The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) announced its endorsement of three Democrats running for president. The decision to narrow down the preferences to three candidates instead of one is a sign of the disarray within the Democrat Party. The union is encouraging its members to vote for Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren.
One from column A, two from column B is the best they can do? This is so on-brand for 2020 Democrats, isn’t it? This is clearly a slap at Michael Bloomberg, an advocate for charter schools, and the message is anyone but Mike. They don’t like Mike, you see, because back in his days as Mayor of New York City, he was a Republican and held the teachers’ unions accountable. The AFT objects to charter schools because the union says they take money away from traditional public schools.
The AFT endorsement came Thursday. The decision is being called a first step in the process towards the final endorsement. It sounds like the interview stage of the contest is continuing because a single candidate hasn’t received enough support from the leadership, so they are just going with three of them. Good heavens, why didn’t Randi Weingarten, the union president, just tell the thousands of AFT members and leaders participating in the telephone town hall to just go with anyone but Bloomberg with their primary votes? The message is the same. AFT has no idea on the path forward, at least not right now.
Weingarten told the telephone town hall participants that the AFT executive council held a meeting this week and a decision was made to make this odd endorsement in order to not miss out on influencing upcoming primaries on the calendar. No union voter left behind, so to speak. How can a teacher or school worker possibly cast a vote in a primary election without the heavy hand of the union upon her (or his) shoulder? Let’s face it, it doesn’t matter who the Democrat candidate winds up being – AFT members will vote for him or her. Especially given the wide range of this endorsement. Clearly, it doesn’t matter if the Democrats go with an alleged moderate like Biden or two socialists like Sanders and Warren. The AFT endorsement recommendations cover the political spectrum. There is no wrong answer. This multiple-choice test’s answer is (d) any of the above.
Joining Weingarten on the phone call were Scranton (Pa.) Federation of Teachers President Rosemary Boland, AFT Vermont President Deb Snell, and Boston Teachers Union President Jessica Tang. You see where this is going, right? These three seem to have overshadowed the preferences of others, like, you know, the actual union members. The replies to this tweet show that the rank and file members are not at all pleased, much less inspired with this ridiculous endorsement decision.
— Randi Weingarten (@rweingarten) February 21, 2020
It really just sounds like the AFT leadership panicked over Bloomberg’s success in buying his way into the race and rising in some polls and decided to jump into the fray before they had their act together enough to make one grand endorsement, as is their tradition. It also seems silly because, well, did they see Bloomberg’s performance on the debate stage Wednesday night? His debating skills, or lack of skills, sure don’t inspire confidence that he’ll catch on as the top choice of a majority of voters. Sure, he’s got the money to stay in for as long as he wants to but he still has to get votes to win. We’ll see how it shakes out after Super Tuesday.
So, where does the AFT go from here? Weingarten touted the surveys the union has taken with its members and the 10 candidate town halls that have been held around the country, plus telephone town halls and polling. She said several AFT local unions and state federations have already made candidate endorsements. Wouldn’t you think after all this effort, a single candidate could have been chosen?
“We are fighting for working families and our communities to have the freedom to live, and a voice at work and in our democracy. Donald Trump has proven himself to be an existential threat to the values and aspirations of educators, healthcare professionals, public employees and the communities we serve every day. While several candidates in this race share our values, three in particular—Vice President Biden, Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren have significant support within our membership. There is a real connection with these three candidates because of their record of working with us over the years on public education, higher education, healthcare, labor and civil rights.
“Given the stakes of this election, the enthusiasm among our membership to engage, and the nature of the democratic nomination process, our board felt strongly that until the AFT makes a national endorsement in the primary process or at the AFT convention, it is important that our affiliates, members and leaders, including the three national officers, be actively involved in supporting and helping Vice President Biden, Sen. Sanders and Sen. Warren.
“It was clear that the time to take this action was now, before all the delegates are chosen and before all of the primaries are over, so that AFT members and leaders can help shape the race and the narrative, ensure our voices are heard, and ensure one of these three candidates emerges as the nominee. Because, make no mistake: We are in the fight of our lives—for a better life for our members and the communities we serve, to preserve our democracy, and to defeat Donald Trump. Ultimately, we must be unified and support the eventual Democratic nominee.”
In other words, AFT is too scared to come out and endorse a candidate seen as unacceptable to the socialist wing of the Democrat Party – Biden – and is softening the blow by not even choosing between Sanders and Warren. They are just throwing it all on the wall and seeing what sticks. They are refusing to disavow socialism. This is all you need to know when you ponder why socialism has taken hold of so many young people. They have been taught by teachers who sympathize with socialism for two or three decades and the fruits of their labor are being seen in the candidacy of Bernie Sanders and to a lesser extent, that of Elizabeth Warren. Is it any wonder Michael Bloomberg, the entrepreneur and capitalist in the race supports school choice? Back in her teaching days, Warren was a Republican, too. I wonder how Dr. Jill, the community college teacher married to Joe Biden feels about this mess of an endorsement.