The recent flurry of positive results regarding Prop. 227 has now led to my invitation to a national Fox News debate segment on the subject (The Edge with Paula Zahn) which will be airing this month at various times. It is especially interesting that the producers are apparently having some difficulty persuading a representation from the National Association of Bilingual Educators to participate as my opponent. If NABE is no longer eager to publicly defend bilingual education, who will?
Also, the current issue of US News contains the article below by Michael Barone—editor of the Almanac of American Politics and one of Washington’s most astute political observers—describing the growing evidence of success and momentum behind Prop. 227. In particular, the statements by Gov. Gray Davis indicate that he is continuing to shrewdly and rapidly reposition himself to the right of the national Republicans on this powerful and important issue.
Since Davis is one of America’s highest ranking Democrats, and chairman of Al Gore’s California campaign, this raises some interesting possibilities. All my extensive national and state polling demonstrates the extraordinary strength of the English issue, and the quite remarkable foolishness of the Bush campaign in opposing English and instead supporting “bilingual education.” I would suspect that if a Democratic presidential candidate who supported teaching children English ran against a Republican candidate who supported teaching children Spanish, and made it a major campaign issue, the Democrat would win a landslide among white Republican voters, as well as about 90% of Democrats and independents.
Probably 95% of America’s prominent Latino political figures are partisan Democrats. Almost none of these individuals privately believe in “bilingual” but they have long been too intimidated by activists to voice their true feelings. However, nearly all are very eager to defeat the Republicans, take back the House, and put Gore in the White House. If Gore endorsed “English in the schools” (based on the emerging evidence from California) and were backed in his new stance by the Latino Democratic leadership, he would incur almost no downside risk and would be placing the Bush campaign in a very tight spot. Since the Democrats are smart and the Republicans are dumb, this scenario is sadly more probable than a Republican endorsement.
The Republicans are notoriously reluctant to support teaching immigrant children English on the grounds that it might be considered “racist.” I doubt they will change this view until they are being regularly denounced by partisan Latino Democrats as racists for REFUSING to support teaching immigrant children English.
- In plain English by Michael Barone
U.S. News, Monday, May 29, 2000