I’m at the Netroots Nation convention. I spoke at an open discussion on doing the right thing for our students. The audience included passionate activists in health care, justice, the environment, education, retirement protection, unions, you name it.
There was palpable frustration with President Obama. There were lots of questions for me regarding Education Secretary Arnie Duncan and his policies to continue the inappropriate use of testing and pushing competitive grants with winners and losers instead the rights for all students to needed services regardless of whether or not your district had a good grant writer. We have a lot of fights with Secretary Duncan.
I answered with the hard truth: Our choice will be between President Obama and our worst nightmare.
Why am I so sure that the Republican Convention will produce a candidate who is our worst nightmare? I answered with the experience I’ve seen this year. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers and their cronies have influenced governor and legislative races across the country.
They are focused. On the national level, they are determined to keep the House, take the Senate and replace President Obama at all costs. They have used their influence to specifically attack our country’s strongest unions which are public sector unions. Among those unions, they have singled out education unions.
When they won the House, Senate and governor’s seat in Wisconsin, we saw what happened, so we know what will happen. Within a heartbeat, they took after the unions that did not support them. They stripped them of their rights to even sit down with their school districts and, in good faith, have a voice in negotiating the district’s priorities by restricting collective bargaining.
In Alabama, the same type of stranglehold on a House, a Senate and the executive mansion brought legislation that restricted how unions could use their dues dollars in even alerting their members about political events that affected them. In New Jersey, they’re trying to close down the pension plans of teachers who made career decisions based on a key benefit. The Band of Billionaire Brothers wants to turn the entire country into Wisconsin.
Ask yourself why the Koch Brothers care about whether or not a 2nd grade teacher has a union to advocate for a decent class size. They care because organized unions, especially education unions, advocate for broad middle-class public services and protections. We fight for a secure Social Security, a comprehensive Medicare, worker and consumer protections that keep us safe, a living wage for families. If you’re trying to get rid of those things, you start by getting rid of the unions.
Right now, attempts to strip the middle-class of their rights, have been stopped by a shaky Senate and President Obama.
Smart folks are predicting the Senate may well be taken over by the same forces that took the House. That’s not to say “Republican”. That’s to say “Radical Republicans”. My definition of Radical Republicans? Folks who think Senator Orrin Hatch has to go because he’s too liberal. I am not making this up. I’m just saying. Radical.
If we lose the Senate, we must move to playing defense. We must protect our Goalie.
A goalie doesn’t make points. A goalie keeps the other side from making points. If we keep the Crazy House (i.e. House of Representatives); if the Senate goes Crazy, they will pass legislation to kill unions and to kill Social Security and to kill Medicare, and there will be only one hope that this radical legislation will not become laws that kill the middle-class. Our Goalie, President Obama, holding the veto pen.
Let’s bring Secretary Duncan back into this conversation. I have a lot to fight about with Secretary Duncan about policies where I think he’s absolutely wrong. And he’ll argue with me. And I’ll show him all the research and evidence and the common sense that shows why I’m right and he’s wrong.
But without our Goalie, we will not have the opportunity to have that open, honest fight with Secretary Duncan. We will be facing the Radical Koch Brother’s choice for president. That president will use his or her pen to sign the execution order for my union and middle-class protections that it took generations to build. This loss is our worst nightmare.
We must protect our Goalie, or it’s game over.