Why You Should Bother to Vote

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

There is no denying the fact that this Presidential election cycle has more closely resembled a reality TV show than a vigorous debate on issues concerning the future of our country.

Stories of deleted emails, misogyny, hacking, racism, pandering to corporate interests and welshing on business agreements have dominated the landscape in mass media and social media. 

To be sure, this process of electing our next President has caused significant disillusion amongst many Americans.  Some have become so frustrated that they are considering not voting at all on November 8.  “Why Should I Bother?  It is all going to be a mess either way,” is a statement I heard recently from a colleague of mine.

With well over 600,000 members in our state,and thousands of other friends and family members who support us, our teacher’s union can be a decisive voting block in the election on November 8.

Even if you think this year’s Presidential election is little more than a choice between the lesser of two evils, the election still matters a great deal and is a process in which ALL Americans should participate.

And, regardless of Presidential politics, there are several other important positions in our government up for election on November 8 for which your vote will have a significant impact.

The fact is that for unionists and educators like ourselves, the results of election day 2016 can make or break the future of organized labor and public education in our state and in our country.

For example...

During the next Presidential administration, at least one Supreme Court judge will be named to the court.

Many remember the now famous Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association Supreme Court case.  In this case, the plaintiffs sought to allow freeloaders to receive all the benefits of being in a union without having to pay for them. 

Last spring the court ruled 4-4 on this case.  This split judgment allowed a lower court ruling in favor of unions to stand.  It was widely understood that had Justice Antonin Scalia not passed away before the verdict was presented to the public, the Supreme Court would have ruled against the unions 5-4 and changed organized labor in this country forever.  It was that close.

The next President will appoint the justice who will be the deciding vote when similar cases are brought to the court in the future.  Many such cases are being heard in the lower courts right now.

In short, the future strength and status of organized labor may very well depend on who is elected as our next President.

Former Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill once famously said, “All politics are local.”  This statement is never more true than in the discussion of public school education in our state.

Many of the recent so-called reforms to public education, such as APPR and the changes to teacher certification requirements, were not implemented by our state Board of Regents and state Education Department on their own.  They were put in place as a result of mandates created through legislation enacted by our state congress.

Salaries and benefits for teachers and staff who work in public education have stagnated for almost a decade.  In our state, this is due, in part, to a property tax cap law passed by our state congress that does not allow local districts to call for a simple majority vote to obtain the funds they need from their community to run their district in a manner that best suits the needs of their children.

It is in the best interests of EVERYONE involved in public education to vote for candidates in our state government who understand the negative impact current laws have had on public education and who intend on passing new legislation to address these problems.

With well over 600,000 members in our state, and thousands of other friends and family members who support us, our teacher’s union can be a decisive voting block in the election on November 8.

There’s no doubt that both major party Presidential candidates have given us many reasons to be disappointed in them and the attack ads and campaign rhetoric from both sides has deplorable.

However, the answer to the question posed to me by my colleague is simple: You MUST bother to vote on November 8.  You must because the stakes are too high to sit this one out.  The results of this election will have a major impact on the lives of all unionists and all educators for years to come.   Get out and vote!

This article was written by Joseph Romano - LUT Corresponding Secretary

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