Time magazine begged me to participate in yesterday’s “What’s a Conservative?” symposium with Ann Coulter, Ken Blackwell, Grover Norquist, etc. But I said, “No! No, Time magazine! I’ll do this at The Daily Caller.” So here I am to respond. Time posed three questions: “What does a conservative believe?” “Is there a crisis in the conservative movement?” and “What’re the three most important action items for the next president?” I’ll leave the first two to conservatives (I’m a Manhattan moderate). But here are three things that the next president should do if he wants to make a real difference:
1.) Cut the national debt. It’s obvious that we have no intention of paying it. That’s one of the reasons for last summer’s credit downgrade. We’re in a default state of default. The next president has to do what this one won’t — level with the public about what a mess we’re in and do something about it. That means both raising taxes and cutting spending. I’m not talking about the Buffett Rule either. I’m talking about an across-the-board tax hike to send the message to the next generation that we’re not pawning our $15 trillion debt off on them. Accounting tricks won’t work. We need a detailed and practical plan to cut at least $2 trillion during the next administration. And if the president can’t come up with one, he should be gone in 2016.
2.) Reform immigration. A few of Time’s contributors mentioned immigration reform. Ann Coulter, for instance, wants to see the next president repeal the 1965 Immigration Act, which made it harder for Anglo-Saxons to move here. And that’s a good start. But it has to go further than that. Nobody likes illegal immigration. But there are millions of illegal immigrants working at regular jobs and even paying income tax, according to the IRS. That’s something that 40+ percent of American households don’t do. It makes no sense to send those people home. The next president should give illegal immigrants a path to citizenship — without deportation. It was wrong for them to break the law. But we want people who want to be here. I know a kid who swam across the Rio Grande naked at age 12 to make it to Texas. He went on to be a Fulbright scholar.
3.) Create a national school curriculum and grading rubric through the Department of Education. Okay, this is the least “conservative” of the three proposals that I’m putting forward here. But it’s important, believe me. We’ve spent the past three decades bemoaning the uselessness of the Department of Education and the past one salivating over the possible dismantling of No Child Left Behind. But the fact is that schools aren’t working. In Europe, a lot of kids grow up learning English in addition to their native languages. American kids, on the other hand, take language classes but are almost never bilingual. A lot of them seem to have no reading comprehension skills whatsoever but still manage to get A’s and B’s in English. And most take math from kindergarten to the twelfth grade without ever learning how to make a budget. What, then, is the point of education?
Dorian Davis is a former MTV HITS star turned libertarian writer. He’s been published in Business Week, The New York Daily News, XY & more. He’s an NYU graduate and National Journalism Center alum. He teaches journalism at Marymount Manhattan College.