June 23, 2014

THE REACTIONARY PARTY:

Rich Democrats go from challenging the status quo to embracing it (Matt Bai, June 19, 2014, Yahoo News)

The thinking behind the Democracy Alliance was to create a venture capital fund for new progressive groups. (The Center for American Progress and Media Matters for America were two of the charter recipients.) A central tenet of the alliance in those days was that it wanted nothing to do with the Democratic Party or elections, per se. The alliance was about creating a bolder alternative to the status quo.

It didn't take long, though, for the alliance to deviate from that course. The Silicon Valley and Wall Street contributors who were most focused on modernization started to drift away, exhausted by the endless conference calls and the knee-jerk resistance to any rethinking of the liberal agenda. The remaining "partners," as the alliance calls them, were overwhelmingly aging boomers who clung to 1960s orthodoxies.

Eventually, the alliance became, essentially, a convener and funder of the party establishment. It welcomed several big unions to the table and took up side collections for candidates. And now it's formalized that role by electing Stocks as its chairman, replacing Rob McKay, heir to the Taco Bell fortune.

To be clear, the problem here has nothing to do with Stocks personally, whom I've never met, and who has been described to me as a thoughtful and open-minded guy. It also has nothing to do with teachers generally, many of whom are nothing short of heroic, and who are struggling to adapt to the turmoil in their industry, same as the rest of us.

But if you were going to sit down and make a list of political powerhouses that have been intransigent and blindly doctrinaire in the face of change, you'd have a hard time finding a better example than the country's largest teachers union. (I guess you could point to the National Rifle Association, if that's really the kind of company you want to keep.) Just last week, a California judge, in ruling against the union, condemned its age-old protections of incompetent teachers, saying the union's position not only was unconstitutional but also "shocks the conscience."

Don't just listen to the judge on this, though. Heed the words of Nick Hanauer, a Seattle-based venture capitalist and school reform advocate, who wrote in a 2012 email that subsequently became public: "It is impossible to escape the painful reality that we Democrats are now on the wrong side of every education reform issue. ... There can be no doubt in any reasonable person's mind that the leadership of our party and most of its elected members are stooges for the teachers union, the ring leaders in all this nonsense."
Posted by at June 23, 2014 2:39 PM
  
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