By JoAnne Powers, July 29, 2016
On Thursday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten spoke to the Illinois Delegation breakfast at the DNC in Philadelphia. She said that Donald Trump was using the same rhetoric that Illinois workers have heard from billionaire Governor Bruce Rauner, whose conservative economic agenda has resulted in a budget crisis threatening schools and public services across the state:
[Randi Weingarten]: “Your dear governor.... You know, my partner is a Congregational rabbi, so I’m supposed to not curse. And anyway, I’m trying not to. And, yesterday, ‘demagogue’ was looked up more in Webster’s than any other word. Kind of like after BrExit all of the sudden the ‘EU’ was looked up more than any other word…or more than any other term.
Just because he says in private emails what Trump says publicly doesn’t make Rauner any less of a demagogue than Trump. You see it by his actions. I was a high school social studies teacher. My kids used to say to me--eleventh and twelfth grade—they used to say to me, ‘Miss Weingarten, Miss Weingarten…you walk the walk.’ And you know, the first time they said it, I was, like, ‘okay, what’s coming out of their mouths next?’ But people see that actions speak louder than words. Kids see that actions speak louder than words. And when you look at the actions of Rauner, they are bankrupt. They are as bankrupt as Trump. How dare you, as a governor, how dare you disinvest in schools? How dare you put the Chicago schools on the precipice of bankruptcy? How dare you do that to children? How dare you [inaudible] no budget. Actions speak larger than words and how do you do that as a billionaire to kids who need public services so they can have a shot in life? How dare you? It’s immoral! It’s immoral!”
Weingarten reserved the bulk of her speech for criticism of the Donald himself:
[Randi Weingarten]: “He has had how many years of reality TV. And I love that one of the speakers last night, I think it was Joe Biden, who said ‘this is reality, not reality TV’. But think about what he’s done. He has tested his messages for ten years. He’s seen the ratings. He sees what works. He sees what doesn’t. I did love that mayor Bloomberg said last night: ‘We’re from New York. We know a con-man when we see him.’ Chicago could say the same thing. Illinois could say the same thing. But this is what this guy has done.
And I thought the President was brilliant yesterday about this, because the President focused us on the trajectory of hope. That is what America is. We balance on hope and we reject fear. As close as we get to the precipice of tyranny, as close as we get to the precipice of fascism, we have always, even as close as we’ve gotten, we have always taken the turn for hope…the road towards hope. But this man is different than anybody who has run for president before, because he will say and do anything to be president. And there is a whole lot of anger out there that is legitimate. Yes, of course, there’s anger about the other that’s not legitimate. But we need to educate. We need to teach. We need to bring people together. We need to bring that diversity together and the inclusion together. But the anger over economics, the anger over wanting to be in the middle class again, the anger over wanting that pathway, that is legitimate. And that is what he is exploiting: that fear, that people can’t care for their own families.
So, I’m going to leave you with this: Illinois knows how to organize. You would not still have the legislature that you have, you would not have this incredible senator, if you didn’t know how to organize. You know how to organize. You know how to go door-to-door. You know how to knock on doors. You know how to make phone calls. You know how to stare people in the face. Whether it is an organizing campaign, whether it is a political campaign, you know what it means to have people vote their hopes, not their fears. We need to be not just surrogates, we need to be on the journey for justice, for Hillary because she knows how to take that baton from Barack and do what we need to do to make sure we reject Citizen’s United. We create another path for the middle class through building of infrastructure. We’re regaining our manufacturing base. [inaudible] so our kids can go to college. We’re doing what we need to do to combat racism and to create safety in the streets here and the world abroad.
But it’s going to be up to us. She can’t do it alone. She needs us to help her. And let me say this last thing, which is: in helping her we reject tyranny. In helping her, we reject demagoguery. In helping her we reject scapegoating. In helping her we come back to what America is, which is the land of the people, by the people and for the people. We can do it! [Applause]”