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Est. April 5, 2002
February 22, 2018 - Issue 730

Teachers and Women
Can Prevent Trump
Leading Democrats Down
Another Rabbit Hole

"Teachers and women make up the majority of
the electorate at every level of government. 
Although, a majority of white women went for
Trump in 2016, he has steadily lost their
support in the aftermath of #MeToo and the
nineteen women who have accused him of
sexual harassment and assault."

Trump is at it again as he attempts to lead Democrats down a rabbit hole during the 2018 midterms. With his continuing war on women, minorities, millennials, and American democracy, Trump is poised to, perhaps, prevail by employing the following strategies: promoting the recently passed tax bill which is growing in popularity; blaming the Democrats for not providing a single vote for the bill and shutting down the government; pointing out the lack of uniformity in the Democratic message; and launching a campaign to denounce House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, who is underwater in 69 House districts targeted by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC dedicated to preserving the Republican majority. He is at his best when he appears to be cornered, and like a martial arts fighter, uses the Democrats’ eagerness and assurance of winning to his advantage in squeezing out a victory as he did in 2016.

However, America’s teachers, the majority of whom are women and most of whom are Democrats, can serve as the last line of defense against another Trump flimflam. Hopeful signs have emerged in Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama, Virginia, Florida, and in Kentucky’s 49th state district where Democrat Linda Belcher, who lost the seat in a 72 percent landslide to a Trump supporter, Dan Johnson, in 2016 (who killed himself after being accused of sexual assault of a minor and was replaced by his wife, Rebecca). Belcher bested the widow by a 68-32 percent margin last Wednesday, making this the 37th pick up of a state Republican seat since Trump’s election. Nevertheless, these victories are not an assurance of an upcoming Democratic wave election in November 2018. Yet a constant across these wins is the strong participation and turnout of teachers and women.

Teachers and women make up the majority of the electorate at every level of government. Although, a majority of white women went for Trump in 2016, he has steadily lost their support in the aftermath of #MeToo and the nineteen women who have accused him of sexual harassment and assault. One of his accusers, Rachel Crooks, a former receptionist in New York’s Trump Tower, who was recently profiled on the front page of the Washington Post, is currently running for a seat in the Ohio state legislature, prompting Trump to attack her in a tweet. Crooks has assembled a female brigade to support her candidacy, and says “… she was inspired to run by the momentum of Democratic activism in response to Trump’s election and the Me Too movement that has felled powerful men in many industries.” In addition, two of Trump’s porn star and playboy bunny, consensual sex partners were paid approximately $300,000 shortly before the presidential election allegedly to keep quiet about the affairs.

The #MeToo crusade itself is a comprehensive organizing tool for women in every region of the country. Women in general and women in female dominant organizations and professions (e.g., teachers) are coalescing to push for equality and equity in every facet of their lives. In West Virginia, where teachers are among the lowest paid in the nation, the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) are collaborating on a teacher walkout over this issue and the increasing cost of health benefits. Students in Kiefer and Tulsa, Oklahoma staged a class walk out over their teachers’ low pay which had not been raised in a decade. Pittsburgh teachers voted to authorize a strike over class size and the lack of support for early childhood education. Unfortunately, public educators have suffered under both Democratic and Republican administrations and are now beginning to turn a critical eye toward both.

New polling has revealed that Democrats are mistaken in believing that Hillary Clinton’s gender was the major factor in her losing Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which caused Trump to triumph in 2016. Tracy Sefl, a Clinton surrogate, observed that voters looked beyond gender in making their decision. Clinton’s lack of aggressive and sustained campaigning in those states was also a key reason for her loss.

Going forward, Democrats have to harness the support of their core constituents—women, minorities, labor, young Americans, and people of different sexual orientations—while reaching out to other groups with appealing, non-contradictory messages and policies that mesh with their concerns. They must not squander the opportunity to soberly respond to the Parkland, Florida massacre last week by engaging in knee-jerk actions that will not go anywhere. Democrats must strategically back the NRA into a corner with policies that have broad bipartisan support. And most importantly, they should dispense with any efforts to impeach President Trump unless Special Counsel Robert Mueller comes up with overwhelming criminal evidence that would compel Republican senators to join with Democrats in a bipartisan vote to remove him from office. Democrats, even if they take back control of the U.S. Senate, will not have the votes to do it alone, and the general public (including most Democrats) is not interested going down that rabbit hole. Democrats are becoming much too confident about the likelihood of their return to power at the national level in 2018.

It is imperative that they reach down to the state, county, and city levels to solicit support and feedback from Democrats and other citizens at the ground level to ensure that they are in sync with the majority of the body politic. If they blow this opportunity, they may well be in the political wilderness for some time to come. Finally, Democrats must solve the DACA problem before the midterms as they are beginning to be blamed for the failure to resolve it thus far. Otherwise, they could see Latinos and millennials becoming less enthusiastic about voting. As politically and morally damaged as he is, Trump is not yet down for the count.

links to all 20 parts of the opening series Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell. 




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