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Howard Gardner
Scholar

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Don't ask me, I support it

Q: Having failed to stop health care reform, Republican leaders have vowed to make repealing it their rallying cry in the November elections. What lessons could they draw from political history and the experience of leaders in other fields?

Asking me to help the Republicans trash the new health care law is like asking James Carville to give sound advice to the Republicans, or Mary Matalin to offer wise counsel to the Democrats.

That said, precedents in national politics (the "Who lost China" debate in the 1950s; The 80th "Do Nothing" Congress in 1948) and in local politics (Harvard President Lawrence Summers after his ill-considered remarks about women's inability to do science) harbor the following lessons:

For Republicans: Get your story straight, avoid hypocrisy, and beware of targets encased in Teflon.

For Democrats: Focus, laser-like, on two messages: Security at work, and Security for your Medical Care.

By Howard Gardner

 |  March 23, 2010; 10:49 AM ET
Category:  Political leadership Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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Unless they're willing to a) apologize to their constituents for spending $3 trillion in Iraq, or b) stop griping about the cost of health care reform, the Republicans will find it difficult to avoid hypocrisy.

Unless they're willing to a) stop feigning concern that people will die from health care reform, or b) admit that their error in judgement cost hundreds of thousands of lives in Iraq, the Republicans will find it difficult to avoid hypocrisy.

Unless they're willing to a) stop the rhetoric about intrusive government, or b) admit that they intruded on citizen rights through the Patriot Act, the Republicans will find it difficult to avoid hypocrisy.

Unless they're willing to a) stop crying about federal control, or b) admit they circumvented the constitution by transferring war powers from the people to the Executive in order to conduct indefinite military operations in the Middle East, they will find it difficult to avoid hypocrisy.

Finally, both parties need to stop the hypocrisy of advocating for their constituents while using the phrase "The American People" - as if they speak on behalf of all Americans. Congress needs to recognize that they represent the people of their districts, and not the people of the United States. Imagine if John McCain were to say "The people of Arizona do not want health care reform". True or not, what a difference that would make! That one change alone will fix much of what's broken with our system.

Posted by: highland2 | March 23, 2010 12:08 PM
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