Traditional wisdom says to never meet your heroes. You’ll only discover they are not as great as you hoped. The Left might want to be careful of their heroes, as they might find out they are far more conservative than they realized.
Larry Powell has done something most would consider heroic. And despite traditional wisdom, there’s nothing about this man of humility and generosity to disappoint. Powell’s sacrificial act earned plenty of attention, because it is so rare today: He gave up over $800,000 of his own income to help cash-strapped schools in Fresno, California.
On August 31st, Powell retired as Fresno County superintendent of schools so that he could take back the same job the next day but with substantially less income. Powell’s salary and benefits package this past year was over $280,000. Now he will be do the same job for around $32,000 and no health insurance. That amount puts him at $10,000 less than a first year teacher in Fresno. Not only that, Powell has said he will donate the $32,000 to charity. Why would he do such a thing?
Powell simply said he wanted to help the school’s budget cuts and lead by example. He told one interviewer:
My wife and I are very well compensated. We’ve been very blessed. These are tight budget times in California for public schools. My wife and I thought, what can we do that might help change the dynamic in my particular area.
Powell will now have the freedom to use the money he gave up to pick and choose where to fund areas in the school system that are hurting the most. The district’s rules provide him with the freedom to slash through any red tape and rescue under-funded programs.
The Fresno superintendent appears humbled and surprised by the attention from the press. He rejects any claims that he is a hero. He simply wanted to help. Powell may also want to soon reject how many on the Left have decided to make him a poster boy for taxing the wealthy.
ThinkProgress picked up the story and many of their “top” commenters decided to use Powell to promote big tax increases. Shayla Walsh commented,
If the super rich paid their fare share in taxes imagine how great we could make this country! Powell is a hero. I wish there were more people in the world like Powell.
Powell was also heralded by other blogs and news sites on the Left like the Huffington Post, NPR, Daily Kos, AlterNet, and more. While many sites may not have mentioned raising taxes directly, they repeatedly used Powell as a reason to slam wealthy people. Gather.com said,
If just a few of our nation’s politicians and Wall Street personnel took this approach, our economy may actually be able to recover.
But the Left missed something pretty interesting about Larry Powell. While many reported with elitist surprise that Powell is also an ordained Baptist minister, most failed to realize that the new Great Saint of Class Warfare is actually a conservative Republican. I could not find a single news source that identified Powell as a Republican. No one wanted to know that fact or wanted to report it. I sent Powell questions about his political views and have not heard from him, but a simple perusal into Powell’s political involvement and a look at his Facebook page paint a clear picture.
In 2010 Powell supported Jim Patterson for Congress. Patterson ran under the tagline “conservative Republican.” Powell has also supported conservative California state Senator Tony Strickland. And on Election Day 2010 Powell cared so much about conservative causes that he publicly posted on his Facebook page:
Powell’s Picks. Paul Dictos, Larry Aceves, Carly Fiorina, Yes on Q, Phil Larson, No on 19, Yes on 23, Mike Villines, Linda Halderman
Dictos, Aceves, Fiorina, Larsen, Villines, and Halderman are all Republicans and most are clearly conservative Republicans. “Q” was a bond measure supported by Fresno conservative Republicans. Proposition 19 was to legalize marijuana. Proposition 23 was about ending a “greenhouse gas” law. Powell was conservative down the line on every politician and every issue.
Additionally, Powell’s Facebook account shows that the superintendent has “liked” fan pages with titles like “Conservative Republican” and “Conservative.”
The Left would really turn on Powell if they knew he is a fan of the Traditional Values Coalition of California. That coalition proudly questions evolution, is attempting to stop children from pro-homosexual education in schools, and had called for government not to raise the debt ceiling. Such an organization is public enemy number one to the Left in California, and they would not have praised Powell if they knew of his support for this organization.
Powell has not once suggested that his sacrifice should set a precedent for raising taxes on the wealthy. He hasn’t used his platform to degrade Wall Street or bankers. His advice is simply to encourage those who have wealth to give:
I want to challenge other people who have been blessed, and have a lot of good things going on, are financially set; step up, let’s do something to encourage people in a tougher situation. We got a lot of good charities out there hurting right now. If people step up we can make a lot of difference in America.
That is not a message of the Democratic Party or their journalist supporters no matter how you try to parse it. The Left believes the government should take to give to others with less. True conservatives believe in creating wealth so that you can freely give, and Powell is the perfect example of a true conservative.