Thursday, November 6, 2008

Where will all the RINOs Go?

The Republican party as we have know it for the last third of a century is dead. It was always an untenable coalition of groups with antagonistic views: libertarians who wanted to do away with government to protect individual freedoms, theocrats who wanted to take over government to limit individual freedoms, and free-market corporate liberals who wanted to buy and sell government to feather their own nests. Anyone outside of that triumvarate was a RINO: a Republican In Name Only. Eisenhower, Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller -- all just RINOS.

What happens now? The libertarians fade back into the woodwork as essentially a marginal group of innocuous kooks; the theocrats look to attach themselves to some other, larger political coalition like a parasite or cancer, the free market corporate liberals buy and sell government in more strategic, retail politics.

As for those RINOs, like Colin Powell, Chris Shays, Richard Lugar: many will gravitate, like Jim Webb, into the Democratic party, alongside of Bill Clinton, Robert Rubin, and others, to bolster the centrist pragmatist group. These folks will counter-balance the progressives like Russ Feingold and John Conyers. Obama as president will no doubt straddle the centrist -progressive divide. The near term future of American politics will be inside the Democratic party, with Obama holding the internal balance of power.

As a result, the issues on the table for education will be somewhat different. I suspect we will be hearing less about faith-based institutions, anti-science curricula, or voucher plans. For those looking for a key to decipher the future federal policy agenda, I suggest taking the likely proposals of both of these groups within the Democratic party and figuriug out their ideological synthesis.

Charter schools and other choice-within-the-system plans, networked technologies, and provisions to increase the educational attainment levels of minorities are likely to loom large.

For "the next big idea," look for a formula that bring these three themes together.

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