All Politics is Personal

Dan O’Donnell previews Tuesday’s Spring Election

April 1, 2022
Perspective by Dan O’Donnell

With apologies to Tip O’Neill, all politics isn’t local; it’s personal.  Sure, to be successful in politics, the former House speaker was correct that one must acutely understand and respond to the issues constituents care most about, but over the past two years, this has proven to be not enough.

From health ordinances to school closures to left-wing lesson plans, local decision-making has more dramatically impacted lives than perhaps ever before.  School board elections no longer decide whether the gymnasium is upgraded; they determine whether class will be in session the next time a COVID variant hits.  City council races don’t just affect garbage service contracts; they establish whether mask and vaccine mandates will come back.

Ahead of Tuesday’s Spring Election, I dedicated my entire radio show Thursday morning to taking calls from candidates looking to introduce themselves to a wider swath of voters and make their electoral pitch.  My audience heard from several incumbents, but what struck me was the sheer volume of first-time candidates running for their school or village board.

Almost to a person, they said they were ordinary citizens—parents, mostly—motivated to take a stand against the petty tyranny which manifested itself in both COVID-19 mandates and the post-George Floyd push for critical race theory curricula.  Politics was personal to them—so personal in fact that they were finally angry enough to step into the fray themselves.

With so many motivated conservatives lining up against them, it would have seemed wise for the liberals who control public education and local government to ease up on the crazy for just a few weeks, but they just can’t help themselves.

“If parents want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget,” wrote Democrat State Rep Lee Snodgrass in February in a quickly-deleted tweet.

The Eau Claire Area School District took this a step further last month, stating in leaked training materials that “parents are not entitled to know their kids’ [gender] identities. That knowledge must be earned.”

“School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent/guardian,” teachers were instructed.

Just this week, the MacIver Institute uncovered a teacher education presentation from the Department of Public Instruction in which guest speaker Charlene Carruthers promised to introduce curriculum far more radical than critical race theory.

“I’m a black studies scholar,” she said during her Zoom discussion in February.  “I think I could tell you what critical race theory is, and I can tell you for sure it is not the most radical thing to come out. Ha!  Wait until you hear what we really think, what we really believe in!”

The overwhelming majority of parents don’t want their kids finding out.  They want a say in public education, and they most certainly want to know if their child is identifying as a different gender.  These didn’t used to be controversial demands, but with educators’ sudden leftward lurch, they are far too often going unheeded.

Now parents are fighting back by wrestling control away from the radicals and restoring order and sanity to local politics.  On Thursday morning, I heard from dozens of them.  Some were fed up parents, others were frustrated taxpayers, but all felt compelled to join the fight.

Politics is so personal for them that they became personally invested.  They remember how deeply the lockdowns, the mandates, and the radicalism impacted their families, and they are rising up to say, “Never again.”

This Tuesday, join them, support them, vote for them.  Remember how personal local politics is for you.