Politico is still pretending that Rand Paul's attempts at African-American outreach are anything more than a media fantasy. Rand Paul has multiple ties to white supremacist groups, so let's stop pretending that he actually cares about the African-American vote. What he does care about is media coverage that portrays him as a uniter, or at least someone who extends the olive branch to groups who are normally alienated by the Republican Party. But we do need to talk about one aspect of Paul's latest African-American outreach program: The terrible ideas he has for improving public education. Paul, who is a libertarian and not really a Republican, thinks the Khan Academy series of YouTube videos is the future of public education:
“If you have one person in the country who is, like, the best at explaining calculus, that person maybe should teach every calculus class in the country,” the senator said. “You’d still have local teachers to reinforce and try to explain and help the kids, but you’d have some of these extraordinary teachers teaching millions of people in the classroom.
“The mantra has always been, ‘Oh, we need 10 people in the classroom for everybody to learn,’” Paul continued. “Well, no, maybe actually you need the opposite: You need 2 million people in the classroom, and having a teacher that can communicate with all of them.”
Listen. I agree that Khan Academy is a great thing. Go, internet! But I, for one, can't learn a damn thing from an internet video. I learn better from books, or from a conversation. I don't think I'm alone in this. Paul's one-size-fits-all education "solution" is perfectly libertarian in that it doesn't recognize that every human is different. Some students need more attention than others. Some small amount of students would excel at this highly impersonal, factory approach to education, but I'm willing to bet that the majority of them would suffer.
I'm also intrigued by something else Paul says in the Politico article:
“I think like so many other venues, Republicans have just said, ‘Oh, this is where Democrats go,’ and the Democrats have dominated Silicon Valley,” he said. “But when I’m out there, I don’t hear that from people. I hear from people that, yeah, we’re actually much more fiscally conservative than the president, and we’re socially moderate. And then a lot of them will say, ‘Frankly, we’re more libertarian than we are Republican or Democrat.’"
I think Paul is exactly right about this, and I think he's smart to try to court the Silicon Valley vote. In fact, I dread the Republican who will one day win Silicon Valley's heart. That Republican will have a great shot at the presidency, and will have the possibility to drive the entire country so far to the right on business issues that the entire New Deal could be undone. I don't think Rand Paul is the candidate to woo tech libertarians to his side, but the fact that he can recognize this divide in a traditionally Democratic bloc is a bad sign.