EDITORIAL: Conservatives veer off high road

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

The American educational system, flawed as it is, is still operating.

District 150 is still limping along.

The meltdown anticipated by so many conservative parents when President Obama addressed American school children last week did not occur.

American children exposed to the president’s speech are still defiant, still climbing trees, skinning knees, still studying, and, maybe, just maybe thinking more about picking up a book. 

The whole controversy about the president’s speech Sept. 8 was just another demonstration of the extreme polarization of American politics — something which serves no purpose other than to divide the country.

Differing political philosophies is the American way. It has worked here for centuries, and will continue to work.

Polarization, however, to the point that we suspect the president is trying to inflict propaganda on our children with a speech is another, especially when the speech is released in advance of its delivery and no propaganda is found.

Any conservative, after reading the speech, should come to the conclusion that Obama’s speech resonated with Republican themes.

In the speech was talk about responsibility, opportunity and self-reliance, all of which are hallowed Republican themes.

See for yourself.

“(A)t the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world — and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed,” Obama said.

“And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.”

Those lines could have easily come from a speech delivered by President Reagan or either of the presidents Bush.

“Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide,” Obama said. 

In the next portion of his speech Obama made some remarks that could have been uttered by Caterpillar executives, a group that defines conservative.

“What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future,” Obama said. “You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math .... You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy. We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that — if you quit on school — you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.”

Wait a minute, that exact sentiment has been expressed in Peoria by Caterpillar executives time and time again.

Obama has had his share of gaffes — the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Van Jones to name a couple — igniting valid conservative fears.

Conservative concerns are valid.

But, conservatives need not react with calls of conspiracy to every move made by Obama. This was not one of those times when conservatives owned the high road.