Connecticut teacher-voters are facing the Choice Between Evils for the gubernatorial race, and the AFT isn't making things any easier.
ICYMI, Connecticut voters face a choice between current Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and GOP challenger Tom Foley. This problematic because Malloy is co-president with NY Governor Andrew Cuomo of the So What If I'm a Democrat; Public Schools and Their Stupid Teachers Can Smooch My Tuchus Club. Put another way, if being a Democratic supporter of public education were a crime, it would be impossible to convict Malloy.
As it turns out, Connecticut voters actually have a third choice. Jonathan Pelto, whose blog Wait! What? has long served as an encyclopedic chronicle of Malloy's misbehavior, has mounted a third party challenge. And union leaders would rather you didn't hear about it.
At the AFL-CIO gathering, it qualified as news that Randi Weingarten actually mentioned Pelto's name. Barred from speaking and blown off by CT teacher union leaders, Pelto has not exactly been welcomed as a voice in the political conversation. Said the head of Connecticut's AFL-CIO, "Third party candidates don't win. They spoil."
The spoiler label always strikes me as an admission that the political system is seriously messed up. After all, we're not arguing that a spoiler's platform is too ridiculous to be taken seriously. The spoiler label is a tacit admission that the candidate will be taken seriously, that in fact the spoiler candidate is speaking to real concerns that the "real" candidate is not.
Put another way, labeling someone a spoiler is an admission that your "real" candidate cannot win on his own merit. And if that's your problem, maybe you'd better address it. If Malloy can only win the election by sweeping up the "Well, he's better than voting for my dog" vote, then here's a hot flash for you-- he sucks.
The proper response to a credible threat from a third party "spoiler" candidate is to say, "Damn-- this guys speaks to some concerns that a lot of people apparently share. Maybe we should address those concerns." The proper response is not, "Somebody shut that sumbitch up!"
I get the concerns here. Dems are claiming that Foley would Wisconsinize Connecticut and crush labor laws left and right. But, again, if your candidate can only beat him if you basically force a bunch of people to vote against him, you have problems, serious problems, huge problems that cannot be papered over with a highly manufactured election win.
The AFL-CIO did not even wring any concessions from Malloy in exchange for their fealty. At least Working Families in NY got a promise from Cuomo to act as if he's sort of a Democrat, a pledge that he honored for almost a full 24 hours after commandeering their endorsement.
Sooner or later this kind of political charade needs to end. Believe it or not, I am not actually a hard-core die-hard union guy, but doggone it-- if unions want to address their ever-dwindling membership and support, perhaps it might help to present themselves as something other than an extension of the political establishment, with no apparent function except to dole out endorsements and photo ops in exchange for, well, a sort of promise from politicians to consider punching union workers in the face instead of in the throat (and the chance for union leaders to be Really Important People).
Look, I'm not in Connecticut. I don't know the territory. Maybe votes for Pelto will make Foley governor and bring on the apocalypse. But I've read more than enough to know that when it comes to education, Malloy sucks, sucks like an industrial shop-vac powered by a hundred black holes. Pro-VAM, pro-CCSS, pro-charters, anti-teacher, anti-tenure, pro-testing-- is there anything about public education that he's not dead wrong about?
I just dream of the day when a candidate waves his Democratic Party badge at teachers, followed by a song and dance entitled "Watch Out For the Scary Republican Over There- Booga Booga" and teachers reply, "No, sorry. That's not enough."
So, good luck to Jonathan Pelto. May he be a huge pain in the ass throughout this campaign.