By Michael Shank

Will Pennsylvania ever produce another Republican leader on par with Thaddeus Stevens (“‘Lincoln’ lays bare messy reality of process,” Sunday)? Stevens’ adamant promotion of equality and opportunity contrasts starkly with the present state GOP. Whether it is the voter-ID law that would disproportionately impact communities of color, or the push to replace public schools with charter schools, we have clearly regressed from the civil rights standards set by Stevens.

Stevens would be appalled at the state’s educational achievement gap, especially the differences between the high school graduation rate for whites vs. Hispanics, African Americans, and Native Americans. He also would be steaming mad at the recent report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and the Economic Policy Institute that shows the substantial growth in income inequality in Pennsylvania over the last decade.

The state’s economic competitiveness is predicated on its ability to ensure an educated, skilled, and thriving workforce; a healthy middle class; and fewer poor people on the government dole. None of that is possible as long as the income inequality rates are rising and educational opportunity remains elusive for many minorities.

It behooves the state GOP to take a lesson from Stevens, for the good of all citizens, for the sake of the economy, and for the survival of the party.

Michael Shank, Washington, D.C., michael.john.shank (at)