October 15, 2003


Vouchers and votes (Thomas Sowell, October 15, 2003, Townhall.com)

If you stop and think about it, if the Democrats allow the Republicans to pass a bill that will make vouchers available all across America, that could create a huge political problem for the Democrats at the next election and for years thereafter.

First of all, vouchers would alienate one of the Democrats' biggest financial contributors, the teachers' unions. These unions also supply much manpower and phone banks to get out the votes on election nights. Losing their support would be a huge loss.

Then there is the support of blacks, who are the group that votes most dependably and most overwhelmingly for Democrats. But what if a Republican-sponsored bill creates vouchers that allow black children to escape the terrible schools that so many attend?

Since voucher schools will not have to accept hoodlums, they will tend to be safer places, even if the education they offer is no better. But studies have already indicated that there are better educational results as well.

Not all black parents will send their children to private schools with their vouchers and not all those that do will vote Republican at the next election. But once it becomes apparent that vouchers offer some escape from the worst schools, word is going to spread. Moreover, Republicans can point out that Democrats fought against vouchers, tooth and nail, for years.

This does not mean that most blacks would vote Republican. Chances are the Democrats would continue to win a majority of the black votes for some time to come. But, in a country as evenly divided politically as America is today, Democrats could be ruined if their current 90 percent of the black vote erodes to 75 percent. Democrats are already in trouble among white voters, so they need every black vote they can get to offset that.

The problem that conservatives have to face up to is that moderate Republicans are nearly as opposed to vouchers, because their white constituents don't want black kids moving into their own kids' schools. There's plenty of blame to go around on vouchers.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 15, 2003 8:21 AM

My kids need to go to school with others less inundated by sheer good fortune.

Otherwise, try as hard as I might, it will be harder to convince them they didn't hit a triple, they got born on third base.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 15, 2003 12:39 PM

Why do you keep saying that "moderate Republicans" are against vouchers? They actually aren't against vouchers.

Black parents - taking their vouchers and sending their kids to a different school - would be just as responsible as those "moderate Republicans" sending their kids to the same school.

It's not the color of the parents' skin that's at stake here; it's the common desire to flee the government schools to get a worthwhile education for their children.

Posted by: John J. Coupal at October 15, 2003 6:59 PM


White middle class suburban parents are actually fairly pleased with public schools and don't think they need vouchers but they're understandably concerned that an influx of inner city black kids will have a negative impact. It's a no-win/lose situation for them.

Posted by: oj at October 15, 2003 8:32 PM

"White middle class suburban parents are actually fairly pleased with public schools and don't think they need vouchers"

Because their public schools are in fact good, and they personally don't need vouchers.

"but they're understandably concerned that an influx of inner city black kids will have a negative impact."

Huh? This seems to me completely unrealistic.

Vouchers in Boston will give poor Bostonians a check they can take to anyone who wants to accept it. The local Catholic schools will probably take the check. A private school in Wellesley will take the check so long as they're sure that taking this new customer won't drive away any of their current ones. The Wellesly public schools, not being in the business of taking in paid customers from outside of town, probably won't. If they try the school board will shut them down PDQ.

For suburban parents, an urban voucher system, or even a national one aimed at poor people, will pretty much have no effect.

It isn't that "moderate Republicans" oppose vouchers as an assault on their interest. They either are wary of new ideas/still believe the liberal line on how wonderful public education is as a matter of principle, or more likely they just don't care either way.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at October 19, 2003 4:14 PM
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