Politicians - Not Education and Not Public Opinion - Make Policy
THE FIRST MISTAKE
Misunderstanding the target
The first mistake most folks make when they set out on a good-faith crusade is to completely misunderstand their targets.
Sometimes, activists make the local newspaper or media the target. The thinking goes, "If we can just get them to understand the problem, things will change." It is fortunate that this is not correct, because the media in the U.S. is overwhelmingly committed to big government, gun control, and the supremacy of state-controlled education over parent controlled education.
The fact is newspapers cast no votes.
The national evening news controls no elections. If this were not true, Ronald Reagan would never have been President.
THE SECOND MISTAKE
Knowledge will make things right
An even more common mistake is to believe that the key to victory is education.
The "education is the key to political victory" theory claims that if we educate people as to the problem and the solution, then the elected officials will fall in line.
Polls show huge majorities of Americans are in favor of Parental Notification before a minor has an abortion. Yet the mere mention of the issue drives most politicians into fits of terror.
Similarly, 75% of Americans oppose forced-unionism and favor Right-to-Work, yet only 27 states have laws in support of this public opinion.
It is important to understand the two reasons why the education theory of politics is a mistake.
First, the theory assumes no opposing "education" effort. This is rarely the case.
Polls showed a majority in California favored education choice, yet the 1992 School Voucher Referendum lost 2-1 on election day. Why? Because the NEA-teachers' union bosses and pro-government-school-monopoly forces out-organized school choice forces, had a more focused message, and spent a lot more money.
The second, and more important, reason the "education is the key" theory fails lies in the nature of politics and politicians.