren’t paying attention.
All of which is taking far too long to say that if the Right really wants to fix this, it’s going to have to make a vision on public education. It’s going to have to stop playing Washington Generals. Randi Weingarten, the predatory Medusa who runs the American Federation of Teachers, just announced it’s that union’s national policy to foist as much critical race theory on your kids as possible.
It’s war. It’s time to play dirty.
In this space we mentioned that it’s time to unionize the public school parents. We didn’t mention that it’s been done, sort of. There is a thing called the National Parents Union (NPU), which made its debut to some publicity last January and was subsequently wiped from public consciousness by COVID.
But the National Parents Union is funded largely by the Waltons of Walmart fame, and it’s aimed at the same poor people in urban school districts the school choice movement was aimed at. Naturally it hasn’t managed much headway, because those poor people are never at the vanguard of social change. They don’t have the resources or the energy to do those things, and what’s more, they aren’t going to buy into something that is funded by the Walmart people.
Is the NPU pushing the destruction of public education the way the SEIU is pushing the destruction of capitalism? No. Then why bother?
If you want to do this right, get a vision. And your vision should be that there is no such thing as a public education system. There would be the actual marketplace of ideas French says he wants, and people can choose to educate their kids the way they damn well please in the knowledge that certain basics (English, basic math, real civics, for example) are non-negotiable regardless of the delivery system.
Once you agree on that, then go find the people who not only want that but know they’re capable of creating it for themselves. In other words, stop wasting your time trying to unionize the poor parents. If they want to join, great, but they’re not the people you want.
Go get the suburbanites. Go get the wine moms who voted for Biden because of Trump’s mean tweets and tell them they’re unionizing to insure their kids aren’t poisoned with CRT or that they aren’t called in to find out their fourth-grader is “transitioning” and that they’ll have to put off the European vacation and the new car in order to set money aside for puberty blockers and sexual reassignment counseling. Those women may not be conservatives, but they’re certainly more persuadable than the urban Democrats the Right’s donors think will magically turn into Milton Friedmans over school choice.
James Carville is running around warning Democrats that “wokeness is a problem.” Those women are the ones he’s worried about. Go and organize them, and sic them on the entry-level politicians and wacko radical bureaucrats in these school systems. It isn’t just critical race theory, it’s crappy Michelle Obama school lunches. It’s indifference to the little hellions who bully their classmates and disrupt the learning environments. It’s having to get up at 5:30 every morning to get the kids to school on time. It’s every indignity, time-suck, and downward spiral these overpaid, woke incompetents foist on American parents, which they’re forced to accept because there’s no other game in town.
If you want to win on education, hire rabble-rousers and go radicalize the suburbanites into the idea that these “great” schools aren’t even good, that they actually suck, and that they’re not worth paying for, and that the whole thing ought to be broken apart and rebuilt to satisfy the customer, which is them. Get them thinking about how they’d like to be able to bring Junior to school when their schedule allows and not have to waste half the afternoon in a pickup line terrified of what fresh horror Junior is being taught today at his “great” school.
Do it right, and do it long enough, and then one day we’ll see those vouchers and charter schools as the pitiful baby steps they actually are.
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