It’s always fascinating to observe how the left, imprisoned by its false assumptions about how the world works, views the events that invalidate its worldview. Members of the mainstream media and Louisiana Democrats provide a perfect prism by which to investigate this phenomenon in their parsing of Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s brief second inauguration remarks.
About the only prospective issue raised by Jindal in an otherwise image-laden, retrospective campaign concerned elementary and secondary education, reinforced by his backing of various candidates to the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education who said the same or did not appear to oppose it. And it turned out to be about the only issue of which Jindal spoke in his address, saying “In America, you do not have a right to have everything your neighbor has, you do not have a right to a big house or a fancy car, and you do not have a right to redistribute your neighbor’s wealth. But I would suggest this. I would suggest that we long ago decided that every kid does have a right to a quality education from an excellent teacher. And by getting a good education, kids then do have an opportunity to pursue their dreams.”
Also, he stated that the “key to reforming education here in Louisiana is not massive spending and tax increases. Throwing more money at the problem has proven to be a failure ... All we need to do is muster the courage to change our ways and to abandon old, tired methods that failed generations of our children. Anyone who stands in the way of providing real opportunities to all our kids must now stand down. Anyone who stands in the way of giving all our parents and all our children more choices when it comes to education must stand down.”
Having presented the correct diagnosis of the situation, the response from the liberal peanut gallery in the Legislature, simulating that of a brick wall getting talked to, came right on cue. One Democrat, state Rep. Robert Johnson said he hoped whatever Jindal would put forward on the issue would include pay raises for teachers in order to get their pay close to the national average, seemingly blissfully unaware that the average salary in the state at $49,006 for the most recent figure, while the figure of a few months earlier was only a few dollars below the southern regional average, higher than most in the region (which is skewed higher by the inclusion of border states Maryland and Delaware in its computation; Louisiana’s is fourth highest otherwise). For its cost of living, Louisiana pumps more than enough into salaries yet, as Jindal noted, throwing disproportionately more money at teachers has not solved the problem of educational underperformance.
Another, state Sen. Yvonne Dorsey-Colomb, who in her case appeared to have elections returns bounce off her consciousness unregistered, wistfully that the education agenda proposed by the governor should be inclusive and all officials should have a say in change for value-added sake. But, as Jindal identified, inclusiveness, if that means diluting or obviating reforms that expand choice for families in education options, this “inclusiveness” merely circles back to those old, tired methods that have failed again and again. To follow Johnson’s and Dorsey’s wishes constitutes standing at the schoolhouse door, not standing down in deliberate obstruction of increased choice and improvement.
Or, rephrasing for Jindal what another chief executive from his opponents’ party once said, “I won,” and adding to that another erstwhile comment, adjusted for geography, “We’re responding to the [Louisianan] people. The [Louisianan] people didn’t listen to [Democrats] too well during the election.” The debate is over, Jindal confirmed, and observed that policy-makers may choose either to continue to be part of the problem, or contribute to becoming part of the solution.
This kind of rhetoric some of the liberal chattering classes found objectionable. Columnist Stephanie Grace said Jindal “wants to steer the reform drive into more ideologically divisive territory” in order to serve higher political ambitions. Her fellow traveler Jarvis DeBerry accused Jindal’s words of “ideological rigidity” and “the implication that he won't be partisan in pushing reform must have provoked laughter across the state,” which he also attributes to that same motivation.
But the only laughter evoked from these opinion writers’ statements comes from seeing the transparent lack of sophistication in their thinking and arguments. Among many on the left, how come it is that any disagreement with it and promotion of alternative policy preferences is called “divisive?” And why is it so that when liberals can amass voting majorities for their policy preferences we hear no offers from any of them to practice “inclusiveness,” only getting that when they have lost the battle of ideas? Instead, as when Jindal points out that history and facts that show liberalism as an ideology is on the wrong side of this issue, instead of reevaluating their ideas and accepting his leadership on it, they react in a partisan way, ascribing partisan intent to him because they assume he reacts as they do in a partisan manner in this instance.
At least some get reality. Michelle Millhollon and Will Sentell, the former especially no fan of Jindal’s, in reporting about the speech accurately captured its meaning: an attempt to unify by trying to dismantle structural barriers, those in place because of a lack of total commitment to putting children’s educational attainment ahead of special interests and ideological goals, that prevent the possibility of achievement for all children. It is neither partisan nor wrong to view the world as it is, want a better outcome, and strive for appropriate solutions. Calling out the impediments to that realization, as Jindal did, serves the greater good in this instance.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 10:55