By Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
My representative, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, has been doing a lot of talking recently about public schools. Criticized for “softening” his tough stand on social issues, Cantor has taken to the lectern to buff up his right-wing street cred. And what better whipping boy than public education?
Take for instance this little dittie in February while speaking to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) about budget priorities even as he diverted attention from the impending sequestration mess that he helped bring about. Lamenting the lack of progress on curing diseases such as brain cancer, Cantor remarked, “There is an appropriate and necessary role for the federal government to ensure funding for basic medical research. Doing all we can to facilitate medical breakthroughs for people … should be a priority. We can and must do better …. Funds currently spent by the government on social science – including on politics of all things – would be better spent helping find cures to diseases.” As if one must exclude the other, you know.
Then, Cantor delivered the coup de grâce, traipsing out D.C. resident Joseph Kelley whose son, Rashawn, was failing miserably in a D.C. school. Singing the praises of private school and the scholarship that got Rashawn there, Cantor pitched the usual GOP line about school choice. School choice, as many know, is the conservative’s way of subsidizing private schools with vouchers funded by tax dollars. In fact, Rashawn’s scholarship, the DC Opportunity Program, is a federally funded valentine passed by a GOP Congress in 2004 to aid its allies in the private school industry.
The AEI talk was billed as a “major speech” by the congressman, thus Republicans dutifully began to rally around a bill introduced last May by then-Rep. Jeff Flake which he promoted saying, “Let me simply say I can think of few finer examples to cut than the National Science Foundation’s Political Science Program.” The GOP got some unexpected support with an article published in The Atlantic, by former political scientist Greg Ferenstein, agreeing that such funding was impractical. “After four years of desperately searching in vain for how my degree could make the world a better place, the lack of real-world impact convinced me to leave a Ph.D. program in political science,” he whined. No degree makes the world a better place; that takes some post-graduate effort, my sad friend.
Cantor doubled down at CPAC this past Friday calling our schools “too dangerous,” and endorsing school choice as the fix.
In short, school choice is the answer,” Cantor said. “It puts our conservative values to work and provides opportunity for our kids. Now President Obama and the Democrats have got to see the light. We can find common ground. But as Ronald Reagan said, ‘If they don’t see the light, we’ll make ‘em feel the heat.’ The fight for the future of our country is here.
Guns, it seems, has replaced cancer as the call to arms for forking over tax payer dollars to private institutions –many of them religiously based.
It’s no surprise that Cantor was anointed by the GOP to sound the clarion on this issue. Graduating from Richmond’s prestigious (and private) Collegiate School, the nation’s highest ranking Jewish legislator attended George Washington University and then William & Mary Law School, and finally Columbia’s business school. He then settled into the wealthy suburban life of Richmond’s west end bedroom communities practicing law with his father and uncle. A protegé of former Richmond mayor and US Congressman Tom Bliley (of the infamous Gramm-Leach-Bliley bill deregulating banks in 1999 and ushering in the financial crisis of 2008) , he advanced rapidly in GOP circles aided by his father, Richmond lawyer, Eddie Cantor. Initially practicing real estate law, he abandoned that profession under Bliley’s guiding hand to rise to the position he now enjoys.
In short, a child of privilege aiding other children of privilege with tax dollars. I want what I want when I want it,” indeed. Sadly, nothing new now. It was Kurt Vonnegut who said “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” Boy, was he right.
~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger
Source: Politico and throughout