Sunday, July 15, 2018

AFT Discovers Bernie Sanders Two Years Too Late

I'm really astonished by the volume of tweets I see from Pittsburgh quoting Bernie Sanders. Two years ago those of us who supported him were "Bernie Bros," a bunch of thugs who had no regard for the sensible middle. Note that none of us were female, evidently, since "Bernie Sisters" doesn't connote the same threatening aura. That's actually sexism on the part of the group that was stereotyping us. Go figure.

But yes, two years after Donald Trump became President, Bernie Sanders is a mythical figure whose ideas are to be lauded.

Bernie was speaking that very same truth back on 2016. He had the same optimism and the same ideas. In fact, Bernie was advocating for Medicare for all back when Hillary Clinton was telling us it would never, ever happen. Hillary was ridiculing Bernie's ideas for free college, saying the Trump children would use it, as though Trump would send his kids to state schools. Fifteen bucks an hour was too much to ask, thought Hillary.

At the time, I thought well, there might be merit to their arguments. They pointed back to 1972, when the Democrats ran George McGovern and got crushed in a landslide. Of course, we now know that everything McGovern said about the Vietnam War was correct, and even Nixon seemed to get on board as he extracted us from that quagmire. More importantly, we now know what a horrible error it was to run a candidate whose strongest calling card was being "not Trump."

There are other things AFT is wrong about. Close to home, UFT is mistaken to exclude every single voice that saw what Sanders was saying was true back in 2016. While it's good that we're now applauding Sanders, every AFT rep in Minnesota was compelled to follow the company line that "Bernie Bros" were bad.

It's nice that Hillary gave a speech, but endorsing her was likely the worst decision our union has ever made. It was done early, and there was talk of a survey. Nonetheless I never saw the survey, I have no idea what it contained, and I don't know a single person who took it. It was supposed to be a smart decision to endorse early. I guess it was supposed to be a smart decision to extract no preconditions for said endorsement.

Yet teachers all over the country were then and are now reeling from the nonsense known as Race to the Top. That's what pushed all this unnecessary, ludicrous and hurtful testing. That's what enabled the junk science ratings taking place all over the country. Now I still like Sanders, and he's still saying things that need to be heard.

But if we are to survive as unionists, we need to open up and pay more than lip service. We need to endorse and encourage politicians who support union and education. We need to stop settling for compromised mediocrity like Hillary Clinton. We need to stop saying this is the best we can do, so let's go with it.

Donald Trump is living proof that this is about the worst philosophy we could have espoused. Going forward, if we're going to embrace candidates, let's embrace those who support what Americans support, like universal health care, affordable college, and a living wage. And for goodness sake let's refrain from endorsing those who lecture us about "public charter schools," whatever they may be, which is precisely what Hillary did in 2016.
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