School Choice Hypocrisy
From Megan McArdle :
Sandra Tsing-Loh is shocked and hurt that Obama sends his daughters to an expensive private school rather than the local public schools.
Barack Obama sends his children to private school. As a rabid public school Democrat, I crumpled in despair at the news. ...I do not know why Barack and Michelle Obama cannot send their children to a nice public school in Hyde Park
In Obama's defense, the public schools in Chicago are terrible. My parents struggled with the same decision--my father worked for a Democratic city administration at the time, and they had both ideological and political reasons to want me to go to public school. But the catastrophic condition of New York's public schools at the time was too much for them, and at considerable personal sacrifice they ended up putting me in private school.
What is intolerable to me is when parents who have exercised school choice for themselves then oppose it for everyone else. Of course, Obama has little choice; the teacher's unions have far too firm a grip on the Democratic party for any of their politicians to buck its wishes.
I agree with Megan. regardless of the issue, this is trait of liberals that simply irks me. And it also irks me that it doesn't irk more liberals.
As a libertarian, the problem here is screaming out at me and it's two-fold:
1. Well-do-to liberals are hypocrites when they, while claiming to champion the disadvantaged, do things that go against what they preach politically because...well...let's just say it: They are self-interested human beings who care about their family and, thus, lofty-sounding goals and stances on some issues fall flat in their real world. The Obama's want the best the for their kids...like any other parents. And they have the means to do something about it. Yet, in public life, they frown on ideas that offer others the same choice because they feel they have to stand up for schools that they would never send their kids to. Like I said: hypocrites. IOW, they seem to support choice in real life and implicitly in public policy...but ONLY if parents have the means to make this choice with no help (like the Obamas). Score one for the upper-middle class. I wonder if such stances secretly help win the votes of suburban liberals who don't want "THEM" dragging down their schools. After all, they paid good money to be in a geographical zone that allows their kids to go to good schools with other kids like them.
2. The other problem is with liberals like Sandra who think others should conform to their ideals that run counter to individual choice and common sense self interest...lest they be the "bad guy". And why would Obama be the bad guy? Because he doesn't actively support through his own private actions a goal that Sandra feels matters more. IOW, Sandra would have people do things her way in support of helping bad schools that caring parents of means would never subject their own kids to. Sandra is therefore implicitly saying that Obama and other liberals should take one for the team and hurt their own children...something most parents won't do when they have options. This all runs counter to the ideals of free country.
But both expose a I mentioned in a previous diary and this school choice example is a perfect example of what I meant when I said:
The strand of Democrats that I find particularly depressing, dim and unwittingly masochistic is what is called the "Social Democrat"...or more precisely...what I call the National-(istic) Communitarian Social-(istic) Democrat. It is a group full of contradiction and..strangely enough...rife with illiberalism that rivals the likes of Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. It is, at the same time, a caricature and a very real wing of the party. It is an ideological basket case that wants what the frightening fruition of its vision could never deliver and hates what its vision inadvertently and indirectly does deliver...while never realizing its role in the worst of the reality it despises. It is a desire for control that wreaks uncontrollable havoc which then begets more desire for control and continued havoc like a dog chasing its own tail. It desires an inclusion that causes and demands a want for exclusion. It wants the benefits that come from the antithesis of what it wants while claiming them as their own creations...all while seeking to destroy that very antithesis in the name of yet other values that are not borne from what it seeks. In short, its murky and compromised sense of true liberalism, of any kind, has a very, very low threshold...after which point it's extremely illiberal in an effort to keep what it has unsustainably gained and fend off the side-effects of what it has unwittingly wrought.
Obama's and Sandra's problem is one of ignoring what people really want for themselves and their families. Obama is being like the TV Evangelist in Phil Collins' song that says "Do what I say, Don't do what I do" and Sandra is being like the Communists at the Berlin Wall who wanted to stop people from escaping to the freedom of the West because it hurt the failing program that required the commitment and obedience that free-loving people are not willing to sacrifice their family and lives for when push comes to shove.
A libertarian-sensible Democrat would dump the shackles of this hypocrisy and truly stand up for the disadvantaged by giving everyone the best chance to succeed withpout hurting others freedom of choice. And if their failing public school system can't handle what it helped to create then the evidence should push them to new ideas to break up and shake the disgustingly inadequate urban school system they feel compelled to stick up for...to the detriment of everyone.