Why I Will Not Endorse a Candidate in the Primaries

MIAMI, FL - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders participate in the Univision News and Washin
MIAMI, FL - Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders participate in the Univision News and Washington Post Democratic Presidential Primary Debate on the Miami Dade College Kendall Campus in Miami, Florida on Wednesday March, 9, 2016. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Many readers have asked me why I have not endorsed anyone in the primaries.

I will not vote for anyone running on the Republican ticket because they are all committed to privatization and destruction of our public schools. That is a line I will not cross. They berate public schools and teachers, and they demean one of our society's most important democratic institutions. All of them seem to think that government is a burden and a problem, rather than the political institution by which our society solves problems and manages services that none of us by ourselves could solve or manage. The Republicans want to get rid of social programs and invest in the military. I have family members who will vote Republican, and the very same family members rely on social security, Obamacare, veterans' benefits, and other government programs. Take some or all of them away and many Americans will be plunged into deep poverty. Why do they vote against their self-interest? I don't know and I don't understand.

I am not supporting a candidate in the Democratic primaries. I have not posted anything that attacks either candidate, even when the "attack" is true. It is easy enough to find fault with Bernie (he's a socialist and many Americans don't know the difference between a socialist and a Communist) and with Hillary (the emails, the coziness with Obama's education groupies and Wall Street). But I am not going to use the blog as a forum to undermine either of the Democratic candidates. There are plenty of other blogs and the mainstream media where you can read blistering attacks on both of them.

I am aware that most of my readers of this blog support Bernie Sanders. I agree with his analysis about the overwhelming influence of corporate interests and the corrupting effects of campaign contributions on government decision-making. We see the corrupting influence of money and greed on education policy on a daily basis. We see a corrupt charter industry bankrolled by hedge fund managers and entrepreneurs. I admire Bernie Sanders and will support him if he is the party's nominee. Bernie doesn't seem to understand the extent of charter school fraud and corruption, but I think he can quickly learn and understand the threat to our democracy posed by the charter industry.

Hillary Clinton is a highly qualified candidate. She has broad experience; she knows domestic policy and foreign policy. I am uneasy about all the Obama-Duncan insiders who are clustering around her campaign; the corporate reformers from groups such as DFER make me uneasy. But I admire Hillary's guts in standing up to the barrage of scathing criticism that is directed at her every day, as well as standing up to the rampant sexism that is used against her. If she is the party's nominee, I will support her.

These are two good people. Either is far preferable to any of the Republican candidates. When the primaries are over, and each party has chosen its candidate, it will be time for the respective parties either to coalesce and unite or to fragment. The one that unites will win. The one that fragments, loses.

I think it is crucial for those who share liberal, progressive values to unite behind the Democratic candidate in November. He or she may not be your first choice, but consider the alternative. I will not sit home. I will not vote for a third party candidate. I will vote for the nominee of the Democratic party. No matter how disappointed I have been in Obama's education policy, there is more at stake: the Supreme Court; the economy; foreign policy, and other issues. We can't allow an extremist or a demagogue to win the presidency.

I will not do anything to increase the divisions in the Democratic party or to contribute to the animosity between different wings of the party. I want the spirit of comity and civility to emerge after the primaries. We will not have the perfect candidate, but the Democratic candidate will get my vote.

This is a personal statement. It was not reviewed or approved by the Network for Public Education (which is nonpolitical and not allowed to endorse candidates) nor by the NPE Action Fund (our political arm, which does make endorsements).

Cross-posted from Diane Ravitch's Blog.