- George Korda is a political analyst for WATE-TV, hosts “State Your Case” from noon to 2 p.m. Sundays on WOKI-FM Newstalk 98.7, and is President of Korda Communications, a public relations and communications consultancy.
Voters are warned, like children about a haunted house, that the putrid and pestilential hand of politics reaches out to corrupt the otherwise noble and virgin… wait… for the election!
The debate over non-partisan school board races versus politically partisan school board races – and in Knoxville, city council elections as well – centers on an idealistic view that this is a bad idea for the politics of ‘be involved in certain political contests. In reality, it’s like believing that if we don’t like the taste of salty seawater, it will get fresh if we want it to be fresh.
Mask Mandates and Critical Race Theory
Every engine of change is fueled by some form of fuel, and the growing discussions and actions regarding partisan school board elections are fueled by critical race theory and COVID-19 mask mandates. These are emotional and hypersensitive topics for many Americans, and lend themselves to simplistic positions that many people feel comfortable gravitating towards: people are classified as either all bad or just honorable, depending on the views of the people. observers.
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Another element of the partisan election campaign is the election for governor of Virginia, in which former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe made a statement at the end of September that probably cost him the election: “I don’t think the parents should tell schools what to teach. “Virginia – and its non-partisan school boards – have become a subject of national attention.
Another act drawing attention to school boards was the backlash by US Attorney General Merrick Garland in October to a letter from the National School Boards Association regarding possible “domestic terrorism” at school board meetings. Garland was quick to announce that the FBI and US lawyers would be involved in local law enforcement. But many Americans saw this as an intimidating effort to keep parents from speaking out on issues that the Biden administration sympathizes with (the National School Boards Association later repudiated its own letter, but according to reports, 17 affiliated with the association and severed ties with the organization – taking their money with them).
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This leads to new interest and attention to what school boards do and don’t do. In politics, where there is misfortune, there is opportunity.
In the red state of Tennessee, the majority Republican legislature, sensing an opportunity to win a local election, passed the bill allowing partisan school board elections.
Primary for school board candidates
In November, the Knox County Republican Party informed the county electoral commission that the party intended to hold a primary in 2022 to select candidates for school board seats. The county Democratic Party then said it would follow suit.
Tennessee is not alone. Florida is considering partisan school board elections. An Arizona state senator is promoting the idea. North Carolina has a law allowing partisan elections. Further discussions and actions will follow.
Partisan resentment against non-partisan races erupted during the Knoxville city council election in November. Politically, Knoxville has over the past 20 years become a blue island in the increasingly red ocean of Tennessee.
When traditional tactics don’t work, change your game, because there is nothing to lose. This year, Republicans have changed tack, fielding candidates on a partisan list in officially non-partisan elections. Everything was lost, but voter interest was much higher: turnout doubled compared to the election four years earlier. For those who constantly grapple with voter laxity, this should be a victory.
It is argued that there is no Republican or Democratic way to teach math, conduct a science experiment, learn to read, pave a road, or build a bridge, so partisanship is unnecessary. If so, there is also no partisan way at the federal government level to collect taxes, manage the park system, or defend the country’s borders.
The point is that there are different philosophies of government, and voters in school boards, city council, etc. have a right to know the governance philosophy of people running for office. This is because there are differences in the way the left and the right view the basic issues affecting people’s lives.
Principles must be consistent
If someone says they wouldn’t say the same things, take the same positions, or stand for the same values because they have to run on a partisan basis, then they probably shouldn’t run. at all. The policy changes, but the principles must be consistent.
If someone is afraid to take a stand on principled issues because they will not gain the support of a political party or face opposition from a political party, again, they do not. probably shouldn’t show up. If someone doesn’t want to be a candidate aligned with either party, they can run as independent.
If a candidate for school board, city council, or any other office is going to vote in a Republican or Democratic primary, or has an allegiance or is in concert with the philosophy of either party, then he does not. There is no reason why these allegiances and philosophies should not be known to the voters.
Candidates, you might as well declare yourself. You are in politics whether you like it or not.
George Korda is a political analyst for WATE-TV, hosts “State Your Case” from noon to 2 p.m. Sundays on WOKI-FM Newstalk 98.7, and is President of Korda Communications, a public relations and communications consultancy.