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.
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.