Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Faux Democrats

While perusing The Chalkboard, I noticed a comment about Cory Booker, the newly-elected Newark mayor, and “school choice.” That got me suspicious and curious, and a Google search led me to a point of view the NY Times had neglected to share.

Cory Booker is back – like a recurring disease. The former one-term city councilman whose wholly unproductive career has been artificially sustained by Black America’s worst enemies has amassed bundles of rightwing cash for his second assault on Newark city hall. Booker’s stealth mission on behalf of the far-right Bradley and Walton Family (Wal-Mart) Foundations, under the tutelage of the hyper-racist Manhattan Institute, once again threatens to provide the Right with a long-coveted showcase for privatization and capitalism in-the-raw in urban America.

Now I don't know about you, but to me, that doesn’t sound all that promising. This guy is backed by, of all people, the anti-labor, union-busting Walton-Wal-Mart family? Is there anyone besides John Stossel who thinks they mean to help working people? Does Stossel even believe that stuff?

Cory Booker, however, could just be the crest of a new wave. The Black Commentator goes on to speak of Democrat-in-name Booker’s background, as well as his support for vouchers:

The Black Commentator is proud of the role we played in exposing Cory Booker’s true political and financial backers, in 2002. The Cover Story of our inaugural issue, “
Fruit of the Poisoned Tree,” April 5, 2002, was the first published revelation anywhere of Booker's political genesis in the bowels of Milwaukee’s Bradley Foundation – George Bush’s favorite foundation, the outfit that birthed a fully financed Black school voucher “movement” out of thin air and hard cash. As an original board member of the Bradley-created (and now Bush-financed) Black Alliance for Educational Options, and a co-founder of the Newark voucher outfit Excellent Education for Everyone (E-3), Booker worked his way ever deeper into the Right labyrinth of mega-money, media manipulation, and raw corporate power...

Booker’s benefactors, the Walton Family and Bradley Foundations and the rest of the rightwing constellation in which he travels, are unalterably committed to wholesale privatization of education and everything else in the public sector they can lay their hands on. That’s what Booker doesn’t want the Black public to know.

It’s an uphill battle when you’re up against right-wing millions in a city that’s been rife with corruption forever. But despite the apparently new direction, Newark appears bound for more of the same, with a new anti-worker, union-busting flavor. Last I heard, Newark was one of the very few locales that paid less than NYC for teachers. When you have to worry about your staff defecting to fun city, aside from the cesspool of corruption that's plagued your own city forever, hopes for decent public education are not likely to materialize into anything worthwhile.

Have you ever noticed how it's free to get into Jersey but they charge you eight bucks to get out? Everyone complains, but in the end they always reach for their wallets, realizing it will be well worth it.
Some things you just have to pay for. To my mind, good teachers are a high priority--even higher than escaping New Jersey (Now I kid about Jersey, but I also work there often, and guess which nearby location is the target of their jokes?).

More frightening than Jersey, though, is this precedent--if Republicans screw up the country so badly that no one can support them or their policies, they can simply back Democrats who will serve up the same "death to the middle-class" policies GW and his rubber-stamp Congress have been dispensing for five years. Now, instead of wasting time with smokescreens like gay marriage, they can just smile and say "We're Democrats."

Apparently, it can work.
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