There are two links in this post which I hope you’ll read in their entirety.

With all that is swirling around the “news” universe, this post is motivated by local action threatening local public education. This week was the week that the National School Boards Association, felt it necessary to sound the alarm to all of us about loutish behavior engaged in by a few people people who should know better, but represent a danger we as a society should not tolerate.

More below, about the title of the post, and the specific motivation for this particular post.


Elections for school boards are traditionally low-hanging political ‘fruit’.  In relative terms, few people pay attention to the issues and vote in such elections and mischief can be and is done.  There is an important school election in my school district Nov. 2, 2021 – an off year.  In our last local school election, 2019, also an off year, it appears that fewer than 10% of the over 65,000 eligible voters actually voted for candidates.

In my school district, this Fall, there are 9 candidates for the available school board positions.  You have to actively seek out information about them.  Four of them appear quite clearly to be what I would call ‘bullet ballot’ stealth candidates, who are clearly running together, supposedly non-partisan, but unquestionably partisan, and who seem basically anti-mask, anti-vaxx, and anti diversity, and opposed to a needed increase in the local school tax.  In such local elections, little attention is usually paid, which makes them even more dangerous than the rest.  This is where individual networks make the essential difference.  Every election has consequences, long after.  We are certainly learning this.

Know what is happening in your district this November, and vote, well informed.


We all know louts.  You may have a different name for the ones you know, but they’re all basically the same.

As I was thinking about the protests against masks and vaccinations etc, now encroaching on schools everywhere, I got to thinking about patterns which I think are relevant for all of us to consider, as we need to confront loutish behavior.

This is not a matter of ‘everybody does it’.  We are talking about a small minority.  But, today there is a pretty clear distinction in partisan political behavior over a long period of time.  There are two clear examples of this, in my opinion.

In 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote against George W. Bush for President of the United States, and were it not for a Supreme Court decision in mid-December of 2000, where Gore conceded for the sake of the country, he should have been President.  Any reader likely knows more about this history and can fill in the blanks.  Gore was vilified by some for not fighting longer; he valued more a continuation of our Democracy.

Twenty years later, In 2020, Joe Biden won both popular and electoral vote for President, and the losing candidate and his acolytes are still declaring the election was stolen, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary.  We’ve all been through January 6 and all the rest of the subsequent nonsense.  Laws are being changed in many places to make voting more difficult and easier to overturn results.  The strategy is very clear: to make it easier for one side to manipulate future elections.

Re “lout”.

We’ve witnessed loutish behavior before – it was especially obvious after the election of Barack Obama in 2008, and the subsequent tea-party eruptions as the Affordable Care Act and such were being fought meeting-to-meeting in our local districts.

Make no mistake, louts won, back then.  But they weren’t winners.

I was thinking, today, about our national Congress, Senate and Executive Branch, the highest elected officials in this nation.  There are about 538 of them in all, and within their ranks are the exact same kinds of actors we would see in any community of similar size.  It is easy to despise the Congress we ourselves have elected.  It is “Congress R US”, truly.  We get exactly what we deserve.

Recently my friend Jeff sent over an article from his University Bulletin.  It is short, but very well worth a read.  Here it is.  Put yourself in the room described in the article about a real situation, and ask yourself, “what would I have done?”  Citizens like all of us have considerable power.  Now’s time to begin to exercise it…but we need to get off the couch!


“Lout” has a very simple definition: generally, it is considered an uncouth and aggressive man or boy.

All of us know louts.  Of course, as we know well, there are women louts as well.  And all sorts of variations of bullying, in my opinion, a very close cousin of lout.  “Jerk” is another printable word that comes to mind.

I am particularly disturbed about the stupid and dangerous behavior in or near the school setting.

I’ve said often, and I can prove it, that I’ve spent an entire lifetime in public education.  At the front-end, both parents were already veteran teachers by the time I was born.  Today, 81 years later, one grandchild is in a local high school; one daughter is a substitute teacher in a public school; another daughter is a Middle School Principal and has been a public school administrator for years.  In between, I was a public school teacher, and then a long-time representative of public school teachers.  I haven’t seen it all, but I’ve seen lots.

Years ago, school districts took on bullying behavior successfully within their schools.  Now the bullying is happening outside, and today we have to be the antidote for this development.

Be aware, and go to work.

COMMENTS (more at the end of this section): 

from SAK: As usual I enjoyed & was “informed” by your post.

I would, however, quibble with one sentence if I may & it is this: ” It is “Congress R US”, truly.  We get exactly what we deserve.”

Somehow I don’t think the system is working as well as you hope. Congress & most other elected chambers everywhere are not perfectly representative & they are not a miniature mirror image of the society at large. Compare the elected chambers to the general population on the basis of the racial makeup, the median worth or income, & in the case of the Senate even the geographical distribution (state size). I am no out & out optimist à la Voltaire’s Candide and certainly agree that louts abound but in general & as a whole we do deserve much better than we get!

Best wishes & warm regards.

Response from Dick: Thanks for feedback.  To borrow a phrase, “the fly in the ointment” in the U.S. is and has always been the careless use (or non-use) of the franchise: the right to vote.  Even in the marquee elections, as for President, a third or more of the people who are eligible to vote, don’t take the time to even cast a ballot.  Some might think that they are sending a message with their non-vote, but the message isn’t quite what they believe it is.  They are “voting” but in a manner inimical to their own interests.  As I mention, in the most recent school board election here, 10% or likely less of those eligible actually voted for the representatives charged with administering a school district with over 18,000 students.  I could go on.  Ours is a very sloppy democracy, and we will collectively pay for this in the long run, including those who choose to exploit the system as they see it.  Thanks again.  Always great to hear fro you.

from Marion: Good stuff, Dick! Thanks much!

from Jeff: Good one Dick.

from Tony: Great information.  Timely.  Thanks.

from Norm:  You were generous with your response to your conservative friends regarding the matter of loutish behavior [see comment from Jim, below].  He seems to consider Thompsons totally political dumb-ass behavior in Hugo as just as serious as the Trump cult followers trying to over throw the election let alone all of the pressures that the man-child was putting on the important members of the executive office to do just that in the days that preceded January 6.

That was not only loutish behavior on the part of those who stormed the capitol and Trump as well but it was treason behavior as well.
Yes, Thompson is a complete selfish dumb-ass whose behavior in Hugo and his subsequent political dumb-ass justifications as “poor me ain’t it just awful that they is a criticizing me because I am black (that claim has become so f–king tiresome in such cases!) hurt us at the polls in 2020 and will also do that at the polls in 2022 as I have repeatedly said all along.
On the other hand, he did not try to facilitate and overthrow of the Constitution that he had taken an oath to protect as the insecure, ignorant, arrogant, five-time draft dodger did!
Response from Dick: Norm speaks of a local Minnesota elected state legislator, essentially now operating as a lone wolf kind of individual.
from Flo: An important reminder of my reasons for running successfully for two terms on the school board way back when! The same crap is happening all over, this time about “Critical Race Theory”.  I’m too tired to run, but I will be in closer contact with our Superintendent and Board members. It’s really scary times here in Hubbard County.
from Brian: Great post, yay!
from Dick: Oct 11 I asked my school administrator daughter a “pop/top of the head” question.  I said it’s become my opinion that our two “tribes” in the current U.S. seem basically the “we’s” and the “me’s” – the first tend to look at themselves as part of a community, greater than themselves; the second cannot conceive of any interest other than their own.  She seemed to resonate with my general perception.  At this point in time, I asked, how would you see your public community divided at this moment. She hardly hesitated.  about 60-40, the 60 being we.  It was the first time I’d posed the question; I had no opinion since I’ve been out of the profession for many years.



3 replies
  1. Melvin Giles
    Melvin Giles says:

    Thanks for the insightful messages, in particularly, “Know what is happening in your district this November, and vote, well informed” and “It is easy to despise the Congress we ourselves have elected. It is “Congress R US”, truly. We get exactly what we deserve”. Peace
    May Peace Prevail On Earth (MPPOE)!

  2. Jim Klein
    Jim Klein says:

    Dick, I couldn’t agree more with you that the loutish behavior needs to stop. The thing I would add, though, is that I hope that it will stop on all sides. Right now, it seems to be the right wing that is engaging in most of it, but that isn’t always the case. And when the loutish behavior is coming from leftist or progressive activists (think, “Hugo, summer, 2020”) we tend to do just as conservatives do and make excuses for our “cousins”. In point of fact, there is very little in the way of loutish behavior that liberals/progressives/’the left’ didn’t invent in the first place… much of it, as you know, in the ’60s, and a good bit of it both earlier, and since. Even when we’re being loutish we’re more creative than they are…! I used to be on the “Social Justice Committee” at the Unitarian Universalist church in Mahtomedi and, as a member of that committee, I would get invited to BLM planning session circa 2015 that took place at another UU church in the metro. (These were the sessions, it later turned out, that local law enforcement had infiltrated…) Anyway, the whole point of these meetings was to PLAN how protesters were next going to be loutish. The actions at the Mall of America, and at the MSP airport, were both planned there, as well as most of the marching on interstates, as well as a lot of ‘crashing’ of meetings of public officials (think, “any time Nekima Levy-Pounds was captured on video leading a crowd that was yelling at office holders at a meeting” circa 2015-6). And most of us, on the left, made lame excuses on the order of “none of these actions are as bad as the evils they are protesting”. The louts on the right these days make the same rationalizations. If you try very hard to truly empathize and put yourself in their shoes, I think you’ll see that the rationalization surely makes as much sense to them when they are being loutish as it does to us when it’s folks on our side of things. About the only thing I’ll say for us lefties is that we seem to need to PLAN these things – With the exception of a very few among us, it doesn’t come naturally to be a lout, so we need organizers and planners (the meetings I used to get invited to sometimes featured a self-described “anarchist” from out of town). I used to get criticized by some of my lefty friends for not being OK with these tactics, and now many of the same individuals complain about right wing behavior with respect to Covid mandates, school board decisions, abortion laws, and so on. It’s really NOT different. So I wish those on our side would quit trying to have it both ways. I don’t think it’s really even a thought-through thing. It simply FEELS more justified when people do unreasonable things in service of ‘our’ causes than it does when done in service of “their” causes. But it’s not. And felling that way instead of thinking it through is a downward spiral. We need to be the ‘bigger people’ and stop doing ugly, dangerous, and foolish things. Unilaterally. That’s not unilateral disarmament… Quite the opposite. It’s tactically seizing the high ground. By the way, I ultimatley quit the committee I was on, and then the church, too. The coming of Trump made being a lout so fashionable it started to get too close to being one of those “religious dogmas” that UU’s insist they don’t have any of…! 😉

    • dickbernard
      dickbernard says:

      Jim, I appreciate your comments and tend far more to agree with you than disagree. One of my Dad’s stock saying was “two wrongs don’t make a right”. It resonates with me. On the other hand, my career in the labor movement began almost exactly 50 years ago, and one of the first ‘teachers’ on tactics (through trainers I had) was the famed Saul Alinsky whose folks were the powerless. He sought to help them achieve a tiny bit of parity of power with omnipotent management – they were people that cleaned the toilets at airports and the like. A dozen years later I saw folks like Newt Gingrich borrowing the tactics of Alinsky backed by big money. Right here, as I type, is a DVD someone gave me years ago “Boogey Man, the story of Lee Atwater’…. You’ve heard of him, doubtless. I’ve never watched the film, but it’s still available, from 2008.
      My modus operandi has always been bridge building, rather than burning. For those whose lust is power, a bridge building adversary is a pushover.
      There does need to be a deep conversation within our entire society about the futility of winning at all costs. Divided we fall.
      Many thanks for weighing in. If you want to read more about my personal thoughts, enter the words Uncomfortable Essays in the blog search box, and it will bring you to my own Uncomfortable Essays to the Peace and Justice Community written in 2008-09, the same year as Boogey Man came out. I stopped at 17 essays totaling about 47 pages, but you’ll get the idea of where I was coming from, and I was considered a leader in the movement then. Would be great to touch base in person.


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