What If…

What if the rational majority of Americans decided to reject the nation’s culture warriors and their grievances? What if they went to the polls and rejected the candidates who were appealing to their fears and biases?

What if the gratifying results of the country’s school board races that took place earlier this month in several states were “leading indicators” of that rejection?

The above link will take you to a Politico article headlined, “Why GOP Culture Warriors Lost Big in School Board Races this Month,” and it began with the following paragraphs:

Amid all the attention on this month’s elections in Wisconsin and Illinois, one outcome with major implications for 2024 flew under the national radar: School board candidates who ran culture-war campaigns flamed out.

Democrats and teachers’ unions boasted candidates they backed in Midwestern suburbs trounced their opponents in the once-sleepy races. The winning record, they said, was particularly noticeable in elections where conservative candidates emphasized agendas packed with race, gender identity and parental involvement in classrooms.

The article went on to suggest that the results ought to serve as a warning to the Republican presidential hopefuls who are emphasizing those culture-war themes.(Trump, DeSantis et al are unlikely to heed that warning. Culture war is all they have.)

Appeals to racial and religious grievance might play well in Republican primary elections, but a variety of indicators–including this one–raise the likelihood that General election voters will be less interested in crusades against critical race theory, transgender students and Black Lives Matter activists than they are in a working government, just as the recent school board elections brought out voters more interested in funding schools and ensuring that students are safe than empowering aggrieved parents to censor what goes on in the classroom.

“Where culture war issues were being waged by some school board candidates, those issues fell flat with voters,” said Kim Anderson, executive director of the National Education Association labor union. “The takeaway for us is that parents and community members and voters want candidates who are focused on strengthening our public schools, not abandoning them.”

A recent column by Harold Meyerson in the American Prospect considered a radical idea: What If we fixed the public schools rather than destroying them?

Watching the news, you might think that teachers are the most disrespected workers in America. Reading state budgets, you might think they’re the most underpaid.

That first assertion is true only if you limit your intake to the anti-teacher jihads that the right is currently waging. As poll after poll makes clear, however, the great majority of Americans actually think well of their teachers—and perhaps even more important, support their freedom to teach. If anything, the polling here is even more lopsided. As one recent CBS News/YouGov poll showed, when asked if books used in public schools should “ever be banned for criticizing U.S. history,” fully 83 percent of the public answered “no.”

Meyerson’s column began by listing numerous, thorny problems currently confronting American public education, and noted that those challenges had been addressed in a recent, major address by Randi Weingarten, the current President of the American Federation of Teachers.

The right’s current attacks on public education, she began, have to be viewed as an effort to destroy it. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s universal voucher program, which he signed into law on Monday, will reduce support for his state’s public schools by $4 billion—this in a state, she noted, that already ranks 44th in per-pupil spending and 48th in average teacher pay.

After listing a number of the AFT’s current programmatic efforts, Weingarten concluded her speech by saying that “Teachers should have the freedom to teach, and students should have the freedom to learn. A great nation does not fear people being educated.”

To which I would add: a great nation doesn’t fear an electoral system that facilitates, rather than impedes, citizens’ efforts to vote. A great nation accedes to the will of its electorate, and declares the winner of each election to be the candidate who garners the most votes. A great nation doesn’t fail to act decisively when faced with evidence of judicial corruption.

What if, in addition to fixing our public schools, America’s rational majority voted to fix the nation’s democratic institutions?


  1. I am left to conclude that we are no longer a great nation; that a narrow-minded, faux-patriotic, vocal minority don’t care that they’ve blown it all up just to make themselves feel they are still relevant.

  2. What Jane said. We have lost “Great Nation” status. Republicans, unless they return to their former center right position will never make us anything but a has been nation and a nation in decline. Democrats, following the FDR/Biden model, may just be able to restore our former greatness but given the near 50/50 split in congress its not going to be much more that a holding action unless Democrats can retake the house, hold a filibuster proof senate and keep the Oval office and make gains in the state legislatures and Governors offices.

  3. I received the IPS flyer last week regarding the Referendum on the May 2nd Primary Election ballot. The headline reads “Do You Agree that IPS Students Deserve Quality School Buildings?” The only educational item on their foundation list is to “Expand support for our performing arts and athletic facilities.” I had already returned my mail-in ballot with my “Yes” vote in hopes the quality of the educational system would benefit by lowering voucher numbers and using public education budget for public education. Silly me!

    I grew up on the Indianapolis west side in the Riverside area and attended Riverside #44 school which served 1 through 8 grades and was segregated until September 1951. Integration allowed the Black children living 2 blocks away, much closer than the majority of students from 16th to 29th Streets to attend the school. The original building was torn down sometime between 2001 and 2005 after the new building to house all neighborhood children was built on the back of that property where we once played baseball and had our track meets. It provided special activities such as arts and crafts and social events during the summer break. I researched Riverside #44 school and found it currently has 37 students, 13 teachers and the student body is Prekindergarten. The minority enrollment is 81% with the majority being Hispanic, the Indiana state average for minority enrollment is 34%. Their Math and Reading/Language proficiency rate is 10-14%, well below the low state average. The school is surrounded by an 8 foot high, chain link fence to protect the children and the teachers. Maintenance of this once 1 through 8th grades, now serving 37 students and 13 teachers is one reason our public education budget is being drained along with the highest voucher rate in the nation at last report.

    It has been at least 10 years since I drove through my old neighborhood with 2 of my great-grandchildren to show them where Grandma Jo grew up. Due to fear seeing the decline around the school with few homes decently maintained and empty, weed filled lots where my neighbors once lived in the stable middle-income area, I quickly drove out of the area. I spoke with friends who had driven through just a few weeks before my trip; they (all white) had been stopped by police, questioned why they were in that neighborhood and had to show ID, they were then escorted by police out of the area and told not to return. The decline of the area is something I have referred to regarding the “Abandon Indy” news series in the Indianapolis Star which reported this level of decline, and beyond, where many schools are located. Our failing public education system covers areas beyond the schools buildings housing teachers and students.

    “What if, in addition to fixing our public schools, America’s rational majority voted to fix the nation’s democratic institutions?”

  4. Can we move the needle from full-blown oligarchy with tech-security protection? We’ll have to do so without any support from the media industry. We’ll have to do so against major propaganda pushes against our interests.

    In other words, any democratization efforts will be working against all odds.

    I hear the US and EU are upset over Lula’s comments in China. He actually told the truth and got chastised. In a country that chastizes the truth or lives in propaganda, any democratization effort is up against big-time House odds favor.

  5. JoAnn, your vote was not wasted. If more money comes in for the Arts and athletic programs, less will be taken from the rest of the schools’ budgets for those programs.

  6. And as the pendulum swings, it will never swing in a manner to produce a status quo.

    It doesn’t matter spot, stripe, or color! There will always be those trying to force their ideals down someone else’s throat.

    That’s what happens when you don’t maintain the separation between church and state. In a secular society you cannot promote any particular religious dogma, because it disenfranchises, marginalizes and dismisses large swaths of citizens. Hence, you have the pendulum swinging back in the other direction. It doesn’t stop in a non-binary fashion, it continues it’s swing to a completely opposite binary post.

    So instead of something that could be unifying, or, repairing damage done by fanatics, it tends to create even more ill will all the while pounding that wedge even deeper. Enough is never good enough. It will always go too far, one way, or the other.

    It’s the way of humankind, the inability to love your neighbor, to mind your own business, to live and let live, and the desire to crush those who have a different opinion than yours. History proves it!

  7. As has been stated often on this blog: EVERYTHING REPUBLICANS TOUCH DIES. Republican appointees to SCOTUS is yet another indicator that they plan to destroy the Constitution and install some screwed-up form of fascism. Since the Citizens United v. FEC decision, corporate/banking America has hijacked the Republican party. I don’t care what Todd says about the oligarchs infecting both parties. He’s wrong to the extent that the Democrats are doing things that look like governing. The Republicans are trotting out vacant minds like Greene and Boebert to feed the aggrieved their daily dose of B.S.

    It’s heartening to read that the voters are doing the right thing and slamming the school board fascists back into their idiotic closets. BUT since the idiot class votes to the tune of 90+%, Democrats and rational independents need to turn out in massive numbers (75+%) to vote out the loonies and return our systems to world-class.


  8. Here in sunny Florida, voters will soon be asked if school board elections should be partisan. On one hand, it seems they already are, but on the other it would be great if schools were not subject to partisan interference. I’m going to mull this over for a long while. Are any of you aware of any state that does this?

  9. What if indeed? Have the cultural warriors awakened the sleeping giant of democracy? I hope so. We still have the world’s numero uno economy, but how one rates a country’s “Great Nation” status depends upon the criteria chosen for measurement, and by the measures I have selected I think “This, too, shall pass,” and while relying upon sayings to make my point, I am reminded of Mark Twain’s passing comment to the effect that “Reports of my death have been greatly magnified.”

    I do not use the same criteria in measuring our “greatness” that Wall Street and Washington use, i.e., the fear game of contrasts with the ascent of China on the world stage, though its rate of ascent is worrisome. I rather measure our “greatness” in what we can and do in fact deliver in freedom and shared prosperity for our citizenry, and assume once those twin goals are met that we can and will be “great” and ready to compete globally with any country or ism.

    It’s not as though there is no precedent for such an idealistic outcome as herein suggested. We lived that experience in real time after WW II in FDR’s New Deal, appointment of the dollar as the world’s reserve currency in 1944, the postwar Marshall Plan for Europe and Japan, the GI Bill, unionization etc. Can you spell halycon? It was a great time to be alive, as I was, and we did great things both at home and abroad, and while naysayers will say it was unique for its time and situation I disagree. I can’t find any such responses as ours in history, i.e., where you win a war and rebuild your former enemies’ ruined cities and political infrastructure. Indeed Hitler used French reparations from WW I as one of the rationales for his historic misconduct. We instead demanded no reparations; we rather rebuilt Berlin and Germany is now a member of NATO. I think there’s a lesson to be learned there, but first we must have unity from within as we had then without which competing with China and countries who enjoy comparative advantage is made more difficult, but one in which we can succeed if we obey yet another adage, to wit: “Physician, heal thyself.”

  10. Gerald, we are indeed a “Great Nation” if all you consider is money and war making power. In my mind, in order to have a truly GREAT NATION you have to have a great people…educated, mindful, caring, respectful, peaceful, and loving. We ain’t even close.

  11. Republicans will accept the will of the electorate once it’s reached statistical certainty. Legitimate candidates will sing the songs that the crowd wants to hear and sound like it’s also their favorite song. Performers perform, that’s just what they do.

    The issue we face is to turn the volume up on political science education louder than disinformation and the Dominion lawsuit has shown us one way by making disinformation too expensive for entertainment profiteering.

    We also have to learn more effective teaching techniques and methods.

    One of the greatest threats the entertainers on the right adopted was to redefine patriotism to suit their agenda by teaching that its being anti-government and the path is to defund it. People like saving money on any of their expenses so the dream of cheaper was attractive especially when packaged as less restrictive. That’s misinformation.

    Education must reveal that strong Constitutional government is where our freedom comes from and it costs what it does. The path to affordable life is to lower the costs spent on capitalism’s goods and services by asserting the disconnect between more and satisfied living.

    We have work to do but the chances are good that the end result will be a return to reality from fictionland.

    We got this.

  12. “A great nation accedes to the will of its electorate, and declares the winner of each election to be the candidate who garners the most votes.” Such was the vision of the Founders; however, we are more and more the nation that “declares the winner of each election to be the PARTY who garners the most votes” whether for school board or President. Just wait – as soon as Biden announces this week, despite huge polling that shows that neither he or THE FORMER are wanted as leaders by the American public, on this and every place of commentary will be cries to “vote DEM or vote GOP”. This is not democracy; this is partyocracy.

  13. We could start by forcing more kids to learn the English language well, and I am not referring to immigrants. The greatest reason these people are so easily swayed by propaganda is their inability to comprehend their own language. That ability is the foundation of critical thinking.

    By the way, we are a “great country,” because “great” means very large.

  14. I recommend a book by Stephen Prothero titled “Why Liberals Win the Culture Wars .” We ARE winning and this book explains not only why we win, but why our victories are often difficult for us to recognize.
    Doom and gloomers take note. Your consistently pessimistic views are unjustified.

  15. Gosh–I feel rather bad for never thinking ‘we’ are a Great Nation–is it being an old Gen X? I mean, I think we are a good nation, certainly better than most but Great?. Nah–we value money over people. We are a racist, sexist, dehumanizing country whose history classes are full of myths. I am glad I live here than in another country, but there is always room for improvement

    I keep hearing Meacham in my head about striving for a more perfect Union–I hope we keep plodding forward and try our best to create a better country–certainly alot of room for improvement but not sure about human nature–do we have it within ourselves? Do we have the resolve? I see hints of it from us regular ‘Joe’s and Jane’s’ but not so much from those in power. (I will not use the word leadership as there is no evidence of that?

  16. “Gerald, we are indeed a “Great Nation” if all you consider is money and war making power.
    In my mind, in order to have a truly GREAT NATION you have to have a great people…
    educated, mindful, caring, respectful, peaceful, and loving. We ain’t even close.”
    SO TRUE!
    A much younger fellow was on the line just behind me in a nice ice cream store recently.
    He was wearing a shirt emblazoned with a phrase I’d not seen since the days of resistance
    to the Viet Nam war: “America, love it or leave it.” I did not say what I thought, which fits into
    today’s theme: “America, love it, AND fix it!”
    Oh, Gerald, this was in Florida, and I am not optimistic about the school board referendum…
    will vote against it, though.

  17. Rose; I was not speaking against School 44, my point was and is that this full size elementary school is only used to educate 37 students and employs 13 teachers. How many other of the “special prep” schools are wasting full size schools to educate a handful of students; maintenance and upkeep come from the already strained public education budget, the entire school and others could be put to better use by filling the buildings with the different specialized prep education in separate areas.

  18. Rose; I do find the low proficiency rating of 10-14% to be questionable for funding and maintaining that entire building.

  19. JoAnn that’s why I posted Global Academy site. There are a lot more than 37 students who attend. Possibly the pre-school class is 37 students of which my grandson is one. The rest of the school is K thru 8th grade. Andre Carson’s former wife is president and dedicated to filling a need for minority students and emphasizes bi-lingual education.

  20. Rose; I got my information from a site Public School Review which supposedly provides basic information on public education systems in all states. Good to know my old school is put to good use; I do hope their is security provided.

  21. It all has to do with WOKE.

    Women, and those who support reproductive freedom didn’t care about the courts. They didn’t have to do that because Roe was the law of the land.

    One day they WOKE up to find Roe overturned, a district judge trying to establish a national ban on abortion medications, and the Republicans trying to bring back the Comstock Act.

    People who care about public education couldn’t believe that the Republicans would ban books, turn the curriculum into a pro-antebellum South indoctrination, and destroy public education (which was always the goal of DeVos).

    One day they WOKE up to find a full-out attack on public education, books, and knowledge in general.

    People were asleep at the wheel. The only question is if people will open their eyes wider, stay alert, and understand what is really going on — or will they fall back asleep.

  22. The Moral Majority, their evangelical progeny, and the Koch Brothers’ funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have been attacking public education since the late 1970s and keep returning to the same themes – book banning, opposition to sex education of any kind, racism (opposition to integration), keeping schools (especially urban schools) under-funded, anti-unionism of teachers, sexism (keep this majority female system in its place), Christian nationalism forced on students, and more. The basic themes return time and again from billionaire political activists who want the public to pay for their children’s private school educations and to educate students to become unquestioning, robotic employees AND from evangelicals who want public schools to force their particular interpretation of the Bible onto impressionistic youngsters.

    These wolves cloak themselves in sheep’s clothing and run not only for school boards but also for state legislatures and Congress and even President. Defeated in one election, they’ll come back for another. Forewarned is forearmed.

  23. JoAnn, your story about touring your former neighborhood and School #44 broke my heart. Similar locations in TN are everywhere. And the whole world knows about our legislature and the shooting at Covenant Presbyterian School. However, the ‘Tennessee 3’ are charged up and ready. We’ve (all of us) “sunk so low that the bottom looks like up.” This will take some time.

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