Five Signs It’s Time to Break Up With Your Legislator

By February 23, 2016 Uncategorized 8 Comments

Do you remember the moment you first met your state legislator?

Do you recall how absolutely dreamy he was? How you got that nervous feeling in the pit of your stomach when he spoke to you the first time?

He probably had you at “hello,” didn’t he?

It was like you were the only one in the room and he was speaking directly to you, almost like he could read your mind. He always seemed to say just the right thing, at the right time. You likely thought to yourself, “he is more than I’d dreamed and everything I deserve.”

Do you recall the way he would look you in the eye and promise that if you put your faith in him, he would never let you down? He wouldn’t be like all those “other” politicians you had encountered before. This time, it would be different. He would be faithful to you and only you.

Fireworks went off in your heart the first time you filled in the bubble next to his name on the election ballot. You felt like you had won the lottery and couldn’t wait for the legislative session to begin to hear how he would be working to make your life better. You believed in him and loved his honesty and forthrightness.

You felt like he really listened to you and had your best interests at heart. You could count on him and he could count on you. You had the sense that the two of you were in this together and could take on the world, even those liberal Democrats.

You were comforted by the knowledge that he would always put you, your needs, your goals, ahead of his.  You knew in your heart this would be a relationship for the ages, or at least until he was term-limited.

But life throws curves. What starts out as true love sometimes turns sour. It is that feeling you get when you look across the room and realize this is no longer the same person with whom you put your faith and ardent devotion. You were now looking at this:

Maybe you are feeling like this right about now. Things just haven’t worked out the way you had imagined. The “legislator of your life” has found other interests to occupy his time and you are no longer the priority in his life.  An election is coming up this year and you’re not sure if this is the right time to call it quits, or whether you should try to work it out.

If this describes you, I would like to provide the following primer for self-reflection.


Reason #1: You’re Just Not Happy

The heart wants what the heart wants. Sometimes what the heart wants is not your current self-serving, disingenuous, public school-hating state legislator. Sometimes what the heart wants is to break up with the disinterested, non-email-returning, double-talking, condescending love of your life who is already asking for another campaign donation.

He says you and your fellow educators need a pay raise, just not as much as the oil companies need a tax break. When you ask him to support a one-penny sales tax increase for teacher salaries, he tells you that is regressive, yet then offers up a $1.50/pack increase in the price of cigarettes instead.

You’re just not happy anymore and are now pricing homes in Denton, Texas, where you can get a $16,000 raise simply by moving 100 miles.

Reason #2: You Want Different Things

You want respect and a decent paying job with stable benefits. You want fewer mandates and more autonomy and trust.   You’d like to have kids and raise a family but couldn’t afford daycare on your current salary. You’d like to drive a car that was less than ten years old and doesn’t need new tires.

You would like support, quality training, and tuition assistance. You’d like to retire someday with a secure pension and health benefits.

His ambition is to be reelected. In order to get campaign donations from party bosses, he has to play the game by their rules.

He’d also like to get a plum appointment to the Appropriations Committee to help pass more tax cuts for wealthy Oklahomans so they can give more generously to his campaign. He wants greater test-based accountability to find the bad schools and bad teachers and replace them with charters.

He would appreciate your vote but realizes that most teachers don’t vote anyway.

Reason #3: You Keep Thinking About It

You wonder what happened. Everything sounded so wonderful in November of the last election cycle.

Now, you stay awake at night wondering if he is going to push through a scheme to take away your medical benefits in the guise of a pay raise. You worry about how budget cuts are going to impact your school with larger class sizes and fewer options for students. You fret about the impact that vouchers will have on the most disadvantaged children of our state and how it will exacerbate segregation in our society.

He says not to worry. That he has it all under control and that he really cares about you. However, a friend of yours sees him smiling and laughing with Senator Jolley and Representative Nelson while having lunch at an OKC restaurant. You know the end is near.

Reason #4: You Can’t Resolve Your Problems

You dutifully send your membership dues to OEA every year. You closely follow your favorite education bloggers and periodic legislative updates. You write emails and make dozens of phone calls to your legislator. You are active on social media and work hard to get other teachers engaged in the political process.

Despite this, it’s difficult for you to see how things are getting better. We still have too much testing, too little time; too many mandates, too little respect; too much disparagement, too little trust; too many tax cuts, too little money. And, all the while, he doesn’t seem to notice the things you do to try to make things better.

Reason #5: He’s Just Not Into You Anymore

He really seems to like this legislative gig and the fact that people call him “Representative.” He enjoys the experience of standing on the House Floor reciting his talking points with flawless elocution.

He also loves the long weekend retreats to 5-star hotels in prime destinations, with all expenses paid by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).

Now that’s he is in office, he wants to spend most of his time in Oklahoma City with his fellow representatives rather than visit his home district, knock on doors, and check on you.

Of course, in a few months, he will be sending a new glossy bulk mailing to your home touting all of the things he has done for YOU over the past two years. He will want you to know he needs two more years to continue fighting for you.

He’ll ask for your money but neglect to tell you anything about the out-of-state 501 (c)(4) pro-voucher organization that is doing the behind-the-scenes dirty work for his campaign in return for his future votes.

He tells you he loves you and needs you, but just every few years. The rest of the time, he prefers you don’t call.

But, you’re done. You have needs too.

You need someone who is an advocate for public education in our state. A man who will do more than talk the talk but will walk the walk. Someone who will be accountable to you and take the time to communicate.

You made a mistake entering into this relationship two years ago. The good news is it can be over.

Take control and make it happen. Just don’t wait until you get to MISERY stage. That’s too late.

If the signs are there, dump him and move on. To be nice, maybe send him a sweet card like this:

A breakup doesn’t have to be ugly.

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