Saturday, November 12, 2016

My Election Day Heart Attack: Lessons for Moving Forward | gadflyonthewallblog

My Election Day Heart Attack: Lessons for Moving Forward | gadflyonthewallblog:

My Election Day Heart Attack: Lessons for Moving Forward

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I had a heart attack on Election Day.
This is not hyperbole.
I literally went to the polls, went to my doctor and then went to the hospital.
I didn’t know Donald Trump would win. Like most of us, I thought the nation would heave a big sigh, eat its vegetables and vote for Hillary Clinton.
But the election had been weighing on my mind (and apparently my body) for a long time.
How can we have narrowed it down to these two candidates nobody wants? How can these really be the only choices we get here in America? If either one of them wins, we all lose just in different ways.
So as I write this from my hospital bed, I’m left pondering lifestyle changes. I’ve got to start eating healthy. I need to exercise. I need to start taking care of myself.
But this kind of introspection is also what we need as a nation. After a disasterous election like the one we just had, the country is at least as sick as my ailing heart. We need to sit down with each other and decide how we’re going to move forward, how we’re going to prevent a national disaster like this from ever happening again.
Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
1) Admit Who’s to Blame
Donald Trump was just elected President of the United States. That is unbelievable! This clown, this buffoon is now the “leader of the free world.” How did this happen?
There are many factors leading up to this, but politically the blame must be placed with the Democratic Party.
They put up a candidate – Hillary Clinton – who could not beat someone as odious as Trunp. The people made it clear during the primary that they wanted a populous candidate, someone who wasn’t part of the establishment, yet the DNC ignored them. In fact, party elites did everything they could to tip the scales in Clinton’s favor.
We must always remember this lesson: when you rig the primary, you lose the general.
Bernie Sanders packed stadiums while Clinton could barely pull together rallies. He polled double digits ahead of Trump while Clinton was much less competitive. He would have beaten Trump in a landslide.
So if you want someone to blame, blame the DNC. Every party leader should immediately be fired. We must regain control of the party. If the Democrats refuse to be a real progressive institution, they will continue to lose and we will have to look elsewhere for political affiliation.
So admit the truth, it wasn’t third party voters with 3-4% of the vote, it wasn’t 45% of registered voters who didn’t show up at the polls because we gave them no one to vote for. It was the DNC. Period.
2) Understand the relationship between Race and Class
There are lots of folks out there blaming the election results on the racism of Trump voters. There are lots of folks blaming it on working class people choosing Trunp over Hillary.
They’re both right.
Racism has always been a tool of the rich in this country. It’s a way of throwing a bone to poor whites so they will support the 1%.
Don’t go after us as we cheat you out of a living wage, they say. We’ll give you whole swaths of people you can lord it over.
White privilege is the grease that keeps our economy running. Without it, poor whites might look to the rich and see how much they’re being swindled.
Heck yeah Trump ran as a racist. Heck yeah he ran as a populist. But the only thing poor whites will get from him is a license to be racist.  No jobs. No better wages. No better education. Just go ahead and subjugate brown people.
We must understand this relationship. As anti-racists we must also fight for the middle class. As activists for the middle class we must also fight racism. These are two sides of the same coin, and we must address both if we are ever to achieve real positive change.
3) Acknowledge Sexism
That a nation of grown adults would pick a boorish misogynist against an educated, intelligent woman speaks wonders. Hillary Clinton was far from my first choice,  but compared to Trump she was obviously less odious.
There is no doubt that sexism played a part in this. Even white women chose Trump over Clinton. So many of Trump’s policies were anti-woman. He was an admitted serial groper. He’s on trial for child rape!
And if that’s not enough, I can’t even recall how many times I heard women tell me that a person of their gender doesn’t belong in the Oval Office.
This is something we have to overcome, and frankly I think we are. Millennials are not nearly as sexist as the rest of us. As the population ages and today’s kids become tomorrow’s adults, I think sexism will be left behind. Trunp’s election is the last gasp of this antiquated prejudice. But we must recognize it for what it is.
4) Unions need to represent the rank and file
I’m a big supporter of labor unions, but in many cases they let us down in this election. Trump was no champion of the working stiff, but he got an aweful lot of union votes. Why?
Many of our unions prematurely endorsed Clinton even though she has a spotty relationship with them and didn’t support many natural union initiatives like the fight for 15.
On the other hand, Sanders was the union candidate. He was the natural fit, yet union leadership like the American Federation of Teacher’s Randi Weingarten offered to attack other unions that didn’t fall in line behind Clinton. Both big teachers unions, the AFT and the National Education Association endorsed Clinton early in the primary without truly democratically polling membership. It doesn’t matter if they broke by-laws or not. If unions really represent the rank and file, these leaders should be held responsible.
In short, we should fire leaders like Weingarten and the NEA’s Lily Eskelsen Garcia immediately. Our union leaders must show a healthier respect for the rank and file or else they jeopardize the entire entireprize of workers rights.

These are just some of the ways we can move forward in the days and weeks ahead. It will be a rough road  but I’m sure we can come out of it together.
Just like my aging body, our nation is ill. For me, the result was a heart attack. For us, the result is President Trump.
Will we turn it around?
I’m sure going to try.
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FULL DISCLOSURE: I didn’t vote for either Clinton or Trump. I happily voted for Jill Stein. My Election Day Heart Attack: Lessons for Moving Forward | gadflyonthewallblog:


All Things Education: Post 2016 Election Post

All Things Education: Post 2016 Election Post:

Post 2016 Election Post

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I have long outgrown (I hope) shaming, scolding, and ranting.  I am sobered, I am humbled, and I am devastated.  I will say that, yes, more empathy, compassion, and understanding is needed, but this goes both ways.  If people like me should understand why others voted for Trump (and I agree that we should), they need to understand why people like me find that vote threatening--threatening to us, to people we love and to people we've never even met (especially to non-white, non-Christian, non-straight, non-cis male people), to our society and the world, and to our values.  For more of what might articulate what I am thinking and feeling, read this twitter thread by Michael Schur

As for education, I don't have some detailed post on what a Trump presidency would mean for education; I am only able to string together some thoughts and recommendations.

1.  I am leaving the details of why Trump happened to others, but I will say that ultimately there are many reasons Trump won and that social science can help to tell us what those were.  And we need both quantitative and qualitative research to tell us.  Quantitative can tell us what and who but it can't tell us why.  We can also examine the policies that impact voting and see where they were oppressive and where they were facilitative.  Otherwise, while we know the extent of racism, sexism, homophobia, bigotry, and xenophobia in our country is great, we don't know what each American eligible to vote was thinking when they went into the voting booth or made a choice not to vote, or neglected to register in the first place.  But that can and should be studied.

Recommendation #1: Read, respect, and support high quality social scientific research that studies people of all groups and researchers that represent people of all groups.


2. Although I won't, others have written generally about what a Trump presidency might mean for education.  A good place to start is this straightforward piece from Mike Petrilli of the Fordham Institute.  Mike is a Republican and people like him would know best what Republicans might try to implement.  The most comprehensive, yet concise piece I have read on what education policy might look like is this by one of my favorite education journalists, Emma Brown of the Washington Post.  Otherwise, there is tons of stuff up at Education Week, this, for example.  As we have found out, we need to support journalism, especially investigative journalism, more than ever.  I have said this for a long time.  I am an education news junkie.  I don't pay for all of my content, but I happily pay for a lot of it.

Recommendation #2: Read people who you don't agree with and who make you uncomfortable--they can tell you things you won't pick up on by only reading people you agree with.

Recommendation #2a: If you don't already, invest in journalism. I repeat: read, support, and pay for journalism, especially investigative journalism.  Demand that journalists be of diverse backgrounds and groups and that coverage reflect that diversity.


3. If you read the links in #2, you will see, according to what he said on the campaign trail and who is advising him on education so far, that Trump supports the current traditional Republican agenda, that is privatization, school "choice," and the complete elimination of education as a public good.  In my opinion, those are not good policies--they are not good for public education but they also are not good for our society.  Public schools are flawed and as an institution have been tools of segregation and oppression but they are our best model for sustaining a pluralistic democracy.  Public schools are where kids (hopefully) from all kinds of backgrounds and families come together and navigate the world.  Privatization and "choice" will end that.  Keep in mind that privatization and school "choice" are part of what we've been contending with for a long time, including from the Obama administration, though most centrist Democrats do draw the line at vouchers. 

And education is a matter that is largely left to states and localities.  Trump has indicated that he would leave education to the states and localities to a even greater extent than ESSA does.  However, at the same time, he has said things such as that he wants to abolish Common Core, which is a state matter.  He has no record of governing (he has never held office), has no demonstrated expertise or knowledge of policy, is unpredictable, is, and is especially interested in amassing power.  Education does not appear to be much on his radar screen.  So some of what happens will depend upon his education-related appointments, but otherwise, who knows how much he will leave education to states and localities and how much he will want to control himself?  Who knows what he will do?

Recommendation #3: If you are not already, now is the time to get engaged in your local and state governance.  That is the only thing that is left.  Learn all about your local and state governing bodies, including your school boards. Learn about the issues and policies.  Get informed.  Talk with your fellow community members about the issues and policies.  Comment publicly on what your local and state governing bodies are doing and what you as a citizen, taxpayer, and constituent want them to do.  Cherish those public democratic institutions and work to preserve them and keep them healthy.  Work to get people from diverse backgrounds and different groups elected and appointed to such bodies. Serve in those bodies yourself. Contribute and be a participant.  I can't stress this enough.  I have long said that local and state governance is the most important and this is more true than ever.  Neo-liberals have demonstrated disdain for institutions and matters of local and state governance.  Obama's principal Secretary of Education Arne Duncan thought school boards were dysfunctional and a nuisance.  Do not follow this example.  Set a new one.  When you fail to engage with your local and state institutions, you leave a void for others or nobody to fill.  Local and state political leaders are obligated to serve their constituents and they need to be held accountable. We have to make them serve the public, ALL members of the public.


4. Going back to federal education, while I stated that much of what Trump has said about education aligns with current initiatives in education generally, there will be a large, devastating difference from the Obama administration in terms of the focus of the Department of Education.  Trump may work to eliminate the Department of Education, he may completely redirect the way federal funds for education are used (Title I, for example, and Pell Grants).  Civil rights components and integration initiatives will be gutted.  So much of the work that has been done towards establishing even just a fragile understanding of white supremacy and just a small start to countering and dismantling it will likely be lost.  This will have devastating effects.

Recommendation #4: Get involved and be present in your community's schools, in your children's schools. Advocate for diverse school staffs and diverse curricula. Tell your local educators that you know that they can't control what kids learn at home, but that once in school, you expect everyone be treated with respect and dignity and to be kept safe.  If you hear something or see something, say something.  Right now, there are many kids in schools (including many traditional public schools) who are just trying to survive. Read this --it's alarming but you must read it.  It's always been this way on some level, especially for Muslim, black, Latino, LGBT, and immigrant students and students with disabilities, but now it's even worse and female and all other non-Christian students are also in more danger. They are being bullied, intimidated, provoked, and in some cases attacked. They need your support and protection.

It isn't much, but that's all I got. Stay safe and remember to breathe. 
All Things Education: Post 2016 Election Post:



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