According to Dictionary.com, hatred is defined in this way: verb (used without object), hated, hating. To feel intense dislike, or extreme aversion or hostility.
It is my firm belief that as a society we use the word hate too casually. I offer this preamble to my last shot at motivating you to vote, act, and make sure others vote tomorrow, but there is a twist to my message today and I am asking you to stay with me as I work though my rationale behind what I am about to ask of all of you, but it starts with something that I do hate.
I hate one-issue voters. I don’t literally hate the people, but I do hate the blindness of their political bent. One-issue voters are almost always Republican and the two “one-issues” they hang onto as tightly as a redneck holding his cold beer are guns and abortion. You and I both know that guns are not being threatened and there are no impending laws that would alter our Constitution’s Second Amendment. As for the issue of choice, Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and will continue to be for a long time to come. I have also contended for years the Republicans love those two issues because they appeal to a very different set of constituencies and they love that. In fact, if choice and guns were no longer issues, what would Republicans have to run against? Yes, I wrote “against” since they are against more things than they are for, which suits them just fine.
Please remember that I have been involved in the political arena for over two decades. I have seen good times and bad times. I have seen Republican and Democratic waves. I have seen just about all there is to see in the political world and, at the end of the day, the one-issue voter drives me half mad. I know many of you have had conversations with someone you know that is a one-issue voter so you know all too well that they can’t see beyond that one issue no matter what.
OK, so why am I going on and on about this? Because as of right now I am asking you, and asking this of myself, to be a one-issue voter in tomorrow’s election. That one issue is EDUCATION.
My contemplation over the past few weeks has been laser focused on electing Democrats up and down the entire ticket. I just finished a series on women candidates who I believe are game changers and would bring a refreshing and very intelligent approach to policy and political debate and discussion. I have attended rallies, house parties, Union halls and many other events and I am solidly convinced that if we are going to affect change, that change MUST happen tomorrow. But, without a single exception, and I mean not even one exception, the heart of our future – the very soul of our democracy – begins and ends with education and the way Governor Snyder, Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, and House Speaker Jase Bolger have demolished and demoralized the process of public education and those who have made a deep commitment to teaching our children. If you don’t vote for change tomorrow, on education alone, you are allowing our future to be sold to the highest bidder, and we have plenty of FACTS to support that statement.
Over the past four years we have seen education dismantled by those who have no experience as educators. We have had a Republican revolution of the education system in this state that is offensive and deplorable. Tenure, curriculum, insurance, pay, supplies, textbooks, technology, advancement, testing, eliminating critical programs in the Arts and many other areas. We have fewer counselors in the schools now at all levels. School nurses are now the school’s receptionist (yes, really), teacher training is at an all time low and among many other things, teacher retention is at an all time low, and who can blame them (besides the Republicans)?
In July of 2013, I stood before thousands of teachers from all over the state on the Capitol steps for a “Save Public Education” rally and saw teachers, parents and students of all ages that were/are hurt. I saw people who were once contented to be excellent teachers and provide for their classrooms in any way they could, including using their own money to buy supplies, and sadly, food, so that their children in the classroom wouldn’t have to go hungry.
I have seen professional teachers become some of the most passionate activists I have ever known, and I know some pretty passionate activists. I have seen mild-mannered teachers become a guiding light in a sea of darkness and I have seen them beat up non-stop by the Republican legislature. I have seen a lot over the last four years and I have had enough.
Please read this carefully and repeatedly: If we do not vote on this one critical issue: public education, then we are surrendering generations of opportunities for our children, grandchildren and our great-grandchildren. If we do not make this one issue the most critical issue in tomorrow’s election we are letting down everyone in the state of Michigan, and one of the few things I believe we all agree on, if not publicly but privately, everything starts and ends with a proper public education…everything!!!
Jobs, compassion, career choice, raising families, economic realities and opportunities, protection, adoption, and the list goes on and on. Everything our future presents or represents is threatened by a political philosophy that sees the opportunity in for-profit schools and the goal for decades has been get at that money, that taxpayer money. They have now succeeded and, without electing people to represent us who are both willing to and able to advance some common sense and an opportunity and a new era of cooperation, we are failing the entire population of the State of Michigan.
The State of Michigan is falling behind on their constitutional mandate to provide a first class education to all of our children. Parents are still not as engaged as they need to be to affect positive change and to push back against the Republican onslaught on Public Education. Amazingly, we STILL are not inviting teachers to the table with their obvious expertise on how to improve and move forward in a proactive and positive way and make public education in Michigan something we can be proud of once again.
One of the most contemptible and profoundly regrettable consequences of the Republican slaughter of our education system is that they were able to perpetuate the meme that the teachers are at fault. Their demonization of teachers is unforgivable and beyond any explanation that doesn’t involve personal profit by our legislators. I have often said that with the Republican legislature over the last four years none of them must have never had mothers or teachers. How can they look a teacher in the eyes and not feel core guilt? I’m saying guilt so deep that you are scarred for life by what you have done to teachers and the students they are charged with educating and elevating, all the while knowing their personal gain cost millions a remarkable education and advancement opportunities.
I often wonder how many excellent teachers have left the career they always wanted but walked away from because of the oppression and disrespect of the current legislature? How many excellent teachers have left the state of Michigan in order to teach in a state that honors the commitment, quality, creativity, and gifts that many teachers possess? How many young people are now turning away from education as a profession because of what they are forced to see on a daily basis? And don’t for a second tell me that teachers have politicized the classroom because it is just not true.
So it comes down to this: Republican, Democrat, third party, or whatever you are politically, one issue truly matters tomorrow and only one issue. It is the one issue that feeds all other issues. It is the one issue that decides so much on so many levels that it is next to impossible, if not actually impossible, to name another one that does not share a connection to public education and all that it stands for is impossible.
So, yes, vote tomorrow and if for no other reason let it be for PUBLIC EDUCATION. Inasmuch as I hate one-issue voters, for this one day I am going to allow myself to be that one-issue voter and I hope you will join me. Listen, I could have taken this topic many different directions, but when the very foundation of our society, public education, is crumbling around us, what choice do we have but to push back and election people who see what we see? And I promise, above all else, if we do our job tomorrow and elect Democrats up and down the ticket, I will stand with all of you to make sure they do the right thing. No excuses, no delays, no matter what.
Are you in?
[Photo by Denise Cross Photography | Flickr]