January 30, 2008
There are a couple of ways that you might categorize people in politics. One brand is characterized by idealists who believe in what they are doing, advocating for the principles in which they believe. The second brand isn’t as concerned with principle; to them idealism is a means to personal power, a way to speak to people looking for a leader. They are especially sanctimonious about their beliefs and are particularly quick to denounce those who disagree with them as being morally bankrupt crooks. It is why they are attracted to religion; it gives them justification.
Specifically I’m talking about Michael Farris, the president of Patrick Henry College (PHC). The college was conceived of in 2000 as an organization allegedly meant to help homeschoolers. Sadly it has deviated from that mission, and more people are coming to a conclusion that I have been at for years.
The defense of homeschooling isn’t why Farris instituted the college, nor is it why he is engaged in the homeschool movement. What he did was understand the energy potential of people who were willing to take their children out of the public system of education, and he wanted to utilize that energy to his own ends. He wanted to have a personal voice in Washington.
A sister organization to PHC is the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), an organization intended to advocate for the rights of homeschoolers. Farris is its board chairman. HSLDA-PAC is the wing of the organization legally able to engage in political activity, and which recently endorsed Huckabee for president.
The director of the PAC group, Ned Ryun, wasn’t informed of the endorsement until after the decision was made by HSLDA board members. As a consequence he resigned, and had this to say:
“I brought up the fact that we do not endorse in primaries unless there is a clear-cut conservative vs. liberal match-up. I was told by Mike Smith, President of HSLDA, that these were extraordinary circumstances, which I heard as really meaning Smith and the HSLDA board members lacked the courage to say no to Farris.”
If Farris is concerned with the right to homeschool, it is not evident. When Huckabee was the governor of Arkansas, he effectively opposed homeschooling. He signed House Bill 1724 in to law in 1999. According to HSLDA’s statement at the time,
“Arkansas is now one of only 12 states to impose a deadline for beginning home schooling or requiring parents to provide advance notice to public school officials of their decision to do so. Because of this restriction, parents who encounter intolerable conditions at the public school, such as imminent danger to the safety or welfare of their child, will have to wait at least 14 days before withdrawing the child to begin home schooling or else face truancy charges for unexcused absences during the 14-day waiting period.”
Their argument today is that it was the lesser of two evils. Regardless, that does nothing to justify Huckabee’s signing it into law. At the very least, he could have abstained from signing. HSLDA tried to minimize its opposition to the bill by saying they “could not support” it “because we always stand on the side of homeschool freedom and against government regulation.”
So when it comes to meaningless debate, they cannot compromise. But when it comes time to evaluate the candidates who will have the power to make change happen, when it comes time to decide whether to keep or lose his power, Farris would prefer to keep it. It doesn’t matter whether the candidate is with us or against us.
Ryun made the comment that Huckabee was “playing the evangelical bumpkin card,” assuming, “sadly enough, rightfully so, that if you say Jesus, Christ, God, show the cross, and on every occasion use terms of faith, then you can win the evangelical vote.”
That is true, and it is why Huckabee is a fitting match for Farris. Huckabee doesn’t have principles regarding government; he just wants to make sure that it is “Christian,” and he defines that term within the context of his own beliefs. And Farris doesn’t seem to be especially concerned with the right to homeschool; he just wants to ensure that if homeschooling is to be quashed, that his values will be enforced in the public schools.
Policy, they say, is irrelevant, because their values are good, and they’re in control. I believe that nothing could be further from the truth. History will be the judge.
“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing… Ye shall know them by their fruits… Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” – Matthew 7:15-18
© 2008 Rudy Takala – All Rights Reserved
Rudy Takala is 19 years old and is the chairman of Minnesota’s Pine County Republicans. He was homeschooled for nine years, and is currently a senior at Hamline University.
He has been involved in Republican politics since 1998; he served as a campaign manager for a state Senate candidate in 2006, and was offered a position as campaign manager for a U.S. Congressional candidate later in the year. His first column appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune at the age of 14. Since then, his columns have appeared on a number of websites, including NewsWithViews.com, WorldNetDaily and many others.
Rudy hopes for a career in which he is able to continue antagonizing proponents of the State. Currently, he spends his free time laboring over a book concerning the American government’s school system.