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The union was founded in Chicago with Margaret Haley credited as its founder and first leader.[2][3]. P. Starr, “The Anti-Entrenchment Agenda,” American Prospect, June 26, 2019, https://prospect.org/justice/anti-entrenchment-agenda/; and P. Starr, Entrenchment: Wealth, Power, and the Constitution of Democratic Societies (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2019). Trump has attacked the media, trampled on congressional oversight, and sought foreign intervention into our elections. In Europe before World War I, many traditional conservatives were haunted by the prospect of extending equal voting rights to the working class. Efforts to create a multiracial democracy after the Civil War generated violent resistance, especially in the South. Congress twice shut down the government, and at one point, it pushed the country to the brink of default. He specializes in the study of Europe and the history of democracy. The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is the second largest teacher's labor union in America (the largest being the National Education Association). These fears, moreover, have fueled a troubling development that threatens our democracy: a growing Republican aversion to losing elections. [14] In 2014, Weingarten announced that AFT was ending a five-year funding relationship between the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the AFT Innovation Fund. But over time, that early small state bias evolved into a massive overrepresentation of rural states, affecting three important countermajoritarian institutions: the Electoral College is slightly biased toward sparsely populated states; the US Senate is heavily biased toward sparsely populated states; and because the Senate must approve Supreme Court nominations, the Supreme Court is also somewhat biased toward sparsely populated states. Thus, American democracy will only be secure when both major parties are committed to the democratic rules of the game. 0 Million – one out of every three Americans age 6+ - played golf (on-course or off-course), watched the sport or read about it in 2019. American society has transformed dramatically over the last half-century. The plaintiffs argued that unions were violating their constitutional right to free speech by forcing them to either support union-favored causes and candidates or lose access to important job benefits such as disability and life insurance.[25]. them—including demographic information, their attitudes about the No Child Left Behind Act, their impressions about how to improve American education, their perceptions about a wide range of teacher-related issues, and their future plans. Closer to home, Southern Democrats reacted in a similar manner to the Reconstruction-era enfranchisement of African Americans, which was mandated by the Fifteenth Amendment. The growing diversity of the American electorate has made it harder for the Republican Party to win national majorities. This may permit what Princeton sociologist Paul Starr calls the entrenchment in power of an electoral minority23—primarily voters in rural, conservative, and largely white areas. In the first year of divided government under President Trump, Americans witnessed the longest government shutdown in US history, a fabricated national emergency aimed at openly defying Congress, and an impeachment process in which the White House flouted subpoenas and other mechanisms of congressional oversight. M. Tushnet, “Constitutional Hardball,” Georgetown University Law Center (2004): https://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1557&.... America's K-12 schools have never been more diverse, with nonwhite students now outnumbering whites, but efforts to diversify the nation's teaching corps haven't kept pace. 15. As recently as 1992, when Bill Clinton was elected president, 73 percent of American voters were white Christians. And like autocrats in Hungary, Russia, and Turkey, he has sought to deploy the machinery of government for personal, partisan, and even undemocratic ends. Maintaining our traditional voting system—one that has worked in the past—doesn’t seem very authoritarian. In September 2008, she announced the launch of the AFT Innovation Fund, a union-led, private foundation-supported effort to provide grants to AFT unions to develop and implement innovations in education. During Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race, Brian Kemp, then Georgia’s secretary of state and now its governor, tried to use the law to invalidate tens of thousands of registration forms, most of which were from African Americans.20 He also purged hundreds of thousands of voters from the rolls.21 Although these initiatives are less egregious than Jim Crow, the underlying logic is similar: parties representing fearful, declining majorities resort, in desperation, to dirty politics. When changing conditions make it impossible to practice democracy as we did in the past, like when a pandemic makes in-person voting dangerous, failing to act—failing to update our rules and procedures—can itself subvert democracy. To protect voters’ health and the fairness of the election, a vote-by-mail option should be available to all Americans who need it. Unwilling to lose, Southern Democrats stripped the right to vote from almost half the population, ushering in nearly a century of authoritarianism in the South. Sensing this decline, many Republicans have grown fearful about the future. Our democratic norms were erected by and for a political community that was overwhelmingly white and Christian—and which forcibly excluded millions of African Americans in the South. US Const. On July 14, 2008, Randi Weingarten was elected to succeed him. The last two Republican presidents came to office despite having lost the popular vote—and it could easily happen again in 2020. Barack Obama’s presidency—barely a generation after the end of Jim Crow—was an unmistakable sign of our democratic progress. B. Highton, “Voter Identification Laws and Turnout in the United States,” Annual Review of Political Science 20, no. Well-regarded global democracy indexes—such as Freedom House,2 Varieties of Democracy,3 and the Economist Intelligence Unit4—all show an erosion of American democracy since 2016. 1 (2017): 149-67, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-polisci-051215-022822. By Mahauganee Shaw Bonds and Sydney Freeman, Jr. By the Editors, Introducing Campus Uprisings [4] In 2017, membership was around 1.6 million, and the union had due income of $35 million. Dimming electoral horizons and growing perceptions of an existential threat have encouraged a “win now at any cost” mentality. AFT membership was 59,000 in 1960, 200,000 in 1970, and 550,000 in 1980. And surveys and anecdotal information show that teachers of color can feel the sting of bias in schools as easily as minority students in mostly white educational environments. Wherever the virus exists, the risks of in-person voting will lead many Americans to forgo voting altogether. art. [30], In 2010, four American film documentaries, most notably Waiting for Superman, portrayed the AFT as hurting children by opposing charter schools and protecting incompetent teachers. Fifty years later, a survey found those numbers to be 33 percent and 49 percent, respectively.10 According to a 2016 Pew Survey, 49 percent of Republicans and 55 percent of Democrats said the other party makes them “afraid.”11 And a recent study by political scientists Danny Hayes and Liliana Mason shows that about 60 percent of both Democrats and Republicans said they believed the other party was a “serious threat to the United States.”12 We have not seen this kind of partisan hatred since the late 19th century. Between 1885 and 1908, all 11 post-Confederate states passed laws establishing poll taxes, literacy tests, property and residency requirements, and other measures aimed at stripping African Americans of their voting rights—and locking in Democratic Party dominance.17 These measures, together with a monstrous campaign of anti-Black violence, did what they were intended to do: Black voter turnout in the South fell from 61 percent in 1880 to just 2 percent in 1912. “I think it’s a much bigger problem than Philadelphia not having enough African American or Hispanic teachers … During this period, the organization had little impact on local or national education policy. Two of our AFT nurse members were part of that discussion. But the Republican transformation will not happen automatically. Contributions in the 2020 cycle: $8,662,920. History offers numerous examples of how fear of losing leads parties to subvert democracy. The shortage … Federalism remains robust. Any president with a congressional majority can pack the US Supreme Court simply by pushing through a law that expands the Court’s size and then filling the new vacancies with allies. 8. And they were the face of both major political parties. In 2018, the landmark Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME resolved this matter, concluding that public sector union fees violate the First Amendment, compelling nonmembers to "subsidize private speech on matters of substantial public concern". That opposition includes not only the Democratic Party but also unions and a wide array of activist groups, new and old, that have organized opposition to the current administration’s policies since the day Trump took office. By Suzanne Nossel. [4], In 1974, Albert Shanker was elected president of AFT. Democracy requires the existence of at least two democratically minded political parties. 18. The demographic composition of Philadelphia teachers is even more out of sync with ... Barbara Goodman, communications director for the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Pennsylvania, said that this is symptomatic of a broader teacher shortage, especially among minorities. Aug 23, 2020 "Great People" Star Star Star Star Star. At best, our schools are a “solid C student” when it comes to competing globally. By the time Barack Obama was reelected in 2012, that percentage had fallen to 57 percent and research suggests that it will be below 50 percent by 2024.15 In effect, white Christians are losing their electoral majority. [20] AFT's official endorsement of Clinton caused controversy among some AFT members who felt that the endorsement came too soon and did not reflect the wishes of rank-and-file AFT members, some of whom supported Bernie Sanders. “Countries and Territories: Global Freedom Scores,” Freedom House, June 2020, https://freedomhouse.org/countries/freedom-world/scores. They are also losing their dominant social status. Shanker was an early advocate of charter schools. Republicans’ electoral prospects are diminishing. By Eric H. Holder, Jr. Safeguarding Knowledge The GOP is showing signs of a similar panic today. 14. E. Klein and A. Chang, “‘Political Identity Is Fair Game for Hatred’: How Republicans and Democrats Discriminate,” Vox, December 7, 2015, https://www.vox.com/2015/12/7/9790764/partisan-discrimination. America’s descent into democratic dysfunction prevents our governments from dealing with the most important problems facing our society—from immigration to climate change to healthcare. "For Education and Employment: The American Federation of Teachers and Academic Freedom, 1926–1941. American Federation of Teachers, Yakima Local 1485 Records. He has authored several books, and his research interests include political parties, authoritarianism and democratization, and weak and informal institutions, with a focus on Latin America. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially … So like the old Southern Democrats, Republicans have begun to play dirty. To be sure, minority rule has a deep history in America.

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