To be clear, I don’t think voting against a Democrat given the current crop of Republicans, even the supposedly moderate ones, is ever a good idea. But, like it or not, when you crap on your base repeatedly, it has a tendency to stay home (boldface mine):
The last panel on Saturday afternoon was a conversation I led with Massachusetts Teachers Association president Barbara Madeloni and California Teachers Association president Eric Heins….
Barbara Madeloni shared an interesting perspective that might help us here in California:
One of the reasons that Charlie Baker is the governor of Massachusetts is that the Democrats had put forward a candidate who, about six-seven weeks out… made disparaging remarks about Massachusetts public schools relative to charter schools. Talk about relationships – I was driving and I was like “What the hell were you thinking? You don’t understand how pissed off my members are about this. You’re gonna take this back right away!” It was crazy. She lost by only about 14,000 votes, and I’ll tell you, I hope my members didn’t vote for her. Because we can’t be supporting candidates who think they can say things like that and then expect the 110,000 members of the Massachusetts Teachers Association to vote for them. We got where we are because we kept voting for people like that. What I say about Besty DeVos is the Democrats walked us to the abyss that is Betsy DeVos. And now they’re all, like, “Oh No, we didn’t mean vouchers! We just meant charter schools.” That’s nonsense. We gotta call them on that, and we gotta plant a flag for what we really want, and make them come and stand with us. And stop thinking that we have to do their bidding.
Build the movement. When I was elected president of the MTA, everybody thought is was nonsense, and they thought everything that I said was nonsense. I was an insurgent candidate,. I wasn’t supposed to win, I came out of nowhere. The people in the statehouse were like “who’s she? She’s gonna lose. The whisper campaign was “she’s here for two years. She’s gone.” I didn’t care. I didn’t want to go to the statehouse anyway. We won the charter question. (Measure 2 on the state ballot last year.) And let me tell you, they look at me differently. And I don’t care, particularly, but they’re like, “Oh, that’s power.” They wanted me to think I had personal power. I wanted them to know I had movement power.
I doubt very many teachers voted for Baker over Coakley over this. But how many decided not to vote? How many decided that Coakley would get their votes but not a campaign contribution? How many decided that they would enjoy a fall weekend, rather than knocking on doors for the Democrats? And, as we’ve noted before, teachers have families and friends. They notice when teachers are considered to be the problem.
While Madeloni is discussing Massachusetts, this is a national problem, since Democrats–at least the New Democrat wing–embraced school ‘reform’ and denigrated teachers (and these reforms often made their working conditions–and students’ learning conditions–worse). What did professional Democrats think would happen? Admittedly, most people when they hear the word unions think of blue-collar manufacturers, but teachers unions are the largest mass organization Democrats have left–and one that is disproportionately female and non-white. So the obvious road to Democratic victory was to shit all over them, while garnering education reform campaign donations. Or something.
Would I have voted against Coakley? No, but take people for granted long enough, while screwing them over, and there is a predictable outcome, especially at the margins. As we say around here, people have to like this crap.
Perhaps the Democratic leadership is starting to figure this out? We’ll return to this topic
tomorrow next week.