Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Does It Deserve Majority Status?

The Republican party that is. Consider Pennsylvania, where the GOP has control of the Governor's mansion and both branches of the legislature. From today's WSJ, Gov. Tom Corbett (R-PA, pictured) rightfully called education reform the "civil rights issue of the 21st century." Both Dean and I have despaired of the GOP doing anything about this issue, even though it could be part of an agenda that reaches out to minority voters. Throughout the nation, efforts to give children in failed schools have been led by blacks and Hispanics, whom I presume were Democrats. Getting serious about this issue shows you seriously understand a top concern of minority voters. (As opposed to professional minority exploiters like the NAACP, who oppose school choice.)

Back to Pennsylvania, where a bill to offer school choice to children of failing schools is languishing in the legislature. There is plenty of finger pointing about who is at fault, but in the end, voters will only know that Republicans failed to deliver for minorities. Unfortunately, the New York Times is reporting that there are divisions within the Tea Party movement over the bill. Dick Armey's FreedomWorks, which has done good work, put some pressure on the House Speaker Mike Turzai to push through the bill. He resented the pressure, of course. Here is what the NYT is reporting, although I am not sure I trust their veracity:

Instead, the bill, which would provide vouchers to poor families who want better schools for their children, has sparked what one Tea Party activist called a “fight within the family.”

Many Tea Party groups oppose the bill because it does not establish universal school choice, and call it a bailout of failing schools. They accuse those who support it — who are backed by a powerful Washington group that has helped cultivate the Tea Party — of selling out to the kind of politics-as-usual approach that the movement was founded to oppose. Supporters say those opponents do not understand that compromise is part of politics.

My reaction: Of course it doesn't provide universal choice. You're not going to get a Democrat co-sponsor of the bill with that approach. Universal choice would be great, but denying the children in the worst schools an avenue of escape misses the opportunity to change the political dynamic. How are you going to build a new majority coalition with an attitude like that? The political calculus for the socialist wing of the Democrat party is pretty bad right now. Pealing off a few percent of black and Hispanic voters will wreak havoc with its electoral chances and drive it back towards the center of American politics and away from the path of socialism it is now on. It is in the best interests of the country that racial minorities be well represented in both parties. Time for Republicans to do something about that.

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