GOP Schools Dems in Education Politics

GOP Schools Dems in Education Politics

April 27, 2022

These days, Democrats can't even turn around without bumping into another poll that reminds them of the shellacking that awaits in November. The prophecies of doom are everywhere now, including the pages of their most reliable water-carriers: the mainstream press. At headquarters, where strategists wince with every Joe Biden interview, the hand-wringing must be at an all-time high now that they've officially lost their edge on a longtime party winner: education.

For decades, Democrats played the schools to their advantage, owning the space in practically every political way. But the tables have turned, thanks to COVID, and the days of playing parents for suckers are over. It took a global pandemic, but the blinders have been blown off. Americans are onto the Left's ultimate goal of turning their children into the next generation of woke, LGBT, neo-Marxists -- and they don't like it. For suburban moms like Marianne Burke, a Democrat, the awakening came when Terry McAuliffe uttered the words that every liberal now regrets: "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."

"We were watching the debate and I said to my husband, 'This is it. He better explain what he means,'" Burke said. But she knew what he meant -- and so did every other Virginian that sent Glenn Youngkin (R) to the governor's mansion in a stunning upset. The Youngkin Effect has only boomed since then, spurring Republicans to action in a slew of states, where conservatives see a real opportunity for connection across demographic lines. From parental rights bills and CRT bans to girls' sports protections, conservatives are gradually chipping away at the trustworthiness of Joe Biden's party on the issue.

Outraged parents are flocking to the GOP, desperate for an ally in this new wave of culture wars the Democrats have launched. "Republicans at the local, state and federal level are standing with the parents," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared. And it's paying off. A CNN poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe education is "extremely" or "very important" heading into the 2022 elections. "For party leaders tasked with crafting midterm strategy, this development should set off alarms," the New York Times warned, "Voters who feel looked down on by elites are now finding common cause with those elites, forming an alliance that could not only cost the Democrats the midterm elections but also fundamentally realign American politics."

In most places, that shift is already well underway. While the Democrats are taking on water on almost every issue, it's the education bucket that's slipping away fastest. In a Morning Consult poll this week, voters were asked which party they preferred on education. Forty-four percent chose Democrats; 39 percent picked Republicans (17 percent didn't know). But wait, you may be thinking. Biden's party still has the advantage. Slightly, yes. (Even less slightly in other polls that have Republicans within the margin of error). But what's significant here -- and what is probably panicking DNC operatives -- is how far the GOP has come. Historically, Republicans have polled almost 30 points behind the Democratic Party on schooling.

"NBC News-Wall Street Journal polling released last month showed Democrats had had an edge on this issue in every single survey it has done since 1989 -- two dozen in total. Only on five occasions was the edge less than double digits, and never was it less than six points." The last couple of years have turned that narrative on its head, making Biden's party extremely vulnerable on an issue that's cutting across ideological lines.

And for Democrats, who are on the defensive in places like Florida, the story is only getting worse. Leaders like Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) are seizing the opportunity by tapping into parents' concerns -- shattering fundraising records and bringing mega-corporations like Disney to their knees in the process. In other states, his courage -- and others -- is only fueling the pushback.

In states like Utah, Kentucky, Kansas, and Indiana, lawmakers are refusing to take no for an answer on issues that some Republicans would have considered radioactive just a few years earlier. Now, they're leading legislative overrides to ban biological boys from girls' sports, give parents a voice in education, and stop transgender indoctrination. Just last night, the Kansas Senate went four-for-four on bills that Governor Laura Kelly (D) rejected, including a girls' sports bill and a Parents Bill of Rights that would give moms and dads the opportunity to "scrutinize classroom materials," review student records, make medical decisions, speak at school board meetings, and contest graphic library books. "If we, in our state, are going to be serious about public funds that are supporting our public schools then our parents must always have a seat at the table," state Sen. Molly Baumgardner (R) insisted.

Other governors, like Bill Lee (R) in Tennessee, are seeing a flurry of bills cross their desk to fight off the gender identity chaos Democrats have tried to force on districts. On top of a routine K-12 girls' sports law, Lee also signed a separate measure that would withhold state dollars from schools who don't comply. While he finalized that, Republicans also moved a step closer to making history with SB 2777, the groundbreaking pronoun legislation that would protect Christian teachers like Tanner Cross from losing their job if they refuse to play along with a students' made-up identity. If it passes the state Senate (it's already passed the Tennessee House), school employees would have the option to refer to the student by their biological sex without fear or discipline or "civil liability."

"Obviously, teachers in schools can and should be required to act with professionalism and treat all of their students with dignity and respect. Nothing in this bill changes that obligation," state Rep. Mark Cochran, one of the bill's co-sponsors, said. Even so, "Teachers and public school employees... cannot be forced to contradict their core beliefs or to say things they don't believe."

It's all part and parcel of the grassroots sea change that started in local school board meetings and exploded to the highest pinnacles of government. By now, everyone should know: the parents' revolution in education is real. And Democrats ignore it at their peril.

Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Taking the Sting out of Babylon's Cultural Quarrels

April 27, 2022

Ever wonder what the cultural weather will be in a few years, months, or days? Just ask the meteorologists at The Babylon Bee. I'm joking, of course. The Babylon Bee is a satire site, and prudent readers never, ever take a word they say seriously. But they do have a strange knack for nearly predicting future events -- for instance, the recent news of Twitter employees literally crying about Elon Musk buying the company. That may be because "humor is [taking] a little bit of truth... and magnify[ing] it," said FRC President Tony Perkins.

Reality is stranger than The Bee's fictitious spoof; the tears came from "Twitter's top lawyer, Vijaya Gadde," who is described "internally as Twitter's 'moral authority.'" Yet an unbiased outsider would find in Musk's public statements no cause for concern -- unless they implied he would reinstate the Babylon Bee's account. Twitter suspended the Bee's account last month for naming Rachel Levine "Man of the Year" (no truth there!), it's latest scalp in a long line of deplatformed conservatives and Republicans. Perhaps Gadde was "worried Elon Musk will turn Twitter into a place where terrible people post bad opinions and fight with each other all the time," or perhaps because she spilled her milk.

Babylon has targeted The Bee for years, although it would have created less racket by using one. In 2018, alleged fact-checker "Snopes" duped Facebook into temporarily censoring a "false news" story titled, "CNN Purchases Industrial-Sized Washing Machine To Spin News Before Publication." (CNN+ must be the sock lost in the dryer). "The prevailing worldview of our society can't stand up to... ridicule, logic, questioning -- but especially ridicule," Babylon Bee Managing Editor Joel Berry explained. "That's why it's such a powerful tool."

Berry explained, "a joke can get a message out there in a way that catches people off guard" where a long-form, think piece would fail. "The right wants the Left to keep talking -- and we invite it," said Berry. "The Left wants the right to shut up because, when the Left talks, people are kind of repulsed by their ideas." Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon quoted G. K. Chesterton to explain the site's philosophy, "humor can get in under the door while seriousness is still fumbling at the handle."

"We do hope that at some point we'll see a reversal of... some of these suspensions," said Berry. "A decade ago," said Perkins, Twitter "declared itself to be the free speech wing of the Free Speech Party." But it grew so close to government, added Berry, that "it became a de facto arm... the government was using to squash dissent... almost laundering their censorship." Musk plans to reverse course and "bring all ideas into the light," said Berry. "It's a huge threat to people who thrive in secrecy, thrive in darkness."

"Everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed," said Jesus (John 3:20). But "God is light, and in him is no darkness at all," and to have fellowship with him we must "walk in the light" (1 John 1:5-7). Freedom of speech enables truth to shine forth and expose wickedness, and humor is one of the most powerful spotlights.

This is especially true because "God has a sense of humor," said Perkins. Consider Elijah mocking Baal (1 Kings 17:27), Isaiah mocking idol-worshippers (Isaiah 44), or God mocking nations and their rulers for haplessly conspiring against him (Psalm 2:4). Laughter is healthy because "we're all a little silly... we're all sinners," said Berry. "Whether consciously or not, people are acknowledging when they laugh at some of the joke, that we're all a little silly." "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8).

That's why it's healthy to laugh even at ourselves; it is a sign of humility, of recognizing our own shortcomings. Taking yourself too seriously is a symptom of self-righteous Pharisaism (even if you are your own god). "If we can't laugh together about something, that's a real sign that our culture isn't healthy," said Berry. "My most rewarding days [are] when I see a Leftist, or a progressive, or an atheist laughing at a Babylon Bee joke... the cleverness of it, or maybe subconsciously acknowledg[ing] some of the truth."

Perhaps Elon Musk will return a healthy humility to Twitter. But don't hope in that. "Put not your trust in princes..." Berry quoted. "When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish. Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob" (Psalm 146:3-5). "Ultimately, our trust is in God," he said. "He uses powerful men to accomplish his purposes one way or the other. And that's where our hope lies."

In the Face of Atrocities, Ukraine's Resilience Shines Through

April 27, 2022

During a visit to Eastern Europe in early April, Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.) received an unexpected call from a Ukrainian friend.

"I was called by a dear friend of mine from Ukraine who is a member of parliament, also a member of the evangelical faith family of Ukraine," Daines said on "Washington Watch." "He said, 'Steve... we want to take you out to Bucha.'"

As has been painstakingly reported over the last month, Bucha is the town just outside of the Ukrainian capital of Kiev where overwhelming evidence suggests that Russian forces committed war crimes, including the execution of civilian women and children.

"I... saw firsthand, Tony, the irrefutable evidence of the atrocities committed against these innocent Ukrainian people," Daines said. "It was absolutely horrible. I wish nobody would have to see what I saw. The devastation of the ... residential complexes destroyed by Russians. These are civilians, Tony. These were grandmas and grandpas and moms and dads raising their children in a little village outside of Kiev destroyed by the Russians. And then these innocent civilians [were] murdered, executed, and buried in shallow graves."

Daines was among the first U.S. officials to visit Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February. This past Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin also visited Ukraine to announce that U.S. diplomats would soon return to the country, along with the announcement of increased military training for Ukrainian forces. Their visit followed the news that the U.S. would be supplying an additional $713 million in military equipment to the country.

Daines went on to underscore just how important this military aid could be in keeping the conflict from spreading further into neighboring countries.

"We're very concerned what might happen in Moldova as the Russians advance to the west," he said. "And then you've got the Russians right up against Romania. This becomes a very dangerous situation, and that is why it's so important that we give the Ukrainians the lethal aid they need, not just to hold off the Russians, but to beat the Russians. It's important Ukraine wins this war."

On this point, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jerry Boykin added a hopeful note. "I think ... the administration has just accepted the fact that the Ukrainians actually could win this thing," he pointed out on "Washington Watch." "They expected a three to seven-day war and then a change of government. And it hasn't happened. And in fact, the Ukrainians have surprised probably the whole world with the veracity and the toughness that they've demonstrated on the battlefield ... I think what we have here now is a situation where the administration of Joe Biden is accepting that these guys may be on the winning side, and we need to get in behind them and support them."

Just how important is it that Ukraine comes out on the winning side? Daines was clear: "[T]he world has forces of good and forces of evil. We must continue to stand for the force of good and fight against the forces of evil."

As Tony Perkins observed in his conversation with Daines, it's not just Ukraine's fighting ability that is carrying them through, but their faith.

"Not only is it the strong military, but a strong faith community," Perkins said. "As you talked about, it was the pastors that escorted you that are there ministering, that are standing really in the spiritual defense of their nation. And that's why we've got to protect religious freedom as well."