For reasons that are not making sense to me, and a lot of other union members, NEA President Lilly Ekelsen Garcia has decided that NOW is the time and we must endorse Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary. This has led to a lot of head scratching, and “what the hecks?” from members who are up on the doings at NEA because at the last Representative Assembly (NEA RA) a measure was passed saying that there would be no early endorsement from the RA. I won’t go into the justification that NEA leadership is offering to defend this move. It does not matter if they can do it under the by-laws. This is a member organization, they need to have the members along with this. Here (hopefully briefly) is why I think this is a bad idea:
- It’s too soon. This is over one year out from the presidential vote. If Hillary’s campaign is about to implode from lack of funding, she needs to learn how to run a campaign more frugally, since she got herself in the pickle last time too. She’s got the money, she’s got name recognition and standing, and primary season, although getting pushed back, isn’t until next year.
- In addition, there may be another viable candidate entering the race, Vice President Joe Biden. SEIU is holding off endorsements for just this reason. We should too.
- Speaking of viable, given the rapidly changing dynamics of national presidential races, and this one in particular, it’s too soon to call that one. One super-well-financed candidate has dropped out on the GOP side so all the Super-PAC money in the world doesn’t seem to be buying love, or votes, this time around.
- NEA leadership is out ahead of the members and has not done enough to bring them along on this. That is POOR leadership. CTA has been talking about being member driven, and going to an organizing model. This isn’t that. This will hurt that effort.
- Bringing me to the upcoming Friedrichs suit, in which CTA may have to convince members to actively sign up, and depending on how it’s done, pay due to us. This will not help that effort. At all. It will also hurt if we lose agency fee altogether (although none of that goes for campaigns like this). We will need to be in an aggressive posture on developing membership. Having NEA leadership do something that many perceive is a back-door work around to stay in with the pols in Washington (I, by the way, do not see it in such crass terms) will make the job those of us working at the local level have to do.
I have not thrown my support to either candidate at this point, so I don’t have a fish to fry about that. I’m concerned about process, I’m concerned about the institution. If you are a member and you are too, drop a note to CTA leadership, and your NEA Board member.