I wrote here about helping with a campaign to pass a public school bond issue.
This is a majority Republican town, and this is the first time I’ve worked with the same group of people we usually work against in elections. I think The Committee for the school levy is made up almost entirely of Republicans because the leader of the effort is an executive at a manufacturer here and he’s a Republican donor, voter and GOP Party person. His employer has given him as much company time on this as he needs because it’s a genuinely local company, they’re privately held and they believe the school issue is important to their ability to attract sales people and managers. The (now-retired) CEO of this company asked the school board to request an evaluation by the state public school facilities commission on the feasibility of renovating versus replacing our schools in 2009 and the state came back with all but the high school as “replace” so that drove their decision to head up a new school building campaign rather than a renovation.
We meet in the company conference room. It’s nice to have this big local employer behind something I support (for once) with all these fabulous resources. I could get used to it. I now understand the lure of wing nut welfare.
I’m finding that the Republicans involved in the campaign bring up the fact that I’m a Democrat a lot more than is strictly necessary. I’m not clear why this is. My sense is it’s to let me know that while we may be working together on this there will be no concessions as far as Conservative Principles. After they tell me I’m a Democrat they bring up the Kasich tax cuts. I think they keep hitting on this with me to let me know that while they’re for this particular tax increase, they’re still solidly in the “job creators get huge income tax cuts so as to grow the economy” camp. Their argument is that Kasich cut income taxes so therefore people should support increased property taxes for schools. It’s a wash!
I don’t agree with it as a practical matter and I also think it’s a lousy campaign tactic. This is a school district where 40% of the kids qualify for free or reduced lunch. Income tax isn’t a huge issue for the younger, lower income “sporadic voter” parents we need to reach if we want a winning turnout, although it’s clearly a huge issue for the Republicans on The Committee. The fact is Kasich’s income tax cut won’t benefit those families at all and Kasich increased sales taxes, so the parents I hope to reach will pay more taxes, not less. In addition, we have lost 1.6 million a year in state operating funding for our public school system under the Fox News personality-turned-governor. Despite my concerns, they’re in love with this “it’s a wash!” idea, so hopefully it flies with higher-income Republicans like them because they’re not budging.
Although I think their tax argument is dumb and based more on partisan fervor than facts or voter demographics or persuasiveness, I don’t hate all of their campaign ideas. One thing they’re saying that appeals to me is that the schools we use now were built beginning in 1917, someone paid for them, and it wasn’t the people who use the schools now. “It’s Our Turn” is the slogan.
One thing I hate about modern conservatism is what I see as the dead-beat, moocher nature of the Republican approach to replacing or maintaining public assets. I’m baffled by people who rely on a public asset like a public school (or park or swimming pool or road or library) yet seem to believe those things spring from the ground spontaneously the day they arrive and then disappear the moment they personally and individually no longer need a 2nd grade classroom or a walk in a park or a swim or a route to work or a library book. I like this slogan. Harkening back to citizens of yore is also a good approach because local history is a hobby here. The newspaper does a monthly feature with photos from the Olden Days and there is a section of the public library devoted to town history.
I asked for suggestions on the campaign in the last post and The Committee picked up one of the suggestions I made (given to me by a commenter here) that goes to the It’s Our Turn idea, and it’s this:
August 9, 2013 at 12:23 pm
Is there anything interesting to be gained from looking into, publishing past efforts the community made into building schools? When was the first one built, how many since, old photos of ground-breakings, graduations, etc. Schools did provide built foci for communities etc and emphasizing that historical and ongoing effort might help with some people. Might pull one or a few short priming newspaper articles out of it. An effort, a commitment rooted in the past and builing toward the future, that sort of thing. Dick and Jane through the periods and generations?
It’s about to get weirder because I’ll be working on GOTV with the woman who was the local volunteer lead for Romney’s campaign. I meet with her next week. I know her (slightly) and she’s a bona fide wing nut, so we’ll see how that goes.