Friday, April 11, 2014

Don't get fooled again

I was talking with a friend the other day, and he was telling me that a Democratic candidate he supports intends to make education a central issue in the up coming campaign, possibly the key or central issue.  I can see the thinking.  Luna laws where shot down, indicating much support for education in Idaho.  The recent legislative session restored education spending a little, but not really all that much, and seemed to be a back seat to rainy day savings and ideological issues (Kill the Wolves!).  It would look like Idahoans care more about education than the political leaders.

All the above is correct, but running on education as an issue by itself is a loser for Democrats.  When has that not been a or the key issue for Dems?  Running on it yet again is nothing new or exciting.  Besides, look how well that's worked for Dems in Idaho.

The problem is two fold.  Republicans also claim to support education. Have you ever heard any Rep say "Education is stoopid and I don't support it?"  Of course not.  The Reps have framed it as "I love education, and we're spending all we can afford right now."  They've successfully framed is as a fiscal issue, and Idahoans are congenitally predisposed to think the same way.

The second part is that Dems are so closely associated with the teachers union.  That's just undeniable.  And again, Reps have successfully framed it as supporting spending more money on education is just pandering to the teachers union.

It's almost like jujitsu.  As soon as a Dem says s/he supports education, it plugs into the Rep framing and is heard as "I want to spend more money" and "I want to pander to the teachers union."

So, it's a loser issue for Dems, unless it's repackaged to avoid the Rep frames.  Our state economy sucks, which is also undeniable.  Rock bottom, or near it, in wages, % working minimum wage jobs, all that.  I think that if Dems will talk about those issues, and hang them around Reps necks (after all, they've been in total control since forever), they have an opening.  And part of that can be that we have to offer employers a more highly skilled and educated workforce.  The current workforce attracts the crappy low wages jobs we've got here.  If more skilled workers were available, the state would be more attractive to an employer needing those skilled workers, and such jobs pay better.

Don't play into the Republican framing and "support education."  Instead, support offering employers a highly skilled workforce.  That sounds much better the Republican ears.

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