Hammerin’ The Hamiltonians

Jumping on the Hamilton Project seems the order of the day. Most prominently in today’s WaPo Harold Meyerson raises several criticisms. In terms of the history lesson he offers, while needling the Hamiltonians for choosing Alexander Hamilton as their namesake, Meyerson neglects to mention that, especially when it comes to education, today’s “progressive” movement not infrequently sound like rabid anti-federalists.

Second, and related, Meyerson says that Hamilton, “feared the common people, dismissed their capacity for self-government and supported rule by elites instead.” Hmmm….fair enough, though the context of the times matters a lot in considering all of this. As a more contemporary matter that sounds not unlike a pithy analysis of a big reason Dems lost (failed to win outright) the last two presidential elections…

Finally, education specific, though he doesn’t like the Hamiltonians taking on the teachers’ unions, let’s hope there is a more spirited defense to be mounted than the brittle one Meyerson offers here, which amounts to saying that it’s bad to pick on them. Could be indicative of the Zeitgeist…Anyway, to help, here are three defenses: (1) If you think that schools are underfunded now, think where they’d be without the teachers’ unions over the last few decades (2) Teachers are not-infrequently treated capriciously, especially in large urban districts, and the unions are the ones who put out those fires/defend their interests (3) the teachers’ unions are one of the most stable presences on the education scene. Of course, all of these defenses also carry costs of their own.

In the edublogs, Ed Knows Policy takes on the Hamiltonians (and everyone) on the education component of it. And, so does Russo. Joe Williams speculated recently that Nina Rees should watch her backside but then speculated Russo had that covered (and it looks like Nina can take care of herself in any event!). Instead, perhaps it’s Hamiltonian Robert Gordon who ought to watch out…this is Russo’s second broadside!

More seriously, not sure it’s fair to ding the Hamiltonians for taking on ideas that are not “new” per se. Ideas need hosts and it’s not as though these ideas are yet in wide circulation, especially in Democratic circles, now. I’ve been working on these ideas for several years and I’m pleased to see this effort and the attention it is getting. Besides, shouldn’t all ideas be welcomed right now anyway? Not like we’ve got the political or substantive problems licked!

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