October 13, 2000
By Julio C. Calderón
The political campaigns of today have broken down to an hour speech filled with 15-second sound bites. Great, or even mediocre, oratory is non-existent in the rhetoric. The mainstay is simply class warfare. The mythical "they" has finally been identified as the "rich."
The focus of the presidential campaigns is on the working poor and middle income voters.
The democrats want us to believe that every proposal by republicans to cut taxes or provide voters the choice of schools they want their children to attend, although basically good for these income levels, would only benefit the "rich."
Proposition 38, the school voucher initiative is one example. Every Mexican American family struggling to provide, at least one of their children, a parochial education, knows the sacrifices the rest of their family must endure. The tuitions to attend these schools impact their family resources... but they do it. Would the $4,000 the initiative gives make a difference to these families? You bet it would.
However, because the Bill Gates of this world would also get the benefits, you are being asked to vote against it. Would the $4,000 impact the wealthy of our state? You can bet it wouldn't.
The middle class that the opponents to Proposition 38 are defending, are not the families struggling to make sure their children are properly educated, they are the members of the California Teachers Association. They are the public school administrators, whose ranks and their salaries have grown faster than school buildings.
Another differentiating issue between the democratic and republican presidential nominees is giving taxpayers a break. Again, according to the democrats, giving taxpayers a tax cut would only benefit the "Rich."
If the federal government gave families or individuals making $25,000 to $60,000 a tax break of $1,500 to $2,000, the government would be giving the Bill Gates of the nation tax cuts in the millions. Would $2,000 make an impact on your life? Chances are that it would.
You earn $50,000; the Gates of nation make that in one minute of every day of the year. But you are asked to deny yourself a needed $2,000 to punish Bill Gates for his success. Do your really believe that denying you a tax break will truly impact the lifestyle of the "rich?" I believe not.
The passage of Proposition 38 will not bring the public school system to a halt. There is no way that religious schools, whether Catholic, Muslim, Christian, or Buddist, can absorb all the students required to leave the public school system to bring it down. People will not be taking their children out of East Los Angeles schools to take them to private schools in Beverly Hills.
According to Proposition 38's opponents, the vouchers will go to Charter Schools that are unregulated, not accountable to the state, no certification of teachers and no student accountability. Yet, the students who have been enrolled in Charter Schools, as in parochial schools, out perform their public school counter-parts in state tests. Charter Schools are like the private and parochial schools without two controlling factors; they have little state bureaucracy intervention; and they don't have the California Teachers' Association controlling their teachers. The other difference is their students learn.
But to punish the "rich" you cannot send your children to schools, after all, in religious-based schools, your children may have the same moral values you provide them at home, re-enforced in an educational setting.
Punishing the "rich" is an obsession of the democrats. Yet, without the "rich" they wouldn't have the millions and millions of dollars donated to their campaigns or party. Democrats vilify the "rich" publicly, while they suck up their money privately. The rich give, even though they know Democrats won't give them a tax break, because they know tax breaks, or the lack of one, will make no difference to their life-style.
I, for one, am going to vote to give my children the opportunity to send my grandchildren to better schools, or leave them in the public schools as they may choose. I am also voting for my $2,000 tax break.
The difference between you and the "rich" is your vote. Whether you are Bill Gates earning $5 billion or Juan Hernandez earning $50,000 a year, you each have one vote. The voting booth is the great equalizer. Everyone else's station in life matters little when you step into that booth and pick up your weapon, the stickpin, and start punching holes on your ballot. It doesn't matter whether your hands are manicured or cracked and hardened from hard work, then is when you decide on whether your vote is for the good of the party or your family.
(Julio C. Calderón is a former television journalist, and past state/national president of the Mexican American Political Association [MAPA])