Over the last three and a half years, I have had the privilege of leading the fight for school choice in California. I have been all over the state. I can say confidently that except for the ideologically demented, the entrenched union leadership and the politicians they own outright, I have encountered very little opposition to school choice.
Free Advice and Conventional Wisdom
I can also say that I have received very few questions about our The Educational Freedom Act initiative. Most people just sign the petition. But there are others who are convinced that we need their political advice more than their time and money. The questions and comments run something like this:
School choice is a great idea, Mike, but can we win?
You realize, don’t you, that the teachers’ unions will spend millions to defeat school choice?
I really admire what you’re doing, but California is lost.
I would help, Mike, but I’m leaving the state. This state is hopeless.
And then there is my favorite question, uttered with an astonishing grasp of the obvious, spoken very deliberately, as if to a particularly slow child, repeated several times, and NEVER, EVER accompanied by a check:
Do you have any idea how much money you’re going to have to raise, Mike?
I have had more heated discussions with supporters of school choice than with opponents. Every one of those arguments was rooted in political paranoia and fear of the vast political apparatus that our opposition has assembled to enforce their monopoly over the hearts, minds, and souls of our children.
Can School Choice Win in California?
It is a legitimate question and deserves an answer: YES. In Wednesday’s message (July 27, 2022) we analyzed the polls and described the broad, non-partisan support for school choice across the country and in California. Most compelling is our experience gathering signatures from actual voters, 99% of whom signed when they learned about our proposal.
In this article, I would like to explore WHY WE CAN WIN in more depth. In my next article, I will describe HOW WE WILL WIN.
Why We are Losing
We cannot understand how faith, freedom and the family can be restored in California if do not understand how we lost these things in the first place. Let’s begin with the fear and paranoia I referred to above. There is little doubt that California is a modern mega-state which the radical left has seized and molded to its own purposes. They accomplished this using a toxic brew of ideology, propaganda, and ruthless manipulation of the partisan political process. Much has been written on this topic. I will not go into this at any great length.
The Radical Left presented its totalitarian vision of society as both inevitable and irresistible. None of
this was true, of course, but that did not stop them. The confidence and ferocity of their attack on our
institutions shocked and intimidated decent citizens, who reeled and withered under the assault. So
complete was their victory, even its opponents began to believe that resistance to this movement was
Initially, the opponents of this totalitarian movement failed to recognize it as such. They viewed the
Radical Left as just another expression of normal party differences. They reacted as if this radical new
ideology were located somewhere within the continuum of American politics. This was a fatal mistake.
Each accommodation was followed by a new and more radical demand. Middle-of-the-road Americans
sought accommodation with the Radical Left but met defeat instead.
Battered Conservative Syndrome
It might be said that the greatest political achievement of the Radical Left is the defeatist rhetoric of its
opponents. Even when presented with irrefutable proof of the vulnerability of California’s Radical Left,
the average conservative will still cower and argue that we are powerless, that the Radical Left’s victory
is complete, final, and irreversible; so much so that the only alternative is to concede the loss of
California and move to another state hoping naively that these same demands will not be affected
through federal system. I call this Battered Conservative Syndrome.
Conventional Political Wisdom is Just Wrong
The fact is that the victory of the Radical Left is both tenuous and temporary. The simple fact is that
totalitarianism simply does not work. It chiefly benefits those who control the system. There is nothing
in it for the average citizen. Americans, including the foreign nationals who must live under the system,
have begun to realize this. Here are a few examples:
Hispanics and Latinos
The conventional wisdom is that immigrants, i.e., foreigners, would come to America from failed Leftist
countries, embrace here what they left behind and keep the Radical Left in power forever. Well, it’s not
quite working out that way. It turns out that only 26% of Hispanics and Latinos have a favorable view of
Joe Biden, the standard bearer of the Left. These are the same folks who show up in the polls
supporting school choice overwhelming and who enthusiastically sign the school choice petition. It
wasn’t supposed to be this way!
Black voters are getting hammered by Radical Left’s social and economic policies. They are the most
vocal critics of CRT, transgenderism, rising inflation, and declining economic opportunities for their
communities. Small wonder then that formerly monolithic support for Biden among blacks is now only
62%. It is much lower among younger blacks. On the other hand, Black voters are among the most
enthusiastic supporters of school choice which they rightly perceive as the foundation of future
economic success. Again, it wasn’t supposed to be this way!
Things have changed and will continue to get worse for the Radical Left here in California. If Battered
Conservatives will put aside their conventional political wisdom for five minutes, they will be able to see
that the political landscape in California has shifted dramatically. The voters are waiting for common
sense solutions and decisive leadership. That is why School Choice will win in 2024 if it’s on the ballot.
Getting it there is our shared responsibility. Californians of all parties and every color, shape, religion,
and background are behind us. We just must lead.
Donate. Victory and freedom require money. Enough said. If you want to save our country, I ask that
you invest in this campaign.
Volunteer. Our volunteers gathered upward of 200,000 signatures for our last petition. We need to do
a lot more in the upcoming campaign. We will need the help of everyone to get that job done now.
Chairman, Californians for School Choice
President, California School Choice Foundation