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The Republican future

"The Republican future" Continued...

Issue: "Obama," Nov. 15, 2008

Q: You're favorably disposed to homeschooling and distance education, but you want to see parents who are good teachers using their skills with not only their own children. What kinds of large-scale cooperative networks do you see developing, and how will they radically change education?

The traditional brick-and-mortar campus-whether for an elementary school, a high school, or a college-will become less and less important. Home-schooling families will network with one another. They'll pool parental expertise across families and disciplines and have access to resources (videos of great teachers lecturing on their subjects, for instance) that most public high schools can't dream of offering at the moment. Distance higher education-taking courses and obtaining degrees over the internet-will probably become the norm for more and more Americans, especially those who currently attend community colleges or vocational schools, and who are trying to juggle employment and education.

Q: You propose an immigration compromise.

Instead of doing immigration reform "comprehensively," we should do enforcement now and some form of amnesty later, once the current rate of illegal immigration has been dramatically slowed. We need to regularize the status of the illegal immigrants who are here and unlikely to go home, but the federal government has no credibility on border enforcement until it can prove that amnesty won't just provide a spur for ever-larger waves of migration. Most Americans are pro-border security and pro-immigrant.

Q: You're generally positive toward President Bush. What did he do right?

He was right that the GOP needed a domestic-policy agenda that emphasized reforming government and reducing the demand for government services, rather than simply abolishing programs outright. He was right that Republicans needed to be able to talk persuasively about traditionally Democratic issues like health care and education. He was right to treat religious conservatives as an integral part of the right-of-center coalition, rather than an embarrassing sideshow. And he was right to pursue Hispanic and even African-American votes, out of a recognition that the GOP was in danger of becoming a purely regional party-the party of white Southerners, and not much else.

Q: Where did he go wrong?

There was always a strain of anti-intellectualism running through the Bush administration, which undercut Bush's policy agenda. And after 9/11, he seemed to lose interest in domestic policy entirely (understandably!), and the result was drift and corruption, as a series of bad bills (especially on energy and transportation) and bad actors (from Tom DeLay to Jack Abramoff) came to define the GOP agenda, and the biggest issues facing middle America, from rising health-care costs to growing socioeconomic immobility, went unaddressed. The Bush administration's push for Social Security reform was a disaster. Their proposals weren't bad as policy, but they massively misjudged the political climate, and Bush squandered all of his second-term capital on a reform that never even came up for a vote.

Q: What's the likelihood of the GOP adopting your proposals? Which is the most likely to gain acceptance and which the least likely?

Family-friendly tax reform is something you could very easily see Republican politicians adopting over the next few election cycles. Our anti-poverty proposals are probably the least likely to be adopted-both because a program of wage subsidies would be more expensive than the current budget picture would allow, and because most of the beneficiaries aren't Republican voters (at least not yet!), which reduces the political incentive for the GOP to get serious about the issue, and about poverty in general.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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