One of the many disasters related to the Hillary Clinton run for president – aside from the eventual election of Donald Trump – was the undemocratic way her early endorsement by the two national teacher unions, the NEA and the AFT, was forced down the throats of rank and file union members.
The endorsements of Hillary by the NEA and the AFT were made early in the primary campaign when Bernie Sanders was Hillary’s only opponent.
They were no-strings endorsements. Nothing was demanded from Hillary in return, even though Sanders’ record on education issues like charter schools was much stronger than Clinton’s.
The main argument made by the union leadership was her electability.
The eventual result demonstrated the fallacy of the electability argument. Electability continues to be used by union leaders as we saw in the early endorsement of Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Toni Preckwinkle for Chicago Mayor by the CTU. Preckwinkle was eventually soundly defeated by Mayor Lori Lighfoot six months ago.
Electable or not, the electabilty argument is used to conceal the undemocratic manipulations of those in the national union leadership.
Facing rank and file discontent over the presidential endorsement process, both the NEA’s President Lily Eskelsen Garcia and the AFT’s President Randi Weingarten have promised reform.
But when the United Teachers of Los Angeles recently endorsed Bernie Sanders after an open and democratic process involving way more rank and file participation than has ever been seen at the national levels, Weingarten was not pleased.
Barely a day after the UTLA endorsement, Weingarten decided she needed to teach other affiliates a lesson.
“As part of this AFT Votes endorsement process, we have enabled locals and state federations, if they choose, prior to any national endorsement, to endorse a candidate for the purpose of their state primary or caucus. Last night, UTLA voted to endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders using its own iteration of that process, based on its long history with the senator and his long-standing support for a pro-public school agenda.
“We anticipate that other AFT affiliates may endorse other candidates prior to their states’ primary or caucus. Our recent member polling indicates that Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have healthy double-digit support, followed by Sanders and several other Democratic candidates.”
First of all, Weingarten didn’t enable anything. Locals can endorse who they please.
But then she tossed out the polling numbers, once again recycling the electability argument.
For someone who likes to teach opponents lessons, Randi Weingarten is not a very good learner.