As most of us know, it is easier for people in the audience to quickly come up with brilliant responses than it is for the person being interviewed or the candidate up on the debate stage. I’ve never been a contestant on Jeopardy or any other game show, but my guess is that, not infrequently, some contestants miss out on answers they would have known were they watching the show in the comfort of their living rooms. In other words, being a great back-seat-driver is easier than actually driving.
Having admitted that, I have done a fair bit of cringing at the words of Republican candidates I admire. To be fair, most interviews and many Republican debates are staged by a media hoping to make conservative candidates sound foolish or evil, preferably both. The questions are phrased and the time allotted to help achieve that result. Knowing that, the candidates need to prepare ways to get around the handicap.
One recent example that resonates with me is several candidates’ calls to eliminate the Department of Education as an example of where budgets can be slashed. You know and I know that scads of money is given to education in this country with pathetic results. The system is designed to enrich a few top echelon bureaucrats and pander to political bases, not to care for children. You and I know that thousands of parents try to get their children into charter school slots that are severely limited. You and I know that political correctness, union rules and other policies protect and promote criminal and incompetent teachers while penalizing those who could unlock students’ minds and help them to achieve greatness. Yet, even for those parents desperate to get their children out of failing schools there is a disconnect between their desperation and political parties. When they hear calls to eliminate the Department of Education, they believe that means ignoring, not helping, their children. The phrase without explanation is toxic. With explanations and vivid, heart-rending examples of children trapped in dangerous places and the prison of illiteracy, it could truly improve the lives of many and the health of our nation.
Eliminating the Department of Education in order to save money is easily seen in the public’s mind as an act of cold, ice-blooded indifference to the lives of young children, particularly minorities. In reality, it could be the greatest gift this generation’s poor and underprivileged children could get. Same action; different word picture. I’m not up on the stage, I’m just a back-seat-driver. Nevertheless, someone in the driver’s seat needs to study the map before getting behind the wheel.