Politics and education don’t always mix


Except for former candidate Jeb Bush’s wrong-headed ideas about school accountability and privatization and Ted Cruz’s vow to abolish the Department of Education, candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have mostly ignored the needs of public schools.

So, it’s not much of a surprise when the candidates and their key political supporters also sound as if they have forgotten a lot of what they ever learned in school, particularly about the system of government under which they hold and seek office.

Consider a statement that Gov. Greg Abbott made this week in an interview with The Texas Tribune, after he had endorsed Cruz for president. Asked if he, as governor, could work with Donald Trump as president, Abbott replied that he “can work with any president…and it’s a whole lot easier working with a federal government that follows the Constitution as opposed to violate the Constitution.”

The answer was largely non-responsive as it relates to Trump, since no one really knows what he would try to do with the Constitution as Bully-in-Chief.

Cruz fancies himself a constitutionalist, but he was one of two White House candidates (Bush was the other) proposing after the Paris terrorist attacks to ban Syrian refugees from entering the United States, unless they were Christian. That idea doubtlessly sounded good to Cruz’s right-wing base – which is why he proposed it – but it clearly would violate constitutional protections against religious discrimination.

Abbott tried to ban Syrian refugees from entering Texas, even though immigration, under the Constitution, is a responsibility of the federal government, not the states.

As attorney general before he was governor, Abbott may have set a record suing the federal government and bragged about it. He has never bragged, however, about losing most of those suits, even with a very conservative circuit court with jurisdiction over Texas and a conservative U.S. Supreme Court.

So, now Abbott wants to promote a national effort to rewrite the Constitution to remove safeguards he finds offensive. Fortunately, his idea has about as much chance of becoming reality as Trump has of entering a monastery.

Maybe what Abbott meant to say to the reporter was, “It would be a whole lot easier working with a federal government that interprets the Constitution the way I want it to.”

There are no educational requirements for political candidates or officeholders, and I am not proposing any. But I wonder how many of them could pass the citizenship test required of immigrants who have become naturalized citizens because they really do value our Constitution.



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