Thompson: "Reform" Could Hurt Obama Re-Election Chances
Twenty-five years ago, the New Deal safety net, and the Democratic coalition that it spawned, were aging. School reform was just one of the neoliberal efforts to update federal policy for the 21st century. Even then, observes William Galston in the New Republic , Americans believed that the federal government wasted 38 cents of every dollar. Now we believe that 51 cents is wasted, and that is the highest estimate ever recorded. Since voters are less skeptical about state and local government, federal school reform never was risk-free. But it created an opportunity for progressives to sound tough-minded, and to use the word "accountability" over and over. Data-driven "reform" also won the good will of corporate donors. And it could have helped swing Independents too - had it worked. Galston says that President Obama now faces a double threat, having alienated his base at a time when "the ideological playing-field heading into 2012 is tilted against Democrats." In my recurring nightmare, teachers in swing states end up being responsible for the President Obama's reelection defeat. The demonization of teachers could undercut our turnout in swing states like Colorado, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio. That wouldn't be entirely unreasonable. After all, it was Obama's education secretary, Arne Duncan, who opened the Pandora's Box of government-bashing with his kinder, gentler version of blaming teachers for the sins of society.-JT (@drjohnthompson)Image via.