Contributor Post Created with Sketch. What’s the Conservative Sleeper Issue of 2016?—Troy Senik

 

I may have mentioned this before here on the site — I was recently reminded that I’ve been hanging around these parts for nearly three and a half years, matching herpes for both persistence and intrusiveness —but I’ve never forgotten a piece of trivia Ed Gillespie (then Counselor to President Bush) shared with a group of us speechwriters during the 2008 campaign: the single biggest fundraising issue for the RNC during that cycle — the one that could inevitably galvanize conservative checkbooks — was the Law of the Sea Treaty.

Despite the fact that it was virtually unknown to the press and the wider GOP establishment, the underlying issue of surrendering a chunk of national sovereignty lit a fire under the base. It’s forgotten now, but Mike Huckabee’s emphasis on the issue during the pre-primary period was one of the factors that shifted his campaign into high-gear. There was a limit, of course, to how far Huckabee could ride that one issue, but let us not forget that the feelings stirred up during that campaign would ultimately block the treaty’s adoption four years later.

During the recent Ricochet meetup in Charlotte, as talk turned to the possibility of Jeb Bush running for president in 2016, I floated a theory — essentially off the top of my head — that one of Bush’s difficulties might be that opposition to Common Core (which he supports) could play precisely the same role in 2016. Looking at the huge debate that’s erupted in the press this week after Louis C.K. went on an anti-CC tirade on Twitter, I’m only more convinced.

This is precisely the kind of issue that sneaks up on the political class; one that irks everyday Americans down in their bones, but that seems so obviously beneficent to managerial types as to not even merit serious debate (recall Secretary of Education Arne Duncan — usually one of the few sober figures in the Obama Administration — dismissing Common Core criticisms as the clucking of “white suburban moms”). 

What do you think? Is Common Core likely to be a sleeper issue in 2016? What other relatively minor issues could you see taking an outsized role in the fight for the GOP nomination. 

There are 51 comments.

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  1. Richard O'Shea Coolidge

    Public school teachers (My wife and son-in-law, for instance) hate common core.

    With the teachers union, and public school teachers in general, being reliably democrat votes, it may be possible to turn a sizable chunk of them with reasoned opposition to an issue they already hate.

    • #1
    • May 2, 2014, at 4:52 PM PDT
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  2. Nick Stuart Inactive

    The people concerned about Common Core are already going to vote Republican. And if they were seriously concerned about their children’s education, they wouldn’t have them in government schools to begin with.

    In 2016 (as in 2014) issues really aren’t going to matter as much as whether the Republicans are actually prepared to engage the Democrats. It will be the metaphorical equivalent of Okinawa, and if the Republicans think they can win with Marquis of Queensbury decorum they’re going to lose.

    • #2
    • May 2, 2014, at 4:54 PM PDT
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  3. Troy Senik Contributor
    Troy Senik

    Nick Stuart:

    The people concerned about Common Core are already going to vote Republican. 

     That’s the point. This is about issues within the Republican primary.

    • #3
    • May 2, 2014, at 5:05 PM PDT
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  4. TKC1101 Inactive

    Filling the Skills gap for American employers. Getting the 92 million long term unemployed back to work with real incentives and real skill training. Encourage small employers to run training coops for real skills they WILL hire. A real private sector run program incentivized by the government. 

    • #4
    • May 2, 2014, at 5:32 PM PDT
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  5. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I understand the general nature of the Common Core debate, but am sadly lacking in specifics. Can anyone point to detailed studies of the problems with it? Has Heritage, for example, weighed in?

    • #5
    • May 2, 2014, at 5:35 PM PDT
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  6. Crabby Appleton Inactive

    It might be a sleeper to the pols, the monarchist press, and the pundits but I’ll wager it’s not a sleeper among the aware and emotionally engaged electorate whose children are trapped in the public education system.

    • #6
    • May 2, 2014, at 5:40 PM PDT
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  7. Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLC Member
    Roberto, Crusty Old Timer LLCJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    This is precisely the kind of issue that sneaks up on the political class; one that irks everyday Americans… but that seems so obviously beneficent to managerial types… 

    I like this summation of your point. Not so much in relation to Common Core but the idea that there are issues which can passionately enthuse the base that the Washington crowd is utterly oblivious too. 

    Common Core may be a sleeper issue such as this, I’m surprised at the number of individuals I encounter who bring it up, however you brought to mind what I think is another. Did anyone else enjoy the Winter Soldier? It has now apparently grossed $645.2M an incredible total which dwarfs the amount the previous Captain America film made. 

    The President seems insistent that we are not at war yet it appears he has approved the execution of over 2000 terrorists via drone with information drawn from the ubiquitous surveillance the NSA is conducting. 

    Do I need to draw out the parallel themes? If we are not at war then what is this? I suspect Rand Paul will have an issue here that will surprise a great many of Washington insiders. 

    • #7
    • May 2, 2014, at 6:24 PM PDT
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  8. flownover Member

    Sorry but this all feels like small beer. 
    How can we find issues that actually overwhelm the media that is poised to bury the GOP . The GOP could nominate Jesus and he could show up and they would still concoct a bevy of headlines that could sway the public . 
    Our problems are big , the cliff is high, and the stakes are even higher . Common core makes no difference at all to people who only worry if their child gets home alive or not stoned . 
    The mobilization and/ or voter misrepresentation is rampant, we barely have the cojones to push that matter, and we look quizzically at their ability to mobilize. 
    Big skunk works need to happen . Smart can beat cunning, but can it beat crooked ?

    • #8
    • May 2, 2014, at 6:32 PM PDT
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  9. Nick Stuart Inactive

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Nick Stuart:

    The people concerned about Common Core are already going to vote Republican.

    That’s the point. This is about issues within the Republican primary.

     Quite right. Apologies for not reading all the way to the end of your post. 

    Jeb Bush and Mike Pence have already blown off a foot stepping on this landmine. Maybe they’ll be able to hop through the primary season, we’ll wait & see.

    • #9
    • May 2, 2014, at 6:48 PM PDT
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  10. Nathaniel Wright Member
    Nathaniel WrightJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    As much as I think that many people who are opposed to Common Core lack a genuine knowledge of what Common Core actually is, I think it will be a huge issue. I’ve been watching the CC develop over the past few years – particularly with regard to the Social Studies – and I’m not concerned with the “Big Government” issues around the curriculum.

    What I have been concerned with is the rent seeking by testing companies and text book providers who are attempting to secure a place in the market by shaping the curriculum. Add to that the fact that Common Core expects analytical answers – in the Language Arts – but that the tests are multiple choice and this is a non-starter.

    • #10
    • May 2, 2014, at 6:55 PM PDT
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  11. rico Inactive

    I welcome any sleeper issue that works against a Bush or a Christie, but (going slightly off-topic), my hope is that choosing the right candidate will outweigh any single issue—think ‘big-picture’.

    The GOP will have a real opportunity to reach out beyond the party in 2016. Many non-committed voters will be looking for an alternative to the Democrats, given what will become ever more obvious over time:
    * the ongoing lack of vigor in the economy,
    * the abundantly-evident failure of administrative policies to provide solutions, and
    * the ethically bankrupt nature of Democrat leaders throughout the administration.
    Hillary will forgo an easy nomination, aware that her ethical profile cannot be defended in November. Voters will shun candidates such as Biden (more of the same) and Warren (far left), and look hopefully toward an alternative, as Democrat policies will have been entirely discredited among undecided voters. The GOP should provide that alternative—an articulate (doesn’t scare people) conservative with clearly developed conservative economic solutions to win their votes. The goal should be to win the undecided voter without going to the squishy political middle. Republicans should nominate accordingly.

    • #11
    • May 2, 2014, at 7:40 PM PDT
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  12. Trinity Waters Inactive

    In spite of not having a Heritage document to buttress an argument, it is clear from first principles that having a Federally controlled intrusion into our basic local education framework is essentially socialistic and enables more control by the “elites”, which is in scare quotes by design, as they are truly not elite, just power grubbing.

    • #12
    • May 2, 2014, at 8:14 PM PDT
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  13. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    You know what would get me excited? Someone promising to undo EO 10988 allowing public employees to unionize. The only thing that might appeal to me more would be a promise to ban automatic withholding. Everything else is small ball.

    Seriously. I get depressed that Republicans always seem to be looking for incremental changes that do almost nothing to stem the leftist tide. This “repeal and replace” mantra makes me heartsick. I prefer “drive a stake through its heart and bury it in a vat of garlic” and “implement a market approach that prohibits any federal agent from coming between you and your doctor.” 

    But, back to the PEUs, the middle class may be shrinking in America, but the real change is its composition. Public “servants” are overpaid and are displacing private sector workers in the middle class. This is a huge problem. We’re growing the apparatchik class. What are Republicans prepared to do about it?

    • #13
    • May 2, 2014, at 8:25 PM PDT
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  14. sawatdeeka Member
    sawatdeekaJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nathaniel Wright:

    What I have been concerned with is the rent seeking by testing companies and text book providers who are attempting to secure a place in the market by shaping the curriculum. Add to that the fact that Common Core expects analytical answers – in the Language Arts – but that the tests are multiple choice and this is a non-starter.

     Nathaniel: You nailed it. These are the real issues.

    • #14
    • May 2, 2014, at 9:20 PM PDT
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  15. Probable Cause Inactive

    Somebody somewhere wrote that CC teaches kids to become little social justice advocates. Messing with my children is large beer. I do see it being a potential wedge issue in the R primaries.

    Then in the general, the R nominee should run on a “don’t touch my junk” platform.

    • #15
    • May 2, 2014, at 11:17 PM PDT
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  16. Leigh Member

    Nathaniel Wright:

    As much as I think that many people who are opposed to Common Core lack a genuine knowledge of what Common Core actually is, I think it will be a huge issue. I’ve been watching the CC develop over the past few years – particularly with regard to the Social Studies – and I’m not concerned with the “Big Government” issues around the curriculum.

    What I have been concerned with is the rent seeking by testing companies and text book providers who are attempting to secure a place in the market by shaping the curriculum….

     Some of the rhetoric is overblown. But the explicit philosophy is that every student should learn the same content at the same grade level in Alaska and Wisconsin and South Carolina, inner city, suburban, and rural. Now it’s supposed to be only the “core,” but the tests rule, as we well know.

    I disagree with that philosophy, for multiple reasons, apart from any government involvement. If the test consortia, Pearson, and Arne Duncan were out of the picture I would still be uncomfortable with it.

    • #16
    • May 3, 2014, at 5:07 AM PDT
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  17. Profile Photo Member

    Immigration. I do not think DC is totally aware of how much people are against it and many on our side are trying to generate that faux air of consensus thereby coming to believe it actually exists.

    • #17
    • May 3, 2014, at 7:15 AM PDT
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  18. Nathaniel Wright Member
    Nathaniel WrightJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leigh has fairly accurately describe a fair criticism against common core. I’m concerned with a “uniformity” of content as much as anyone and think that Leigh is a great example of an ideal advocate for Troy’s “Sleeper” attack. Tom, on the other hand, comes from a factually inaccurate position. Common Core is not “Federal,” it is more Articles of Confederation than Constitution…even in the means of its adoption. 

    If you want to know what Common Core actually entails, I recommend visiting their website and examining the actual content. I think there is a lot to criticize here, but the critique should be rooted in fact not supposition.

    Here’s an example of an actual standard:

    CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.11-12.4
    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).

    The real risk comes from the text book providers who will determine the readings and how you individual states will limit these very broad standards.

    • #18
    • May 3, 2014, at 10:29 AM PDT
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  19. PsychLynne Inactive

    Thanks, Troy for the post. It’s something I hadn’t really thought about. I do think Common Core could well be the issue. It’s novel (education but not charters and vouchers), and possibly poorly defined in the public mind, but with significant implications.

    Nathaniel is right, it’s the testing companies that are making a huge mess of this, which is just an example of how federal policies (even if it’s not mandatory) discourage innovation and promote cronyism.

    • #19
    • May 3, 2014, at 11:24 AM PDT
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  20. Leigh Member

    Nathaniel Wright:

    Leigh has fairly accurately describe a fair criticism against common core… Tom, on the other hand, comes from a factually inaccurate position. Common Core is not “Federal,” it is more Articles of Confederation than Constitution…

     I actually thought mine was an incredibly lazy comment because I didn’t explain why uniformity of content is bad…

    But while I think Tom overstates it, I do have a problem with the federal involvement, though it’s old news. Race to the Top put real pressure on states to go along, and without that some states now having second thoughts would probably have rushed a little less quickly into implementation.

     While I suppose there might be areas where it is appropriate (say border security) I am generally deeply uncomfortable with the idea of the federal government using federal funds (or the witholding thereof) in a carrot-and-stick approach to get the states to do what they want them to do. Obviously it’s not outright coercion and I believe Texas is doing just fine despite defying Arne Duncan. But it’s not healthy for the Republic. Many Common Core supporters I’ve read seem oblivious to that concern.

    • #20
    • May 3, 2014, at 11:38 AM PDT
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  21. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Probable Cause:

    Somebody somewhere wrote that CC teaches kids to become little social justice advocates. Messing with my children is large beer. I do see it being a potential wedge issue in the R primaries.

    Then in the general, the R nominee should run on a “don’t touch my junk” platform.

    Totally agree with the “hands off my kids” message. However, you (presumably) have a choice not to send your kids to government run schools by either homeschooling or sending them to private schools. You have no choice over the lavish wages and benefits paid to public workers, except by voting for a Republican who says, “Enough already! The public sector is too damn big and it’s eating the seed corn from the private sector and future generations.” And then does something about it, like abolishing public employee unions.

    Workers should not get to vote for who they’re bargaining with for compensation, against the interests of the people. It’s proven to be a recipe for cronyism and corruption. There are no representatives of the people at the bargaining table with public sector unions. 

    That’s my drum and I’m going to keep beating it.

    • #21
    • May 3, 2014, at 11:43 AM PDT
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  22. Plato's Retweet Inactive

    Western Chauvinist:

    You know what would get me excited? Someone promising to undo EO 10988 allowing public employees to unionize.

    Yes, but don’t campaign on it, or mention it. Just get elected, then do it. Also nominate Supreme Court justices willing to overturn the Roosevelt Eras precedents which turned the Commerce Clause into a loophole the size of today’s federal government.

    2016, like most elections since 1960, will be an image election, not an issue election.

    We need a candidate with a personality appealing enough to get elected, and beating inside that candidate must be a fierce heart for undoing the monstrosities created by statists like LBJ and Obama.

    • #22
    • May 3, 2014, at 11:53 AM PDT
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  23. Leigh Member

    Western Chauvinist:

    Workers should not get to vote for who they’re bargaining with for compensation, against the interests of the people. It’s proven to be a recipe for cronyism and corruption. There are no representatives of the people at the bargaining table with public sector unions.

    That’s my drum and I’m going to keep beating it.

     So… that puts you on the Walker 2016 team?

    • #23
    • May 3, 2014, at 11:57 AM PDT
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  24. Western Chauvinist Member
    Western ChauvinistJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Leigh:

    Western Chauvinist:

    Workers should not get to vote for who they’re bargaining with for compensation, against the interests of the people. It’s proven to be a recipe for cronyism and corruption. There are no representatives of the people at the bargaining table with public sector unions.

    That’s my drum and I’m going to keep beating it.

    So… that puts you on the Walker 2016 team?

     Dang. I gave it away.

    • #24
    • May 3, 2014, at 11:59 AM PDT
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  25. Leigh Member

    To answer the original question, what about the President’s plan to give up control of the Internet, or whatever exactly he’s doing? I haven’t had time to figure it out.

    That would seem likely to get the same response from the same people who opened their pocketbooks to oppose the Law of the Sea Treaty.

    (And since 2008 went the way it did, presumably Troy isn’t suggesting the sleeper issue will necessarily sweep us to a 49-state win: just that it is much more important than it seems.)

    • #25
    • May 3, 2014, at 12:01 PM PDT
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  26. Commodore BTC Inactive

    The sleeper issue is crony capitalism and corporate welfare. Which candidate will be the first to call for an end to corporate bailouts, guaranteed loans, and subsidies?

    Any candidate that does this will lose out on millions in corporate donations to their campaigns, and have the full power of the Chamber of Commerce turned against them.

    But it’s also the best way to rebrand the party and distinguish oneself from the other nominees.

    • #26
    • May 3, 2014, at 2:21 PM PDT
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  27. rico Inactive

    Butters:

    The sleeper issue is crony capitalism and corporate welfare. Which candidate will be the first to call for an end to corporate bailouts, guaranteed loans, and subsidies?

    Any candidate that does this will lose out on millions in corporate donations to their campaigns, and have the full power of the Chamber of Commerce turned against them.

    But it’s also the best way to rebrand the party and distinguish oneself from the other nominees.

     Perfect issue!
    A candidate as outlined in #11 utilizing this issue would not only energize the conservative base, but could conceivably gain voter support outside the Republican party, thereby improving conservatives’ influence within the party vis-a-vis establishment Republicans.

    • #27
    • May 3, 2014, at 3:17 PM PDT
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  28. Illiniguy Member
    IlliniguyJoined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    tabula rasa:

    I understand the general nature of the Common Core debate, but am sadly lacking in specifics. Can anyone point to detailed studies of the problems with it? Has Heritage, for example, weighed in?

    I’m making Common Core a centerpiece of my campaign for the Illinois General Assembly, because I’m of the opinion that it has to be fought on the State, rather than the Federal level. I’ve put quite a few posts on my campaign website containing links to much of the information you asked about. The video series by Jane Robbins is quite good, and Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute has written extensively on the subject; she’s probably the leading authority on the issue. Indiana has recently opted out of Common Core, and other states are moving in that direction. But getting rid of Common Core is one thing, States must provide an alternative to the top down nature of the Common Core standards. I’ve talked to a lot of teachers in my district who feel the same way.

    • #28
    • May 3, 2014, at 10:12 PM PDT
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  29. Fred Cole Member

    I have a few things to say in no particular order:
    1. I read (maybe it was in one of Lou Cannon’s books) that Reagan picked up on how big of an issue the student, um, misbehavoirs, at the various UC campuses was long before it showed up in the polls. It is a rare and smart politician who keeps his ear to the ground and picks up on issues like that before they get mainstreamed.
    2. I live in upstate New York. 75% of the people I’m friends with on Facebook fall into one of two categories, people who live in upstate NY or family members who are teachers (and they’re all pinkos). I see this Common Core thing all over Facebook. That tells me its a thing that could have big appeal in the general.
    3. Troy, I love ya, baby, but Jeb Bush’s problem is that his last name is Bush and I’m not the only one who is all set on presidents named Bush for this lifetime.

    • #29
    • May 4, 2014, at 4:28 AM PDT
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  30. Fred Cole Member

    4. The danger is that this public resistance to CC will get mixed in with other issues and then the left can paint opposition to CC with a broad there-they-go-those-right-wing-crazies brush. If it gets successfully painted that way, as a general election issue, it’ll lose 75% of its potency.

    • #30
    • May 4, 2014, at 4:29 AM PDT
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