Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Eliminating The Middle-Men

Ever since the election of Ronald Reagan, our country has been steadily moving to the right. Sometimes it's a jump, like the 1994 Contract With America.  Sometimes it's a shuffle, like when Bill Clinton changed our country's welfare system in response to the success of the Contract With America.

But right now, the move to the right is like a tsunami, and it's swallowing moderate Republicans and incumbents in both parties.  The move to the right is becoming a phenomenon no one person can control.  Outside interest groups are spending more money in this election cycle than they did in 2008.

On one level, this can be seen as an inside-the-beltway power struggle being fought by proxy.  Senator Jim DeMint is trying to unseat minority leader Mitch McConnell by riding a wave of populist anger fanned by the  tea party candidates DeMint is supporting across the country.  Think Charlie Christ versus Marco Rubio in Florida.  And it's the McConnell allies that seems to be losing the battle right now, as evidenced by the primary loss of three term Utah senator Robert Bennett.

But the tea party is leaving chaos in its wake.  For example, tea party activists attending the Maine Republican convention re-wrote the party platform to call for laissez-faire economic policies and the elimination of both the Federal Reserve Bank and the Department of Education.  Olympia Snowe, who recognizes that she's a Republican in a blue state, now has to choose between running to the right and alienating most of the State or staying in the center and thus antagonizing her own party.  Snowe has suggested that the Republican party will have to decide whether it wants to be a diverse majority party or a far right minority party consisting of tea party faithful.

So what does this mean for New Jersey?  It's clear that Governor Christie is playing to the tea party, with his talk of taking back our State and legislating from the bench.  And it has also become clear to me that the Governor has absolutely no interest in meeting Democrats in the middle -- this year, the middle is no-man's land.  The Governor is going to run as far right as he can, so that he can ride the tea party wave as far as it can take him.  And if that leaves New Jersey in a state of chaos, so be it.

And then it hits me.  In Maine, the tea party activists are calling for the elimination of the Federal Department of Education.  In New Jersey, the Governor is proposing to send tax dollars to private schools at the expense of failing public schools.  And I've been wondering, what will happen to the already failing public schools when they start losing money and students?  The answer is, they will stop failing and simply fail.

That's the design.  Governor Christie may not be calling for the end of the Department of Education, but he is clearly taking steps to end public education in New Jersey's urban areas.  The plan is to reduce property taxes by privatizing urban schools, where the lion's share of the State's property taxes go.  The goal is to create chaos in urban areas that will be seen as opportunities for business (to be exploited with corporate income tax deductions and other corporate welfare), because in Chris Christie's New Jersey children are not just our future, they are our future profit centers.

So, to our State's Democrats in the Senate and House, please recognize that there is no point in appeasing this Governor.  Resist the urge to join the Governor in his mission to willfully dismantle the public education system.  No more Munichs!

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