Peter Greene has a genius for taking complicated ideas and boiling them down to their essence in language that everyone can understand. This post is a classic example of that genius. Others have written entire books trying to explain what he says concisely here.

In the recent writings about school choice, pro and con, Peter Greene was especially affronted by a statement from Kevin Chavous, who works for Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children. He said: It is school choice–directly empowering parents to choose the best educational environment for their child–that is the most democratic of ideas.

Greene responded:

Nope. Nope nope nopity nope. There are arguments to be made for parent choice, but “it’s the essence of democracy” is not one of them.

Democracy, even the sort-of-democracy practiced by the USA, is not about saying, “I want to make this personal choice, and I want everyone else to pay for it.”

Democracy is not saying you want a six-lane highway to run back the lane where only your house sits, so you get the rest of the taxpayers in your state to pay for it.

Democracy is not saying that since I want to have a police force that patrols my own house 24/7, I should have that police coverage and all local taxpayers should foot the bill.

Democracy is not “My fellow taxpayers have to pay for whatever I decide on my own that I want.”

He adds:

Choice fans often like to talk about the money following the child because “that money doesn’t belong to the school system.” And they have a point– it is not the school’s money. It is also not the family’s money. It is the taxpayers’ money, and the taxpayers have given it to support a system that will educate all students in the community through an institution managed by elected representatives of those taxpayers (when was the last time you saw a school board requirement that only parents can be elected).

And so, my fellow Americans, democracy consists of the consent of the governed, not the requirement to pay for whatever each person wants:

The “most democratic of ideas” is not that each individual gets to live in the Land of Do As You Please at public expense. Vouchers may be many things, but they are not remotely democratic.