How often do you see campaign leaders to opposing presidential candidates writing a joint memo? I can’t remember seeing one before.
Jim Messina (D) and Kevin Madden (R) have broken that trend creatively and constructively in this joint memo. They argue that not only is early childhood a sphere in which there is strong electoral support – 60% of Republicans, 68% of Independents and 84% of Democrats – but that acting on this issue together can be proof to voters that lawmakers can work together on important issues of common concern. In effect, this is an opportunity to do good, and to restore trust.
In addition to restoring trust, early childhood interventions can actually “tangibly improve the lives of American families.” This is not just an area of common interest; it is one that can demonstrably improve health, education, and community.
What Madden and Messina don’t point out is that this is not merely a policy issue. It is one that requires action from virtually every sector of our shared life: family, neighbors, education, health care, and public policy. When lawmakers take policy action on early childhood, they need not alienate populists who believe passionately in street level action. Both are important, and both are necessary.
In like manner, new policies need not necessarily expand government programs, and thereby inflame those who are troubled by the scope and cost of big government. Wise policy can facilitate the efforts of families, foundations, preschools, early intervention programs and others who are already doing the important first-person work of equipping parents and supporting children.
This is an era of golden opportunity for early childhood. May our lawmakers seize it together.