Analysis: Have The Unions Benefited From The DeVos Confirmation Fight?
Analysis: Have the Unions Benefited From the DeVos Confirmation Fight?
It has been a month since Betsy DeVos was narrowly confirmed as the secretary of education, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the deciding vote. Despite facing significant opposition, the teachers unions were unsuccessful in blocking her confirmation.
However, the union leaders believe that they have come out stronger as a result. According to Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, the public is now more engaged and vocal in supporting public education. She stated, "The public in public education has never been more visible or more vocal, and it is not going back in the shadows."
Lily Eskelsen García, the president of the National Education Association, also expressed optimism, pointing out that they have gained hundreds of thousands of new activists through their campaign against DeVos. They have assembled a valuable contact list from the over 1 million emails and 40,000 phone calls made to the Senate during the confirmation process.
These numbers are impressive, indicating a level of opposition to DeVos that has not been seen in many years for a Cabinet nominee. However, there are still two important questions to consider regarding the unions’ campaign against DeVos: (1) Was their strategy effective? and (2) Will it lead to more successful campaigns in the future?
At the most basic level, the answer to the first question is no. The primary goal of the campaign was to prevent DeVos from becoming the secretary of education, which they failed to do. Although the volume of activism was significant, it did not achieve the desired outcome.
However, there are other factors to consider. The unions have been more successful in mobilizing their members to participate in political action through contacting members of Congress. In the past, they struggled to reach a significant portion of their members, but this campaign has improved their ability to communicate with them.
On the other hand, it is important to consider the context. Senators receive millions of emails and phone calls every year from constituents and interest groups, so the volume of communication received during this campaign may not have had a significant impact on their decision-making.
Furthermore, it is unclear how many individuals were responsible for the million emails sent by the NEA. Were they all unique messages from different people, or were some individuals more active in sending multiple emails? These questions raise doubts about the actual level of engagement and activism among the unions’ supporters.
Both Weingarten and Eskelsen García are confident that their coalition against DeVos will continue to be active in future advocacy efforts. They predict a grassroots movement similar to the Tea Party, with sustained energy and action.
However, the level of engagement among activists is crucial. It remains to be seen whether attending rallies and marches will effectively contribute to the unions’ political action committees. Additionally, the unions’ track record in using their funds and supporting candidates may raise questions among their new supporters about their decision-making processes.
It is possible that these new supporters, motivated by their opposition to DeVos, may delve deeper into the unions and their policies. They may begin to question how these powerful organizations make decisions, handle their finances, and choose which candidates to support or oppose. It may even lead to some of these individuals seeking leadership positions within the unions.
Ultimately, only time will tell how committed these newfound activists are and if their involvement will benefit the teachers unions in the long run.
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