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Are “Tea Parties” Overthrowing Conservatism?
Richard Keith "Dick Armey" is a former U.S. Representative (R Texas, 1985-2003) and the current chairman of conservative nonprofit group FreedomWorks. Along with former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, he helped author the "Contract with America" that ushered in major Republican victories in the 1994 midterm elections. He subsequently served as House Majority Leader from 1995 through 2003. In his chairmanship with FreedomWorks, Armey has been an instrumental supporter of the nationwide "Tea Party" protests that began in early 2009. He is the author of several books on politics and economics, including "The Freedom Revolution" and "Armey's Axioms."
Question: Is the “Tea Party” movement factionalizing the GOP?\r\n
Dick Armey: No. Not at all. I think a lot of people don't understand this at all. First of all, understand that in the state of New York there has been a very active Conservative Party for decades. It elected Senator Buckley in the 70's. And if you look at the history of Congressional races in New York and probably a lot of other races I've seen it through two Congressional races, the Conservative Party oftentimes nominates a person. Historically, they've been the good sports that have been willing to step back and throw their support to the Republicans in the interest of stopping a more liberal Democrat from getting into office.\r\n
Now what happened in New York 23rd, was a handful of people got into a backroom, and nominated a Democrat. And the first thing we heard, for example in my shop at Freedomworks, is from our grassroots activists in the north country in New York. They said, "The Republicans have just lost this race. This woman can't possibly win this race. She would not have won a Republican primary."\r\n
She was too liberal. There's no way she would have won a Republican primary.\r\n
So, what happened was, the Conservative Party said, "Oh, my gosh, the Republicans are about to lose this race." And they fielded a candidate. So, what happened was, there were three candidates from three different parties in the race, two liberals in the Republican and Democrat nominees, and one Conservative.\r\n
The Conservative candidate, although he was a first-time candidate, quite naive and innocent in the ways of politics, he grew so fast in his standing with the electorate, that she got knocked out of the race. Once she got knocked out of the race, what did she do? She made a deal with the White House and Chuck Schumer and endorsed the Democrat.\r\n
So, the first validation that I see in this is, our grassroots activists called that correctly, didn't they? They did in fact nominate a Democrat. And the Conservative Party failed to win that election.\r\n
Now, this is a short-term victory for the Republicans. They can celebrate it all they want because a year from now, the Democrats will lose that seat because the Republicans will have an open primary, they'll nominate a conservative Republican, or at least a middle of the road Republican, and that person will win the race back from the Democrat. So, that Democrat will only sit in that office for about a year.\r\n
And when that happens, the conservative party will once again play their role of being in support of their principles and working the Republican nominee a little bit more to their perspective on public policy and then helping him beat the Democrat.\r\n
Question: Was the candidate “too liberal” for the party fiscally or socially?\r\n
Dick Armey: No, that was a very – social issues were so much – I was up there. I mean, socialists were just simply not a part of the debate in that race. The Democrat candidate, when it was just the two of them in the race, the Democrat was running against her as a big spender. And so, her first transgression was, she was for big budgets, she was for cap and trade, she was for card check, the mandatory union plan that denied workers a secret ballot. On economic issues – and I saw no discussion of social issues in that race. On economic issues, she was so liberal that even the Democrat was running against her for being too liberal.\r\n
Question: How can the Tea Party movement help Republicans?\r\n
Dick Armey: Well, at some point, everybody who is seeking office, or wanting to hold office, at some point they have to respond to the voting constituency whose votes they want. And right now, the Republicans who are in office are kind of confused about that. This Tea Party Movement which is what you see right now is most visible at grassroots conservatism, is a thousand points of entrepreneurial light in advocating small government constructivism has popped up all over the country and it is the most genuine, largest grassroots movement I've ever seen on particularly the economic issues.\r\n
The officeholders are starting, "Oh, I get it. If I want to be reelected, I better be responsive to what these guys are telling me." That's what all the energy – there’s no greater source of energy in public policy discourse and politics today then the small government conservatives.\r\n
The orthodox Republican Party is dispirited and confused and going through a massive identity crisis where they're trying to basically ask the questions, "Who are we, and what are we doing here?" The Democrats are inflicted with probably the most severe case of buyer's remorse they've ever had, even worse than with the Clintons in '93 and '94, and they have no energy to bring to the field. So, the field is right now is dominated by the extremely big tent of small government conservatism, which has Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Libertarians, Evangelicals, people of all stripes and color and religious orientation, and they're all happily joined in resistance to a growth in the power of the state that they find frightening for their personal liberties.
Recorded on November 11, 2009
Interviewed by Austin Allen
Tea Party backer Dick Armey believes the movement that ousted a Republican Congressional candidate is actually resolving the party's "massive identity crisis."
Higher education faces challenges that are unlike any other industry. What path will ASU, and universities like ASU, take in a post-COVID world?
- Everywhere you turn, the idea that coronavirus has brought on a "new normal" is present and true. But for higher education, COVID-19 exposes a long list of pernicious old problems more than it presents new problems.
- It was widely known, yet ignored, that digital instruction must be embraced. When combined with traditional, in-person teaching, it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale.
- COVID-19 has forced institutions to understand that far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted.
What conditions of the new normal were already appreciated widely?<p>First, we understand that higher education is unique among industries. Some industries are governed by markets. Others are run by governments. Most operate under the influence of both markets and governments. And then there's higher education. Higher education as an "industry" involves public, private, and for-profit universities operating at small, medium, large, and now massive scales. Some higher education industry actors are intense specialists; others are adept generalists. Some are fantastically wealthy; others are tragically poor. Some are embedded in large cities; others are carefully situated near farms and frontiers.</p> <p>These differences demonstrate just some of the complexities that shape higher education. Still, we understand that change in the industry is underway, and we must be active in directing it. Yet because of higher education's unique (and sometimes vexing) operational and structural conditions, many of the lessons from change management and the science of industrial transformation are only applicable in limited or highly modified ways. For evidence of this, one can look at various perspectives, including those that we have offered, on such topics as <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/blogs/rethinking-higher-education/lessons-disruption" target="_blank">disruption</a>, <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/20/education/learning/education-technology.html" target="_blank">technology management</a>, and so-called "<a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/sites/default/server_files/media/Excerpt_IHESpecialReport_Growing-Role-of-Mergers-in-Higher-Ed.pdf" target="_blank">mergers and acquisitions</a>" in higher education. In each of these spaces, the "market forces" and "market rules" for higher education are different than they are in business, or even in government. This has always been the case and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p> <p>Second, with so much excitement about innovation in higher education, we sometimes lose sight of the fact that students are—and should remain—the core cause for innovation. Higher education's capacity to absorb new ideas is strong. But the ideas that endure are those designed to benefit students, and therefore society. This is important to remember because not all innovations are designed with students in mind. The recent history of innovation in higher education includes several cautionary tales of what can happen when institutional interests—or worse, <a href="https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/02/09/apollos-new-owners-seek-fresh-start-beleaguered-company" target="_blank">shareholder</a> interests—are placed above student well-being.</p>
Photo: Getty Images<p>Third, it is abundantly apparent that universities must leverage technology to increase educational quality and access. The rapid shift to delivering an education that complies with social distancing guidelines speaks volumes about the adaptability of higher education institutions, but this transition has also posed unique difficulties for colleges and universities that had been slow to adopt digital education. The last decade has shown that online education, implemented effectively, can meet or even surpass the quality of in-person <a href="https://link-springer-com.ezproxy1.lib.asu.edu/article/10.1007/s10639-019-10027-z" target="_blank">instruction</a>.</p><p>Digital instruction, broadly defined, leverages online capabilities and integrates adaptive learning methodologies, predictive analytics, and innovations in instructional design to enable increased student engagement, personalized learning experiences, and improved learning outcomes. The ability of these technologies to transcend geographic barriers and to shrink the marginal cost of educating additional students makes them essential for delivering education at scale.</p><p>As a bonus, and it is no small thing given that they are the core cause for innovation, students embrace and enjoy digital instruction. It is their preference to learn in a format that leverages technology. This should not be a surprise; it is now how we live in all facets of life.</p><p>Still, we have only barely begun to conceive of the impact digital education will have. For example, emerging virtual and augmented reality technologies that facilitate interactive, hands-on learning will transform the way that learners acquire and apply new knowledge. Technology-enabled learning cannot replace the traditional college experience or ensure the survival of any specific college, but it can enhance student learning outcomes at scale. This has always been the case, and it is made more obvious by COVID-19.</p>
What conditions of the new normal were emerging suspicions?<p>Our collective thinking about the role of institutional or university-to-university collaboration and networking has benefitted from a new clarity in light of COVID-19. We now recognize more than ever that colleges and universities must work together to ensure that the American higher education system is resilient and sufficiently robust to meet the needs of students and their families.</p> <p>In recent weeks, various commentators have suggested that higher education will face a wave of institutional <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/scott-galloway-predicts-colleges-will-close-due-to-pandemic-2020-5" target="_blank">closures</a> and consolidations and that large institutions with significant online instruction capacity will become dominant.</p> <p>While ASU is the largest public university in the United States by enrollment and among the most well-equipped in online education, we strongly oppose "let them fail" mindsets. The strength of American higher education relies on its institutional diversity, and on the ability of colleges and universities to meet the needs of their local communities and educate local students. The needs of learners are highly individualized, demanding a wide range of options to accommodate the aspirations and learning styles of every kind of student. Education will become less relevant and meaningful to students, and less responsive to local needs, if institutions of higher learning are allowed to fail. </p> <p>Preventing this outcome demands that colleges and universities work together to establish greater capacity for remote, distributed education. This will help institutions with fewer resources adapt to our new normal and continue to fulfill their mission of serving students, their families, and their communities. Many had suspected that collaboration and networking were preferable over letting vulnerable colleges fail. COVID-19's new normal seems to be confirming this.</p>
President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address during the Arizona State University graduation ceremony at Sun Devil Stadium May 13, 2009 in Tempe, Arizona. Over 65,000 people attended the graduation.
Photo by Joshua Lott/Getty Images<p>A second condition of the new normal that many had suspected to be true in recent years is the limited role that any one university or type of university can play as an exemplar to universities more broadly. For decades, the evolution of higher education has been shaped by the widespread imitation of a small number of elite universities. Most public research universities could benefit from replicating Berkeley or Michigan. Most small private colleges did well by replicating Williams or Swarthmore. And all universities paid close attention to Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Yale. It is not an exaggeration to say that the logic of replication has guided the evolution of higher education for centuries, both in the US and abroad.</p><p>Only recently have we been able to move beyond replication to new strategies of change, and COVID-19 has confirmed the legitimacy of doing so. For example, cases such as <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2020/03/10/harvard-moves-classes-online-advises-students-stay-home-after-spring-break-response-covid-19/" target="_blank">Harvard's</a> eviction of students over the course of less than one week or <a href="https://www.nhregister.com/news/coronavirus/article/Mayor-New-Haven-asks-for-coronavirus-help-Yale-15162606.php" target="_blank">Yale's apparent reluctance</a> to work with the city of New Haven, highlight that even higher education's legacy gold standards have limits and weaknesses. We are hopeful that the new normal will include a more active and earnest recognition that we need many types of universities. We think the new normal invites us to rethink the very nature of "gold standards" for higher education.</p>
A graduate student protests MIT's rejection of some evacuation exemption requests.
Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images<p>Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we had started to suspect and now understand that America's colleges and universities are among the many institutions of democracy and civil society that are, by their very design, incapable of being sufficiently responsive to the full spectrum of modern challenges and opportunities they face. Far too many higher education outcomes are determined by a student's family income, and in the context of COVID-19 this means that lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color will be disproportionately afflicted. And without new designs, we can expect postsecondary success for these same students to be as elusive in the new normal, as it was in the <a href="http://pellinstitute.org/indicators/reports_2019.shtml" target="_blank">old normal</a>. This is not just because some universities fail to sufficiently recognize and engage the promise of diversity, this is because few universities have been designed from the outset to effectively serve the unique needs of lower-income students, first-generation students and students of color.</p>
Where can the new normal take us?<p>As colleges and universities face the difficult realities of adapting to COVID-19, they also face an opportunity to rethink their operations and designs in order to respond to social needs with greater agility, adopt technology that enables education to be delivered at scale, and collaborate with each other in order to maintain the dynamism and resilience of the American higher education system.</p> <p>COVID-19 raises questions about the relevance, the quality, and the accessibility of higher education—and these are the same challenges higher education has been grappling with for years. </p> <p>ASU has been able to rapidly adapt to the present circumstances because we have spent nearly two decades not just anticipating but <em>driving</em> innovation in higher education. We have adopted a <a href="https://www.asu.edu/about/charter-mission-and-values" target="_blank">charter</a> that formalizes our definition of success in terms of "who we include and how they succeed" rather than "<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/10/17/forget-varsity-blues-madness-lets-talk-about-students-who-cant-afford-college/" target="_blank">who we exclude</a>." We adopted an entrepreneurial <a href="https://president.asu.edu/read/higher-logic" target="_blank">operating model</a> that moves at the speed of technological and social change. We have launched initiatives such as <a href="https://www.instride.com/how-it-works/" target="_blank">InStride</a>, a platform for delivering continuing education to learners already in the workforce. We developed our own robust technological capabilities in ASU <a href="https://edplus.asu.edu/" target="_blank">EdPlus</a>, a hub for research and development in digital learning that, even before the current crisis, allowed us to serve more than 45,000 fully online students. We have also created partnerships with other forward-thinking institutions in order to mutually strengthen our capabilities for educational accessibility and quality; this includes our role in co-founding the <a href="https://theuia.org/" target="_blank">University Innovation Alliance</a>, a consortium of 11 public research universities that share data and resources to serve students at scale. </p> <p>For ASU, and universities like ASU, the "new normal" of a post-COVID world looks surprisingly like the world we already knew was necessary. Our record breaking summer 2020 <a href="https://asunow.asu.edu/20200519-sun-devil-life-summer-enrollment-sets-asu-record" target="_blank">enrollment</a> speaks to this. What COVID demonstrates is that we were already headed in the right direction and necessitates that we continue forward with new intensity and, we hope, with more partners. In fact, rather than "new normal" we might just say, it's "go time." </p>
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