Why Elections Matter. (Hint: Tenure, Pensions, Teacher Evaluation, Student Testing, School Funding, Charter Schools, etc.)

In hundreds of races across the nation this weekend is GOTV – Get Out the Vote.

Back in July you’ve scrambled for signatures to get on the ballot, raised money, spent every waking hour running from meeting to meeting, shaking hands, hugging babies, mailers, printing palm cards, and now the final 72 hours.

How many supporters can you get out on the streets? How many doors can you knock?

Winning elections is pulling your voters, dragging your voters to the polls.

The TV attack ads diminished the “other guy,” the puff ads pumped up your guy. Sometime around midnight Tuesday you’ll find out whether you did your job.

Too many potential voters decide not to vote, politics is “dirty,” the Congress can’t get anything done, the Democrats act like Republicans and the Republicans are Tea Party nuts. All of which, to some extent is true.

Whether you decide to vote or not on Tuesday a Governor of New York State will be elected, and one party will lead the United States Senate.

In the current gridlocked Congress, the Republicans in the House have passed over 200 bills that will not see the light of day in the Senate, and in the Senate, bipartisan bills pass only to die as the House ignores the bills.

In spite of the gridlock the Senate approves federal judicial nominations and, most importantly, a Supreme Court nominee. The Senate must “consent” to the next Attorney General.

How vigorously will the next Attorney General challenge attacks on public employee pensions? How hard will the President fight against reductions in Medicare/Medicaid?

With a Republican speaker in the House and a Republican as Majority Leader in the Senate the Republicans will set the agenda and pass whatever legislation they choose. The President can use his veto authority, or not.

The Republicans have an excellent chance to gain control of the Senate. Every two years one-third of the Senate seats are up for election and in this election cycle more Democratic than Republican seat are on the table. The polling gives the Republicans the edge in many contests, although within the margin of error, meaning, at least twelve races are up for grabs.

A fascinating New York Times column delves into polling

Polls show that the Republicans have an advantage in the fight for control of the Senate. They lead in enough states to win control …

The polls have generally underestimated Democrats in recent years, and there are reasons to think it could happen again.

There are reasons to question whether the problems will be as acute this year, because many of the young and nonwhite voters who pose the biggest challenges to pollsters will most likely stay home in a midterm election. Even if the polls are again biased toward Republicans this year, there are reasons to doubt whether Democrats will retain control of the Senate. The Republicans might have a large enough advantage to withstand another round of modest polling errors.

Incredibly, some state pollsters still have no means to sample voters without a landline telephone, which is all but assured to result in a Republican-leaning sample

Nate Silver, the premier election pollster writes.

With only five days left until the election, TWELVE Senate races are still polling within three points — which Nate Silver calls “remarkable”!

Teachers in New York State are not voting for Andrew Cuomo, at least not on the Democratic line on the ballot, neither are they voting for the Republican Rob Astorino, some tell me that they’re staying home. Of course, the State Senate is currently equally divided, and thee election could decide who controls the Senate, staying home probably assists the Republican.

In Wisconsin the gubernatorial race is up for grabs, Scott Walker, the vigorously anti-union governor could be bumped, or, a victory would make him a presidential candidate.

We don’t always get to vote for wonderful candidates, brilliant innovative legislators, sometimes candidates are bland legislators who raise their hand and vote the party line. If the party line is our party line, so be it. If that party hack chairs a committee that buries a bill that will erode tenure we should make sure he gets elected. Candidates may not agree with us on all issues, do they agree with us on our core issues?

Yes, I’ve held my nose and voted for candidates, speaking of holding noses, I’ll probably going to vote for Andrew Cuomo, not on the Democratic line. His Republican opponent is a Tea Party Republican and I certainly can’t vote for him, and, if I simply leave the governor line blank it’s a vote for the Republican.

To the best of my ability I contribute to candidates of my choice, I spend time at phone banks; I will do a “lit drop” on Monday night, putting flyers under the door in my building.

If teachers across the nation involve themselves, knock on doors, try and convince friends and neighbors they will impact elections.

The latest email I received::

Please sign up for a shift — or more than one — now … at whatever time is convenient for you!

Sign up to make calls in these close Senate races:
• Michigan to help elect Gary Peters.
• South Dakota to help elect Rick Weiland.
• Colorado to help elect Mark Udall.
• North Carolina to help elect Kay Hagan.
• Iowa to help elect Bruce Braley.
• Kentucky to defeat Mitch McConnell.

It’s surprisingly easy to “get involved” in local politics and teacher voices at the grassroots level impact policies of electeds and potential electeds.

In New York State you have to be registered in a party to vote in the primary election, the election that selects candidates. I can’t tell you how many teachers I’ve met who are not registered in a party.
Spend the weekend campaigning for the candidate of your choice, and, win or lose, stay involved, we need teacher voices in every precinct across the nation

UPDATE: Early voting Raises Democratic Chances: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/upshot/early-voting-election-results-hold-good-news-for-democrats.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&abt=0002&abg=1

2 responses to “Why Elections Matter. (Hint: Tenure, Pensions, Teacher Evaluation, Student Testing, School Funding, Charter Schools, etc.)

  1. If you are a teacher, then you are by definition an educated man or woman. Staying at home is a sign of ignorance. We have seen wgat staying at home has meant to The Mayors office. We have seen what apathy means to this city. Casting your vote is the greatest way to asert what being an American is all about. In your schools where many hold elections for UFT CHapter Chair indiviuals, where pupils conduct election campaigns running for student counsil, or Class Pres would anyone suggest to those voters that need not vote, that they need not exerrcise their right to exercise the privelege of voting? I dont think so! for those of you who do not cast your vote, dont ever complain. You lose that right when you fail to speak up by casting your vote.Issues such as tenure, teacher pension survival seniority rights, are crucial to your futures. You cannot afford to discount those matters by suitting at home. I recognize the fact that the teaching work force over the years has seen its numbers i9ncreased by a significant representation of teachers from TFA and TEAching Fellows, many of whom do not stay long. Local UFT chaptesr need to school these youngsters and make sure that they understand that their chosen profession in the State Of NY needs their vote. Workshops and communications galore should be in the pipeline for this single purpose. Vote..thats it, just do it…


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