Ah Spring. When A Republican’s Fancy Turns To Thoughts Of Winning Voters With School Choice

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It’s an old call made new all the time, Republicans can win a greater share of minority votes based on school choice.

Medved concludes that the Republican Party is best served by re-calibrating its approach to minority voters rather than to expend energy countering the baseless charges hurled at GOP pols that they are somehow champions of discrimination in the workplace or in favor of regulating female reproductive organs.

On Friday, National Review columnist Mona Charen identified the widening cracks in the Democratic coalition of minority voters that could presage greater tremors ahead. She cited as evidence a revolt among Asian-Americans, a key Democratic voting bloc, in California against the racial education quotas enshrined into state law by Proposition 209. Charen added that progressive icon, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio, is also in the process of putting down an insurrection among black and Hispanic supporters concerned over his administration’s decision to close a number of charter schools as a reward to the city’s resurgent teachers union. These divisions, she observed, are ripe for exploitation by the GOP.

Yes, I’m sure this will work if we just give it a chance! What’s that you say? The GOP has been pushing this idea for going on 30 years?

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13 [1985]— Education Secretary William J. Bennett today urged Congress to give low-income families vouchers worth an average of $600 a child a year so they could choose from a variety of private and public schools for their children.

In announcing a detailed legislative proposal, Mr. Bennett portrayed the Reagan Administration as an ally of poor and disadvantaged children whose parents cannot afford private schools.

”At present,” he said, ”our most affluent families do exercise choice, by buying a home in the neighborhood of their choice, or by sending their children to a private school. The poor do not now have that kind of choice.”

Well, that’s…inconvenient.

But surely there’s some indication that minority voters are disgusted with the current state of public education? It seems not.

The poll found that 60 percent of black and 64 percent of Hispanic respondents were confident the schools their children or neighborhood children attend are preparing students for college, compared with half of white respondents and 55 percent of Asian respondents.

Minority adults who didn’t earn college degrees are even more optimistic than those who did. Sixty-one percent of black and 65 percent of Hispanic respondents who didn’t graduate from college have confidence in local schools, compared with 54 percent and 49 percent, respectively, of adults who do hold college degrees.

Yes, there will be small pockets of support for school choice like we are seeing in NYC as new Mayor Bill De Blasio works to force mainly minority students back into substandard public schools. But the idea that it will translate to Republican votes is without evidence.

How has the GOP benefited politically from saving the DC school voucher plan from elimination by the Obama administration? Not at all it would seem.

At the original link, Noah Rothman argues that prison reform might be a better way for the GOP to make inroads with minority voters. There’s a very simple reason why that isn’t true…unlike the school choice issue where Democrats are locked into opposing Republicans because of teacher union support, the Democrats can enter into a bidding war with Republicans on criminal justice reform. The reason Democrats can’t move on criminal justice issues is because they are worried the GOP will paint them as soft on crime. But if the GOP gives up that law and order image the Democrats will be free to offer up all sorts of things that the even reform minded Republicans will have a tough time supporting.

Free college education for prisoners? Democrats seem to like it. How popular would that be with Republicans?

Banning employers from asking if people have been convicted of crimes on job applications? Again, Democrats are pushing it across the country. What Republican is going to sign on to it?

Conservative reformers may think they can win some points by supporting restoration of voting rights for felons but the Democrats will quickly up the ante to places Republicans can’t and won’t go.

I support Republican policy efforts on school choice because they are right things to do for children, parents and the country as a whole. I’m supportive of some criminal justice reforms for the same reason…I support good policy. But let’s not kid ourselves about the political gain the will come from them. Until there’s some evidence these issues (and with school choice there’s been plenty of time) move votes selling these changes on the basis of political gain is simply false advertising.


About Drew

I blog about politics and hockey because I sort of understand those things. I'd blog about women but I'll never understand them.

Posted on April 18, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Getting votes is not the reason for supporting this – you are right, there is nothing the GOP can do to sway minority votes, they are going to vote heavily democrat no matter what is done, so it’s time to quit chasing that pipe dream. BUT 1) school choice is a good idea on its own, and it helps fight the centralization of authority, and that’s always good to do even if it doesn’t get you many votes, AND (maybe even more importantly) the Teachers Unions hate it, because it starves the unions of money, a lot of which would flow straight to the democrat party. So, even if the GOP doesn’ t get votes, this still messes the unions ups and cuts democrat party funding, so its well worth the effort.

  2. It won’t get votes now. It will disrupt the lock the Democrats/unions maintain on the next generation of voters.

    Likewise felons. It’s the right thing to do, and not doing it gains us nothing (because the Democrats will do it without us, but on their own dishonest terms) while also turning us into hypocrites.

    Republicans have to think beyond the next election; the left has been gaming the system for decades. We’re not going to fix it any faster, and the GOP isn’t going to outsmart the opposition by working against our own principles.

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