Sunday, February 23, 2020

America's Dad

First, they said that Bernie Sanders made people's skin crawl. Yet his poll numbers grew. Then they took half of his ideology, Democratic Socialist, and accused him of being a socialist. Yet, somehow, his poll numbers grew. Then they said that his ideas were a thing only for third world countries. Yet his poll numbers grew. And when they said he couldn't win, his poll numbers grew and when they tried to pretend his win in Iowa (by 6,000 votes) wasn't a win his poll numbers grew. They grew after New Hampshire. They grew after the Bloomberg debate (and he wasn't event the main story of that debate) and they grew after he won dominated the Nevada Caucus.

Nowadays, when Amercia's Dad wins, his poll umbers grow. When it looks like he may not win, his poll numbers grow. When he's seen being attacked, his poll numbers grow and when he is seen as being embraced with love his poll numbers grow again. This smells like momentum.

And the momentum is saying one thing: That the unlikely may actually happen: That guy ... the one up the block from you ... your friend's dad ... the one who rarely combs his hair and is strangely comfortable in his own skin ... the one who has no shame in consistently saying the same damn thing every time he sees you .. that one ... the one who puts everything in terms of 'right or wrong' ...  the one about whom you're never quite sure whether he likes you, hates you or just doesn't remember who you are ... yet the one who you know will be there for you if you ever need a hand because he's kind of like your dad, too ...  that guy ... that dad ... may well become the DNC candidate for president.

(And if you're not a fan, then that's OK. You've got your own opinions, but if you are a fan, then it feels just, I don't know, glorious. Kind of like watching your own dad being proven right after he notices you were overcharged at the grocery store and drags you in to cause a scene to get your money back. Sure, it's uncomfortable for a while but it damn sure feels good to get your money back and thank god dad was there anyway.)

Back here in New York, the UFT continues to be the largest political action group in New York State, period. It's last three presidents have gone on to preside over the AFT and it's politics are the politics of many urban locals, from El Paso to Philadelphia, spread across the United States. It matters.

And through most of 2019, the word from UFT to its members about the POTUS election was "we're neutral". The word to the insiders was a slightly different, "we're neutral, but ... " and when looked carefully at their actions, it looked very much they were kind of angling toward supporting Biden. "Sanders is someone they will never support" is something you heard over and over again from informed members within the New York teacher union.  That made sense. Hillary Clinton runs the Democratic Party and she is very close with AFT President Randi Weingarten.

But earlier this week, when the AFT effectively disqualified support for four candidates and suggested that members focus on just three, the crack squad here at NYCDoE-nuts noticed that Mike Bloomberg's name wasn't there.

First, the fact that AFT cut Bloomberg out of possible candidates to ask members to support -while his poll numbers were climbing- is the final proof I'll ever need that the critics are wrong: The UFT/AFT is not that desperate for a seat at the table. Kudos to them for that.

And with Five Thirty Eight reporting just today that the most likely scenario isn't a brokered convention but one in which Sanders triumphs, the one scenario that UFT folks  may have to make the one choice they did not want to make: Back Sanders or sit out the election and risk a Trump victory.

There is little doubt that at least parts of the DNC will just sit it out if he becomes the nominee. But what will organizations like the UFT and the AFT do if this happens? Will they follow the DNC establishment folks who choose not to phone bank or donate or stuff envelopes? Or will they turn their back on dad and let mom's rich, ugly disrespectful new boyfriend stay in the house for another four years? That's a pretty big question.  Many organizations correctly see a Trump reelection, and the re-alignment of working class voters with the nation's conservative party, as an existential threat to their existence. Will it be worth it to stay with the DNC establishment? Or is will it be time to break away.

One thing's for sure: If the DNC is the grocery store clerk who just overcharged you, it looks like America's Dad is making his way over to the counter right now -and he doesn't look one bit intimidated about the conversation he's about begin.

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