Monday, July 18, 2016

From AFT 2016--Resistance is Futile--Prepare to Be Assimilated--Or Maybe Moved a Little

I'm here at the AFT Convention in Minneapolis. When Norm Scott and I arrived, we were met by several unionists from Chicago and Boston. They were very excited about our modest victory in the UFT. They, of course, have had more significant victories.

They're kind of in awe of the machine that runs the UFT. They can't believe it when I tell them retirees control around half of the votes in the UFT. (In fact, in 2013 they represented over half the voters. In 2016 they were a little less.) How can retirees vote on who gets to negotiate contracts for working members? Do they care about what working teachers go through?

I still can't believe we placed that little crack in the monolith that is UFT Unity. We worked very hard for around 16 months, in and out of the MORE Caucus, and managed to get the word out enough to squeak out a victory. We were very fortunate that New Action finally came to its senses and worked with us. We would not have been able to pull this off without them.

In a few hours Hillary is gonna be here, and it's quite clear that she is the star of this particular convention. Not everyone is enthusiastically on board just yet:

Of course that was just a rehearsal. I will try to tweet the speech as it comes, and if you want to read it, I'm @TeacherArthurG.

Regular readers of this blog know that I'm not in love with Hillary. I have not been persuaded at all by friends of Hillary who've beseeched me to vote for her. Usually these efforts at persuasion entail telling me how stupid I am and that I don't understand high school civics.

I don't expect Hillary to change my mind today, but I am coming around for two reasons. The second best reason came from Fred Klonsky, who lives in Illinois. Like me, Fred could vote third party and have no effect whatsoever on the general. But Fred wants to pile on against the odious Donald Trump.

The best reason I've seen to vote for Hillary came from two conversations I had on Facebook. I was bemoaning Trump's vile bigotry, particularly his decision to ban Muslims. Several people argued with me. One defended the Japanese Internment, which I thought one of the most shameful episodes in American History. Then he said we'd banned German and Japanese immigrants during World War II. I thought the fact that we were actually at war with those countries was a fairly good defense. Banning Muslims would be almost waging war against a major religion.

Another Facebook friend said that Trump no longer took that position, and that he now only wanted to ban people from certain countries. That didn't much impress me. The thing I really don't like about Hillary is that she talked school closings. Yeah, I know, she explained it, it was a mistake, it was out of context, whatever. The fact that her brain could formulate the words that came out of her mouth, saying she would not keep any school open that wasn't above average, well, that was too much for me.

On the other hand, you have Donald Trump, who likes right to work, who has actually ruined lives of working people in Atlantic City and elsewhere. You have this guy who wants to bounce countries from NATO if they don't pay, and if they don't pay all what they've owed in the past. On the other hand, he's personally had multiple bankruptcies and bounced back to the point he may be President. He wants to do something similar with our national debt, and that's pretty odd, since one thing the US has never done is default on our debts.

But the ban Muslim thing is beyond the pale, more beyond even than teacher issues I hold dear. For a nations Presidential candidate to stereotype an entire religion is an atrocity. For folks to tell me it's a good idea to practice active discrimination is even worse.

Those are the people who are now pushing me toward voting for Hillary and piling up against the execrable bigot Donald Trump.
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