Saturday, March 28, 2015

Presidential Magical Misery Tour

Man, do I not look forward to the upcoming Presidential race. Or the already-started race. Whatever you want to call it.

On the GOP side, we've already got Ted Cruz deciding to distinguish himself by getting out ahead of the Silly Pack. That's fine. The sooner he burns out, the better for America.

But the Jebster's irony-drenched and self-awareness-parched campaign has been chugging along for a while, including his nifty Super-PAC, the Right to Rise. This PAC is established to "support candidates who want to restore the promise of America with a positive, conservative vision of reform and renewal." Apparently those candidates are all wrapped up in just one guy-- the Jebbinator, Bush III, the Littlest Shrub of All. What do they absolutely and unironically believe?

We believe passionately that the Right to Rise — to move up the income ladder based on merit, hard work and earned success — is the central moral promise of American economic life. 

Because if there's anything that the Bush story tells us, it's that anybody born into riches and power can climb the ladder of ivy league connections to a position of even more wealth and power. Jeb's staff the completely independent operators of Right to Rise do acknowledge that the playing field no longer seems to be level and that the recovery did not raise all boats.

We believe the income gap is real, but that only conservative principles can solve it by removing the barriers to upward mobility. We will celebrate success and risk-taking, protect liberty, cherish free enterprise, strengthen our national defense, embrace the energy revolution, fix our broken and obsolete immigration system, and give all children a better future by transforming our education system through choice, high standards and accountability. We will strive to put our fiscal house back in order, re-limit government and ensure that America is a welcoming society.

So there's Jebby's plan, comfortingly vague except for the doubling down on reformster principles. But Jeb is stuck between two wings of the GOP-- the GOP well-paid-bv-corporate-interests wing and the still-attached-to-conservative-values wing. As a teacher, I'm not excited.

I am no more excited about the Democratic side. We're saying that the nomination is in Hillary Clinton's bag (hmmm... have I heard this before??) and the press is trying hard to shape a narrative in which she represents a struggle between the wings of the Democratic party- the Democratic well-paid-for-by-corporate-interests wing and the still-attached-to-liberal-values wing. You see how this is shaping up. The New York Times portrays her as torn between teachers and Democratic hedge fund guys and Democrats for Education Reform, a group the New York Times describes as "left-leaning" and which I would describe as about as Democratic as the Harvard Boat Club.

Leonie Haimson (of Class Size Matters) pulled up this quote from DFER honcho Whitney Tilson's film manifesto, "A Right Denied," and it should be pulled out every time DFER appears. It explains how DFER decided to be Democrats.

“The real problem, politically, was not the Republican party, it was the Democratic party. So it dawned on us, over the course of six months or a year, that it had to be an inside job. The main obstacle to education reform was moving the Democratic party, and it had to be Democrats who did it, it had to be an inside job. So that was the thesis behind the organization. And the name – and the name was critical – we get a lot of flack for the name. You know, “Why are you Democrats for education reform? That’s very exclusionary. I mean, certainly there are Republicans in favor of education reform.” And we said, “We agree.” In fact, our natural allies, in many cases, are Republicans on this crusade, but the problem is not Republicans. We don’t need to convert the Republican party to our point of view…”

I'm not looking for Hillary to align herself with teachers. Maybe with the national teachers union, but of course we're still trying to get NEA and AFT to align more tightly with teachers, so that's an issue.

It was Hillary Clinton who way back in the day received the infamous Mark Tucker letter outlining how public education could be retooled into a cradle-to-career pipeline, managed by the government and devoted to tracking and training children for their proper place in society. Now, if we held everyone accountable for every letter they ever received, I'd be a sweepstake winner many times over. But that was in 1998, and neither Clinton has exactly stepped up to say, "No, that's just crazy talk and wrong." Clinton's support for traditional US public education has been pretty much invisible.

That may seem like picking at the nits, but here's the thing-- the last guy I voted for said all sorts of wonderful things about public education and about schools and teachers, and that all turned out to be baloney. I vote for Barrack Obama once with enthusiasm and once while holding my nose, and nothing that happened after either vote convinced me that I would have been any worse off somehow putting George Bush II in the White House.

My distrust of Democrats at this point is huge, enormous, massive, a yawning chasm into which we could dump every beanie baby ever manufactured sealed in its own Iowa-sized vacuum container. The Democrat slogan has become, "You probably figure the GOP will be absolutely terrible, so we're banking that you'll vote for us because we're only horrible."

I've never not voted in an election (any election) and I hate the idea of throwing away a symbolic vote, but I have truly had it. I will never again vote for a national candidate who can't convince me that s/he will support public education. And it's already looking as if I'll have to do a lot of searching for 2016.


  1. My husband and I had to vote for the Green Party last election because we just couldn't vote for a man who was destroying our lives. I know, that is like voting Republican, but we had to do it. Kind of like I have to encourage parents to opt their kids out. If the numbers grow, maybe someone will notice and respond.

    1. I did the same thing- it was literally the only party that had any sort of education platform I could support. I disagree that it's like throwing your vote away, though- if the Green party were to get the sort of support the Libertarian party gets, perhaps the Dems would start listening to them like the Repubs do the Tea Party.

  2. And the kids are watching...and a message is being sent loudly and clearly:
    the presidency is for sale. It has always been that way, but now there is no shame in admitting it and flaunting it. How can so many supposedly educated, intelligent people be so foolish and irresponsible (and dare I say it, corrupt)? I sound naïve asking that question, but I just can't believe that we are dealing with so much raw ignorance and stupidity. This is proof that egotism squashes common sense.

  3. I voted for Jersey Jazzman instead of Cory Booker in our last Senate race here in NJ. Robert Reich keeps making noises about at least a symbolic run off on his Facebook page. I'd vote for him in a heartbeat. But I agree with you: Hillary is a "meh" candidate at best, and we need Democrats who actually get the issues facing public education and are willing to go to the mat to support children and true public education. Whitney Tilsen's anti-union rhetoric really can't be the new future of the Democratic party.

  4. I am almost where you are, Peter. Democrats and Republicans differ in one very consequential way other than so-called "morality issues." They nominate very, very different people to lifetime appointments on the federal bench. That matters JUST enough that I will likely stay Democratic for the 2016 election.

    But at the level of Congress, governors, and mayors, I am looking at lot closer at who has BOUGHT the candidates than anything else. No more votes for the Cuomos of the world. No more votes for the Bookers. No more votes for the Emanuels. They are owned just as surely as the Walkers, the Inhofes, and the Christies are.