First, the Aspen Institute online journal Aspenia asked me to revisit a subject I’ve written about frequently for them – the healthcare debate – in the context of the campaign. My thesis:
Despite the Republicans’ six-year obsession with repealing Obamacare, the healthcare issue has played a relatively minor role in this year’s presidential campaign. It nevertheless encapsulates all the themes that make this election such compelling theater – and dispiriting politics: the collapse of conservatism into incoherence, the retreat of liberalism into reaction, and the refusal of both parties to move their ideologies into the 21st Century.
You can read the full piece here: “The Healthcare Debate As Mirror of a Dispiriting Presidential Campaign.”
In the run-up to this week’s big Midwest primaries, I weighed in on the supposed-demise of the Republican Party in an article entitled, “The Aggrieved Party,” that the editors at US News & World Report liked so much that they put it on the front page of Friday’s Report feature. My key point was that “the Republican Party is simply becoming what Democrats used to be – the party of those left behind by the emerging economy.” This is part of a larger political realignment I’ve been writing about for the last several years:
Democrats are increasingly a party of minimalist government for the 21st century’s winners – the Obama campaign spoke openly of its high-tech, well-educated base in formerly-marginalized demographics like women, gays and minorities as a “coalition of the ascendant” – and their interest in the downtrodden wanes as the dispossessed look less and less like the formerly-oppressed-but-newly-ascendant and more like people who vote for Donald Trump and (shudder) Sarah Palin.
Of course, not everyone buys this view – especially my fellow liberals when it comes to my concern with what’s happening to liberalism. So, in response to one friend’s critique on Facebook, I elaborated on this theme yesterday in a second US News post, “The Politics of Class Warfare.” After noting a recent study showing that, “despite the widespread perception of Senator Bernie Sanders as the near-unanimous choice of college students across America,” he actually performs poorly at elite private institutions like Wellesley, Harvard and Williams, I turned to polling data I’ve previously cited indicating that “Millennials from higher income (and educational – although that’s redundant) backgrounds are good liberals in every way except that they don’t believe in government programs; those with lower socio-economic status are somewhat more culturally conservative but believe strongly in government assistance for struggling Americans (like themselves).”
Th[e] future actually looks more like what we now see playing out in this primary season: Even though it’s the older voters in each party driving the nominations of, respectively, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, each likely nominee’s base reflects the coming realignment. Trump is attracting downscale social conservatives who want more government, to the disgust of traditional GOP elites; Clinton is winning Democrats who want to feel liberal but are decreasingly interested in Sixties nostalgia and large government programs, especially of a redistributionist hue. Increasingly, if you want to design the New Economy, you vote Democratic; if you want government money, Republican.
As always, I would love to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave your comments below.
In my last update, I told you about Public Works merging with Sequoia Consulting Group, allowing us to offer a wider range of services. Even before, however, we’ve been moving to expand and deepen our work in one policy area of particular interest to us: education.
This year, Public Works is literally taking our education work to new extremes: We’re undertaking reviews of both the K-12 and post-secondary education agencies in Alaska – and just this week we launched a new project to expand early childhood education high up in the Rockies. At the top are pictures of Dr. JoAnn Cox, our Alaska project leader, at the top of the world in Barrow, AK, and of me with our project manager Deborah Forman in Eagle, CO.
We’ve also been joined by Laura Dukess, a long-time specialist in educational leadership, and we’ll be adding additional experts as our practice further expands. Education also is a key part of the social venture activities I’ll be undertaking now in addition to my continued public sector consulting (more on that in a coming update).
Of course, along with our extensive involvement in workforce development, education has been central to Public Works’ mission from the beginning:
— One of our earliest projects was comprehensive research on early childhood education for the California Commission on Families and Children. We designed a national strategy on early education for the Center for National Policy, and the nation’s first Cabinet-level Department of Early Learning engaged us to identify innovative funding approaches. We also designed an expansion of Iowa’s Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program, and last year coordinated transfer of Louisiana’s Child Care Development Fund to the state’s Department of Education.
— We’ve conducted performance reviews of school operations in New Orleans and four South Carolina districts, helped to streamline the school construction process in California, and wrote a comprehensive strategic plan for professional development in the New Brunswick, NJ, school district. And we designed an innovative Crisis Response Box program in California and Mississippi for addressing school shootings.
— In education policy, our statewide review in West Virginia not only identified $90 million in savings but also defined strategies to improve teaching and technology use. In Arizona, we studied the alignment of K–12 public education with post-secondary and workforce demands, and we helped establish P-20 councils in both Arizona and West Virginia. We also recommended improvements in teacher licensure, accountability and assessment, and charter schools in New Mexico, and developed a comprehensive K-12 agenda for New York City. And we produced a report for the California Department of Education on modernizing “Voc-Ed” into Career and Technical Education for the 21st century.
— We’ve worked on access to higher ed with a complete overhaul of California’s student loan guaranty entity, and a college scholarship program for Cuyahoga County, Ohio. We partnered with the world’s largest university system – Cal State – on expansion of applied education doctorates, a Centers of Excellence program in STEM education, and reorienting the state education system to high-demand fields. We also developed the strategic plan for a regional technical education center at UNM-Gallup and a gap analysis of community college needs in northwestern Pennsylvania.
Look for more from us in education as 2016 progresses!