One Teacher’s Look at Politics – The Governors

19 Nov


I remember when things got down to the wire in the 2010 election.   In the Democratic Primary, I had wanted Dan Hynes.  He lost in a heartbreaking election with no turnout and I was disappointed that teachers who should have known better had stayed away in droves.  At the last House of Delegates meeting before the election, a Chicago Teachers Union with very mixed feelings about Quinn who had already pushed through an attack on our pensions, had a very close vote to endorse him.

I pushed for us to endorse Quinn despite not believing he was a very good Governor.  I was scared of Brady getting in and when we saw what Scott Walker was able to do in Wisconsin, I think the movement of the teachers union and other organized labor to Quinn saved us from having a string of right to work states from Wisconsin to Indiana.  Some of my friends wanted to support any third party candidate.  However, a teacher who is gay, posted on a mailing list that I am on that she didn’t have that luxury.  She wanted to marry her long term partner and Quinn was her best chance of that happening.  In the end, supporting Quinn was a good move.

Things changed when Quinn chose Paul Vallas as his lieutenant Governor.  Even though they run separately in the primary, choosing an out of state Republican with a track record of education reform failures as his running mate was a slap in the face to the Chicago Teachers Union.  When local pundits analyzed it, they all said “well, who else are they going to vote for?”  We have other choices besides Rauner and Quinn and I want to go through them point by point.

Rauner – I believe he’d be like Emanuel, but worse.  However, the Governor has less control over us than the mayor does.   Also, it may be easier to fight a Republican Governor than a Democrat.   Voting for him is not an option

Voting for a more moderate Republican – There are none.  Senator Kirk has refused to endorse any of the candidates because he doesn’t think any our moderate enough for the state.  I think he knows.

Vote for third party – If you want to get behind a third party, that’s great.  I understand the desire to say a pox on both of your houses.  However, with so much at stake, I don’t see why I should give up a vote in order for the green party to go from 5% to 7% of the vote.  If the greens or any other party can run a quality candidate with a chance, I definitely would be for supporting them, but that’s a huge “if”.

Run our own candidate – To what end?  Do we want to play spoiler?  There probably isn’t enough time to really be credible a year from now.  Also, with limited resources should teachers be putting all of them here?

Vote for Mickey Mouse – The inability to find an actual candidate probably has as much to do with your unwillingness to be informed as it does with the quality of the candidates.

Endorse Pat Quinn – I think that ship has sailed. 

So what do we do?   I think we need to continue to advocate for our issues.   We should fight for a fair tax, for pensions that we can live with, for an elected school board, and for more funding for our schools.  We should get involved in the elections where we can make a difference and where there are candidates who have championed our issues or are willing to do so, we give them our full support.

In the race for Governor, we play the game.  Maybe we do endorse Quinn, maybe we don’t.  However, we don’t throw our resources into this election.  I will probably not take a Democratic primary ballot and will instead vote for Rauner’s closest challenger int he GOP primary.   We can vote for Quinn, we can choose not to, but I do think we need to get political.  We need to advocate for our issues and for those who champion them and let the race for Governor take care of itself.


3 Responses to “One Teacher’s Look at Politics – The Governors”

  1. Karl November 25, 2013 at 7:18 am #

    I’m a Democratic precinct committeeman and a loyal member of the “Democratic Wing” of the Democratic Party. I see no hope in Pat Quinn. He professes to be “progressive” but his record proves otherwise. There are only two actions in his career that can be called “progressive”: the Citizens’ Utility Board and more recently, he signed Illinois’ gay marriage bill into law. The rest of his record is anything but “progressive.”

    In 1980, he was instrumental in the promotion and passage of the “cut-back amendment” to the Illinois Constitution in which the Illinois House of Representatives lost two-thirds of its members and gave us the corrupt system of one-party rule in the General Assembly both under Democrats (Madigan) and republicans. Remember Lee Daniels and “Pate” Phillips? Thanks, Pat, for the law of unintended consequences.

    More recently, Quinn gave us a series of body blows which reveal his unprogressive nature: Illinois’ fracking law, sand / stone quarrying next to environmentally sensitive areas of Starved Rock State Park, a grant of $98 million to Juan Rangel and his questionable charter school operation, the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) at a time when the state of Illinois is supposedly in dire financial straits, and the promotion of unfair, unconstitutional (illegal) cuts to state pensions. Is Quinn’s pension cutting obsession also related to his notoriously anti-union disposition? Quinn is no “progressive!” On the contrary, his stands on vital issues are uncomfortably close to those of his potential republican opponents.

    The crowning blow was naming Paul Vallas as his running mate. Vallas is at best a controversial, former Democrat (?) turned republican, turned superintendent of schools in (post-Katrina) New Orleans, Philadelphia, and Bridgeport, Connecticut where he converted public schools to unaccountable, lackluster charter schools. Bridgeport dumped Vallas unceremoniously. Quinn rescued him from a deserved oblivion and made him his running mate. Vallas is Quinn’s thumb in the eye of public education. He’s also a thumb in the eye of many Democrats. Can Quinn top the Vallas action by something even more boneheaded? Stay tuned!

    Pat Quinn stood at a 26% voter approval rating before the Vallas announcement. He won his last election against a “tea bag” republican by the skin of his teeth, ironically through the hard work of teachers and other public employees whose pensions he wants to cut. Quinn has alienated a substantial part of his base that’ll find it impossible to cast its votes for him. Count me among those.

    I will urge the voters in my precinct to consider an alternative. The Green Party candidate would be a great choice. It’s time for a general revolt by others in the Democratic Party to stand against the pathetic, if not corrupt, gubernatorial leadership of Pat Quinn. Perhaps, enough dissatisfied Democrats can force this guy to become someone for whom the people of Illinois can actually vote without qualms.

    Call Quinn’s offices in either Chicago at (312) 814 – 2121
    or in Springfield at (217) 782 – 0244 and tell the staffers that you’re not happy with
    the fracking law, environmental damage to Starved Rock, unconstitutional pension cuts,
    Paul Vallas as the running mate, his anti-union stand, money grants to charter schools, especially when the state is in a financial crisis. Tell them that you support public schools and tax money should only go to real public schools, not corporate charter schools

  2. Sue Barnhart December 2, 2013 at 12:21 am #

    ok well way I see it aiding and abetting a GOP win is the same thing as endorsing the roll back of the medicaid expansion which I noticed you never mentioned anywhere in Quinns acomplishment — but he did it and it helps thousands of Illinoisans get healthcare — could be ANY one of us should we lose our job and insurance with it. If you can live with the idea that helped throw thousands off health care cover… ok then vote green. Or dont vote or vote GOP. It’s up to you.

    • cps299 December 3, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

      I know you posted this yesterday, but less than a half hour ago, Democrats led the charge to steal hard earned retirement savings from thousands of teachers. They are then following the vote up with another vote to give huge tax breaks to ADM. When there is only one party and it is the corporate party, we lose if we don’t try and find another solution.

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