Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Stephanie Simon's article in Politico Pro this morning explains a lot about the Jindal-DOJ-Voucher fiasco that I have posted on several times. Simon explores the new Republican agenda to attract minority voters through school choice. High profile congressional leaders have been pushing choice and the the Republican Growth and Opportunity Project included it as a fulcrum issue. They believe that, at the very least, talking about choice and opportunity for minorities will soften the party's image. Even if it doesn't equal minority votes, it could equal votes from moderates.
This concerted national agenda confirms the continual suspicion in my posts that something beneath the surface of Louisiana voucher case was driving Jindal's fervor. I had intimated it was simply his stumbling across an issue that provided a platform for a national spotlight. While it achieved that end, it now seems it was probably spurred on by the national party; remember the random editorial by the Chicago Tribune, the letters of support from Cantor, and the outside research by choice advocates. This effort now seems concerted, not happenstance. The party had likely been lying in wait to find a case it could blow out of proportion. All this effort, however, does not seem to account for the fact that this is not the first time the party has tried this strategy. As James Foreman detailed in The Rise and Fall of School Vouchers: A Story of Religion, Race and Politics, 54 UCLA L. REV. 547 (2007), the republican party and the religious right sought to use minority support as a means by which to present vouchers in religious neutral terms, but the movement for vouchers eventual fell apart because it was not genuine in its commitment to minorities and they recognized it. With that said, the increased availability and ease of charter schools also disincentivized voucher policies. Regardless, this means the Louisiana voucher fight will not be the last. Whether voters will be more receptive to the national agenda than last time remains to be seen.