Jennifer Berkshire and Jack Schneider: Moms for Liberty Isn’t Going Anywhere
Jennfier Berkshire and Jack Schneider are hosts of the education podcast Have You Heard, as well as co-authors of Wolf at the Schoolhouse Door (and another one coming out next year). In a new piece for The Nation they warn against counting out Moms for Liberty just yet.
Yes, M4L just lost a lot of elections, showing their culture war battles are not popular.
So why continue running on a losing platform? One reason is the divide between moderates and hard-liners in the Republican party. While suburban voters may be rejecting efforts to purge books from libraries, restrict how history is taught, and curtail the rights of students, these issues still resonate deeply with the GOP base. Moreover, the right-wing media ecosystem is dedicated to amplifying tales of zealous Marxist teachers and out-of-control trans athletes. Combine those factors with a party primary structure that rewards extremism, and it means that these issues aren’t going anywhere.
But there’s another key reason Moms for Liberty and their allies are likely to remain a fixture in our politics. While the stated goal of these groups is to win seats on local school boards and push education policy in a more conservative direction, their institutional backers have always had a more expansive vision: dismantling public education. The Heritage Foundation, a key supporter of Moms for Liberty since its inception, sees relentless culture warring as key to its work peddling school vouchers. The more bitterness and resentment in and around the public schools that groups like Moms for Liberty can generate, the easier it will be to privatize education. The Manhattan Institute’s Christopher Rufo summed up this strategy quite frankly in a speech at Hillsdale College in 2021: “To get to universal school choice, you really need to operate from a premise of universal public school distrust.”