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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The wave is approaching the shoreline. No, I am not talking to surfers. I am talking to Republicans and independents. The wave they have been awaiting is an electoral wave, and it seems to be coming in.

A veteran of many campaigns, Donald H. Rumsfeld, came in from the campaign trail a few days ago saying, “It’s feeling good out there.” Nate Silver, the left-leaning psephologist, says the Republicans have a better than even chance to win both houses. He puts their chances of capturing the Senate at 63 percent. Then remember, too, that the mainstream media is full of uncertainty. That seals it. Republicans are headed for another wave election much like 2010.


In 2010, the independent vote sided with the conservatives, and the Republicans won a historic victory. In 2012 they lost, but that was because 2012 was a rerun of 2008 when Americans had a chance to show that they had finally moved beyond racial prejudice by voting for a black man for president. Looking back on it, I would say his election was almost inevitable. Even I was fetched by Barack Obama, at least then. Surely you did not expect the 2008 Obama supporters to turn their backs on President Obama in 2012? But in 2014, Mr. Obama is not on the ballot. Only his policies are, as he was so oblivious to confirm the other day. The vast majority has made it clear that it does not like those policies. Now, the 2010 coalition of independent voters and conservative voters has come together again, and one thing more. The 4 million conservative voters who stayed home in the last election rather than vote for Mitt Romney will be out in force. This year will be a wave. Possibly not the wave that we saw in 2010, but after Nov. 4 there will be a lot of Democratic pols packing their bags on Capitol Hill.

Already the Republicans are angling for chairmanships on the Hill and sharpening up their legislative gambits. Sen. Mitch McConnell is preparing to take over Sen. Harry Reid’s throne after the necessary fumigation. Rep. Paul Ryan is putting together bills drawn from his very good recent memoir “The Way Forward: Renewing The American Idea” with an eye toward tax reform and balancing the budget. Over the weekend, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the very bright chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in a Wall Street Journal interview suggested a Republican House could work with a Republican Senate to replace the present gridlock with collegial efforts at “liberating people from bureaucracy.” He had in mind areas such as health care, immigration and housing, and simplifying taxation.

Yet, let us consider liberating people from government completely. Incoming Republicans must remember that there are areas of American life where government is simply not needed. Indeed, government involvement has been the problem, not the solution. Last week, I observed one of these areas that has suffered for decades from government involvement: education. I visited the Thales academies in Raleigh, N.C., which are private, relatively inexpensive, and very effective in turning out model students. Their tuition costs between $5,000 and $6,000. Here in Washington one might be paying $20,000 or more. The level of academic achievement is astonishing. Eighth-grade students from Thales taking the ReadiStep College Board exams to assess their preparedness for high school work scored in the 92nd percentile, as opposed to the nearby public schools, whose students scored in the 29th percentile. Remember, I said these are private academies, not voucher schools or charter schools. They are private, and there is plenty of what the public schools call diversity. Some classes looked like the United Nations.

After touring a couple of Thales academies, I asked the man behind these schools what he thought the role of government should be in education. Bob Luddy said, “The federal government should no longer be involved in public education. They have successfully made a complete mess of educating America’s students by raising costs and reducing quality with no hope for the future. Public education should be privatized into a competitive market.” Mr. Luddy is from the world of entrepreneurship. He founded CaptiveAire, the market leader in commercial kitchen ventilation. After founding CaptiveAire, he turned his considerable talents to schooling. He put together the Thales system of education. It involves a lot of thought, but it has produced a lot of excellence, starting with the students’ character and moving on to their education.

If this vote really is a wave vote, there will be a lot that is new and different coming from Washington in the years ahead. Education reform should be on the list. Actually, education liberation from government should be on the list. Take a look at Thales academies, and tell me I am wrong.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is editor in chief of the American Spectator, a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and the author of “The Death of Liberalism” (Thomas Nelson, 2012).


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