In 2011, in the heart of the Governor Kasich’s first tumultuous year in office, I wrote an article titled “Republican teachers are now extinct“. I took a look back at that article in this past week as we are leading up to the election that we’ve been looking forward to remembering since that time and found that my words ring true even more today than they did back then. As we enter the final days of the Kasich Administration’s ominous reign over Ohio, I want to once again urge my “Republican” family and friends (yes, I’m talking to you, P) to step back from who they think they are and take an honest look at their political belief structure to discover who they really are in today’s political landscape. PB readers, please challenge your family and friends to do the same before they cast their votes on Tuesday.
Here is that article that I composed while on the floor of the National Education Association’s Annual Meeting on July 3, 2011:
The political landscape has shifted and it is time for Americans to step back and re-evaluate their political affiliation. I will readily admit that this is a purely partisan act that is in direct response to the partisan acts of Ohio’s 129th General Assembly and Governor John Kasich, since the very word partisan means beings partial to a party. The two dominant pieces of legislation to be passed by Republicans and signed by the Republican Governor were Senate Bill 5, the union killer, and House Bill 153, the state’s “budget bill.” Both bills were prime examples of partisan politics at its best as evidenced by the debates and voting results.
Throughout the process, I’ve heard many teachers begin public statements by stating “I’m a Republican educator and I’m speaking against Senate Bill 5 (or other related topic).” Today I hope I heard it for the last time.
I don’t care what it is that you learned growing up that has convinced you that you must retain that party label, because it no longer applies. If you believe in public education, the greatest social program in the world, then you can no longer call yourself a Republican.
You are now a Democrat. And it’s okay.
What major hot-button issue has kept you from redefining?
If you have called yourself a Republican because of strong moral beliefs about abortion and have crossed party lines to support public education and associated social programs, the Republican Party has left you. You need to change your affiliation for voting to the Democratic Party. The Republican Party, not just in Ohio, but nationally, has abandoned the public education system and you in favor of privatization.
Instead of being a Republican that leans left, you are now a Democrat that leans right. And it’s okay. The Democratic Party welcomes your participation.
Speaking as a supporter of public education and public sector employees in general, you need to accept that the Republican Party unambiguously severed ties with you this year.
No issue this year  has more clearly demonstrated the division among party lines as has public sector employment, including education. Legislators have introduced bills about abortion, voting rights, oil drilling in parks, and guns in bars. And yet, none of that legislation has resulted in the extreme partisan debate and voting results that Senate Bill 5 and the State Budget bill produced. Watch the Senate debate about SB5 and you’ll find that those Republicans that did oppose the bill weren’t doing so in an act of support for public workers, but instead for procedural or legal concerns.
So take down your “Republican Educator Against SB5″ sign, throw away your button, and don’t continue to hold it up as a badge of honor that you are somehow going against your party to support public employees – you’re not. The Republican Party left no doubt this year that public employees, and therefore you, teacher, are not one of their constituents as they heard you speak, read your letters and emails, and promptly ignored all of it.
Sadly, this scenario is not limited to educators. “Republican” firefighters and “Republican” police officers have also been abandoned and must begin to identify with their new political party. Like educators, these respected public employees did not choose to be thrown under the bus, but are instead victims of wealthy campaign donors that are now directing the Republican party.
It’s time to let go. They’ve broken up with you. Cut the cord. Ended the relationship. And lest you think there’s hope of reconciliation, the divorce papers are posted online as evidence of this very messy public breakup (Search SB 5).
So quit using the oxymoronic titles of “Republican” anything.
Today, begin to call yourself by your proper title.
I am proud to be a teacher.
I am proud to be a firefighter.
I am proud to be a police officer.
I am proud to be a public employee.
I am proud to be a member of the Democratic Party.
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