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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Election contradictions
Jonathan Pait
November 11, 2002

Last week’s election was an exercise in contradictions for Greenville County voters. They overwhelmingly voted in Republicans – considered conservatives – from the Governor’s mansion to the Greenville County Square. Yet, in the midst of all this, we saw Inez Tenenbaum and the Greenville County School Board voted in with a great majority of the vote. It leads to one question, “Why?”

The response of some is, “Oh, school board candidates run without declaring their party and they fake everyone into thinking that they are something they are not.” (Conservative Greenvillians don’t like to think that people might actually want liberal school board members.) However, that can’t be the answer. One, it wouldn’t explain Tenenbaum. Two, you would almost have to have your head buried in the sand to not know the positions of the school board members.

Here’s an idea that makes sense, though it may further discourage conservative voters. Consider this theory as to why we see this kind of board and Tenenbaum reelected; People approach electing their leaders of education differently than they do other political positions. While non-activist Republicans may vote straight party or nearly so for “political” offices. This is not the case for education.

Democrats appear to have captured the greater share of the education market. They often approach education from a “touchy feely” angle. They typically boil progress down to dollars and cents, which is easily quantifiable. “We care about your children and to prove it, look at how much we have spent to provide the best for their future.”

They really do care. Spending money is the way they show it. It would not serve the conservative cause to go around trying to claim that the Democrats are insincere. Conservatives must make the case that the programs on which the Democrats wish to spend the money are not the answer. The problem is that requires reasoning and in this sound byte driven world reason is often trumped by emotion.

So, it would appear that even Republicans in South Carolina want Democrats over education. They don’t want to cut back on what their children are getting in the way of facilities and programs. Sure, they put a stop to the Democrats going overboard. They did that during the recent push by the school board to increase the tax increase.

The establishment believes they have the answers. Who is to argue with a PhD? To them our public education system is a great experiment. If we will only let them have their way they can bring about what is best for our children. They know what is best. Why do those nasty conservatives want to stand in the way of progress – they must not really care about the children. You do care about the children don’t you? The heads of the masses nod in unison.

I hope my theory is wrong. If it is right then our school system truly is doomed. We will never see any meaningful reform to the system. We’ll still be at the bottom, but we sure will show how much we care.

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