I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, at Erick Erickson’s Gathering this weekend. We’re at the point where I wanted to hear from many of the presidential candidates who will be on the debate stage next, and I wanted to hear from them in person.
One of the reasons I wanted to specifically hear from them at this event was the format. It’s conversational, this on-stage interview between Erickson and the candidates, but it’s also completely devoid of the biggest distraction of the campaign cycle.
There hasn’t been a single question directly about Trump or his indictments. And the results are telling.
I mentioned this in my radio show podcast yesterday, but I wanted to dive a bit more into it for y’all because there is a lot of noise surrounding many of the other topics. From Hunter Biden to Trump to the economy, there is a lot for the average voter to chew on. The economy is the issue that is first and foremost in the minds of voters, and that hasn’t changed, given these candidates spent time talking about it on stage.
And this weekend isn’t the first time.
But what has been most telling is the issue that four of the candidates have mentioned so far, with three of them really hammering it: Education.
Tim Scott proudly stood by his stance on school choice, and given the backdrop of his campaign’s theme of American opportunity, it tied in perfectly. Ron DeSantis focused on parental rights, especially in education, without getting too caught up in the woke part of the cultural fight. He very carefully noted that teachers and Democrats don’t want parents involved in education. And Chris Christie, most people have forgotten by now, famously tackled the issue of teachers’ unions when he first became Governor of New Jersey. He is still adamant that we need to fix our education system.
Nikki Haley, too, referenced education. As did Mike Pence. Vivek Ramaswamy, who is set to go on stage later this morning (as of publication time), will likely have something to say about it as well.
I do not think it’s any coincidence that the candidates are directing the conversation to education issues right now. Education was a top motivator in places where Republicans made the biggest gains in 2022. Parents care deeply about the opportunities their kids need in order to succeed academically, and the Democrats have been openly at war with parents on the issue.
“We understand what parents are going through,” DeSantis said in the clip above. “We definitely are sensitive to the rights of parents.” And that’s exactly what parents are looking for.
But beyond the political policy here, think about what the Democrats and the teachers’ unions are really asking for here: They don’t want parents to be involved with their kids’ schooling. One of the biggest threats to a child’s academic success, however, is lack of parental involvement. It’s one of the biggest complaints teachers have when dealing with problematic students. The parents who show up to parent-teacher conferences are (usually) not the parents you need to see most.
So what the Democrats and unions are pushing for is a further crippling of our kids’ education, and they are pushing for it at a time when we’re seeing American students fall further and further behind. What’s more, all of this is happening while teachers are already leaving the classroom in droves. It’s simply not sustainable.
But that’s the Democratic Party at present. The people who need the most structure (students) and the people who need the most support (teachers) don’t get it. Education is, to them, a state system of churning out worker bees who can’t think critically and are told to just accept what they are being taught, and you had better not question it, or you and your parents might be labeled domestic terrorists.
There’s something else to note in all of this, too, and it’s something I might expand on a bit later: The people who are here, listening to these candidates, are not Very Online people. There is no discussion of the latest Twitter spat. There’s barely any talk of Trump. These are people who are in search of something you can’t find online, and it’s something each of the candidates on the stage have brought up this weekend.
They are searching for hope. And, talking to them, it sounds like they’ve found it.