Four years ago, a teaching colleague informed me there was no way Barack Obama was going to lose the presidential election then. A longtime friend, I had known this woman to be a diehard Denzel Washington fan. She always maintained he had the finest gait of any man on the planet. Until Obama came along.
“Mosher,” she said in 2008, “this election is all about the booty. There’s no way Obama can lose with the swag he’s got.”
“But what about Denzel?” I asked her.
“Denzel who?” she said.
Of course, Republicans at that time were not about to be outdone by any erotic political chicanery. To counter Obama’s sex appeal, they put up some booty-call of their own, Sarah Palin. She was the political wet-dream of almost every red-blooded, non-gay male National Rifle Association member, conservative or liberal — with her sassy, spank-your-ass attitude if you didn’t clean your gun properly. Republican presidential candidate John McCain probably received many more votes than he would have without Palin as his running mate. I mean, McCain’s booty versus Obama’s booty: Who you gonna call?
In 1920, when women got the right to vote, style, or “swag,” became, perhaps coincidentally, a larger political issue. The first president elected following women’s suffrage was Republican Warren Harding — a dapper, alleged womanizer, who believed in civil rights for African-Americans and an international arms treaty. His campaign was the first to use modern advertising and Hollywood celebrities.
“Our most dangerous tendency is to expect too much from the government and at the same time do too little for it,” he said at his inauguration, sounding uncannily similar to a newly-elected, womanizing Democrat president 40 years later, John Kennedy.
And even today, with all the scrub and rub-a-dub-dubbing of candidates’ images, it’s difficult to distinguish Democrats from Republicans, at least on certain issues. In public education, for example, the “smaller-government” Republicans, under President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind mandate, seized, with a socialistic fervor, federal control of our nation’s schools.
And normally “pro-worker” Democrats — under President Obama’s anti-teacher, anti-union Race to the Top education agenda — have been turning public schools over to the country’s corporations, in what researcher Diane Ravitch has called “the largest transference of public funds to the private sector in history.”
Hence, Republicans have been behaving like Democrats, Democrats like Republicans. Too often it’s about the swag rather than ideals.
For education, the past four years have been the most disastrous in 50 years. Obama and his errand boy, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, with their unique version of federal control over schools, have been responsible for that. One of their influences has been Democrat reformist and former Washington, D.C., schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee, star of the propaganda film Waiting for Superman, with her infamous scorched-earth policy toward education.
Considering all this, then, in the upcoming presidential election there is, for teachers, only one valid choice: “none of these candidates.” Hopefully this nonvote will send a message to all politicians that the ongoing, wrong-headed reformist mistreatment of teachers needs to stop. Once and for all.
And although no teacher should be voting for Mitt Romney, either, another one of my teaching friends recently told me she thought Mitt’s hairy arms, in his rolled-up sleeves, were really sexy.
Thus, if it comes down to Mitt’s hairy arms versus Obama’s booty, the election could prove very interesting. Especially without the teacher vote, don’t you think?
CHIP MOSHER is a simple classroom teacher