By Elizabeth Schultz
Member of Fairfax County School Board from Springfield District
Political Crime and Punishment
Recently, the Fairfax County Democrat Committee Chairman issued a press release calling for my resignation as a duly elected official of the Fairfax County School Board. Fairfax, the 10th largest school division in the nation, is also the crucial county in Virginia, a “swing state” in the upcoming Presidential election. The action by the Democrat political organization calling for my resignation is both telling and informative.
There is a three-fold problem with this type of political bullying: 1) it is insidious at the highest order to seek to suppress and intimidate those with whom you politically disagree, 2) it requires an incalculable amount of hypocrisy as the Chairman’s party suffers an unimaginably corrupt candidate of its own, and 3) it demonstrates the petty and insufferable politicking that is at the heart of the nation’s unrest this election season.
For partisan political context, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, documentation has now revealed Governor Terry (under-federal-investigation) McAuliffe—former head of the Democrat National Committee and former Board Member of the Clinton Global Initiative who has been restoring the voting rights of felons with alacrity—gave at least $500,000 to the U.S. Senate campaign of Dr. Jill McCabe, the wife of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who oversaw the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
Moreover, in the McAuliffe-governed, critical swing state of Virginia (where 1 in 7 votes is cast in Fairfax County), the dead are being registered to vote by Democrat operatives (also under federal investigation) at my alma mater James Madison University, and illegal aliens are appearing on voter rolls through the state.
At first blush, it is difficult to ascertain if this attempt to bully me is simply a stunt or whether it is a more noxious form of political hardball. However, the prescient nature of the looming national election in the background tilts favor to the latter.
It begs the question “Why?” For what political crime or offense has a press release calling for my resignation been issued? I’m just a local School Board Member.
A profession of guilt: I dared to decline the Democrats’ call to “repudiate” my support of the candidate of my choice in the upcoming Presidential election, Donald J. Trump.
Then there’s the unforgivable—”irredeemable’”?—sins of supporting a Constitutional approach to governing, fiscal restraint, vocal support of the First and Second Amendment, and unapologetic calls for the respect for religious freedom and primacy of parental rights in the education of their own children. The accusing nihilists certainly have a longer list of my political crimes.
The political party of the most influential county in a crucial swing state governed by the Clintons’ closest ally has deemed it “unacceptable” that I retain ability to support the Presidential candidate whom I choose. The local party apparatchik seeks to publicly intimidate me into making a statement to benefit the Presidential candidate whom they choose.
Whether my Presidential candidate wins or loses, the take-away is that there is now “documentation” on those who supported the nominee to be tucked away for later use, imaginably to make political hay out of any elected official who doesn’t turn coat and run from their party’s nominee.
Why the Big Deal?
Control of the Fairfax County School Board has been, for decades, in the hands of Democrats and only Democrats have been its Chairman. The same is the case for the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.
However, just as is witnessed with the federal budget on the national stage, there is a perennial battle of these two county Boards over the highly-prized quality of life in Fairfax, the total funds required and the distribution of the spoils of the taxpayer-provided monies. Then, benevolently, the Board of Supervisors disburses funding and the two Boards allocate the monies, as they see fit.
The Fairfax County Schools budget alone is nearly $3 billion dollars for operating and capital expenditures, an amount larger than the GDP of nearly 100 nations on earth. The School Board is locally funded at just under 71% by Fairfax County taxpayers, 23% by the state, 4.5% by other funding sources, and just over 1.5% the federal government.
If everyone is satisfied with teacher pay, curriculum rigor, school construction and renovation, class size, minority student achievement, advanced academics, and the cost of living—then why the battle between the two Boards? One party has complete control over taxing and spending. With their votes alone, they decide how much tax to levy against Fairfax County residents, how much to spend on education, and every other quality of life service.
Notably on the ballot this fall, along with the Presidential election, is a highly contentious additional Meals Tax Referendum. No amount of taxes will quench the government’s desire to expand claim to even more under the notion of “providing” for the providers. This referendum is in the hands of the voters in Fairfax, but support for its passage, nonetheless, is being heavily supported and promoted by both Boards. This, too, I have spoken against.
So, the wrath of one political party—the one party in charge of everything—has been unleashed against a voice of one who dares dissent.
Fairfax – America in One County
A cultural, political, and demographic melting pot, Fairfax County’s 1.1 million residents are a microcosm of, and easily reflect the pulse of, the nation. While generally recession-proof historically due to the volume of government-related employment, Fairfax County has been impacted by the effects of sequestration and economic policies from its capital, Richmond.
For the first time in decades, more people are leaving the state than moving to it. Jobs with lower wages, commercial building vacancy rates, and a high cost of living persist on the foreseeable horizon. Families, once previously inoculated to economic swings, are now feeling pinched, strained, and unprotected by the slowest recession recovery on record.
Of considerable note, the Board of Supervisors’ recent adoption and promotion of “One Fairfax,” a financial and social engineering plan for urban development of the county, is the local onset of advancing globalism. It will continue, unchecked, one county, one town, and one jurisdiction at a time, unless and until there is a wholesale rejection by the voters of that which undermines the fabric of our nation.
Despite the fact that the schools belong to the taxpayers who fund them, and that Fairfax residents place an incredibly high value on education, many parents feel alienated, taxpayers feel taken advantage of, and students feel powerless and stressed. While subjectively observed, the angst is palpable in communications received, public engagements attended, and conversations held. Granted, none are completely right in those feelings, but certainly they aren’t completely wrong, and the national sentiment appears to closely echo what we see here in Fairfax.
Why have people become inherently distrustful or at least disdainful of government—local and federal alike? You don’t need to look to WikiLeaks, Congressional testimony, or pay-for-play schemes. It is sufficient to observe, noting “all politics is local,” that we have arrived at a point in time when, intentionally or unintentionally, curriculum content is opaque to parents which effectively inhibits any outcry. In the face of legitimate concerns regarding insufficient rigor, qualitative assessment, or obscenely prurient curriculum, parents are given the stiff arm.
How, for example, has it become an educational imperative for 10-year old little boys to be presented with over a dozen images of male genitalia in various states of arousal under the guise of “family life education’”? Why has literature for 12-year old students in which a girl talks about how a man feels inside her or disrobes her and kisses her naked breasts become justifiable in the name of selecting reading curriculum materials which “express diversity”? When did the underachievement of some students, perceived as attributed to their social and economic diversity, become a priority over the academic rigor and placement needs of another?
For those who even have a notional belief that a representative government in the form of a Constitutional Republic is laudable and worthy of fighting for, I am unabashed in my efforts to do just that for all of my constituents, regardless of their political alignment, faith tradition, culture, ethnicity, financial status, capacity to advocate, or otherwise. Yet, the heavy hand of a political party would appear to label such efforts as “subversive,” at least to their goals.
Whoever has experienced the power and the unrestrained ability to humiliate another human being automatically loses his own sensations. Tyranny is a habit, it has its own organic life, it develops finally into a disease. The habit can kill and coarsen the very best man or woman to the level of a beast. Blood and power intoxicate … the return of the human dignity, repentance, and regeneration becomes almost impossible.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The House of the Dead
I now know up close the effect of the “power … and the unrestrained ability to humiliate another human being” driving a national voter suppression effort to shame elected officials and private citizens who are deemed “deplorable” simply for thinking differently.
The indictment of the state of our culture extends beyond K-12 education as we witness the chaos and tantrums thrown by students on college campuses across the country. There must be an honest reflection that we are reaping what we have sown. The American public education system, governed by 90,000 School Board members across the country in 14,000 school districts, is rendering a student population with a questionable understanding of civics, self-governance, economic security, liberty, and endowed rights framed by American exceptionalism.
It has now become subversive or dissident to note the media’s part in selling a narrative rather than acting as a free press. It would laughable if it weren’t so tragic from a political party operating in a county where Mount Vernon, the home of our first President, is a treasure.
My political crime includes sharing that corrupt media is colluding to foist a narrative on the public (many of us have been defined as the “enemy”) as a distraction which pales in comparison to the real issue that this Presidential election portends: this is not a four-year decision—it’s a 40-year decision considering the scope and impact of the Supreme Court of the United States.
If the freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb may we be led, like sheep to slaughter. – George Washington
The Democrat Party leaders in Fairfax were outraged that I shared on social media a European article which touted the greatness of an elementary-aged child being able to “change their gender online without therapy”—which should elicit a horrifying response from anyone who is intellectually honest—and juxtaposed the embracing of a European-style governance and healthcare structure, as Obamacare further collapses and breaks the budgets of families across the country, to the fact that federal overreach into every single community in this country on the issue of education, at a minimum, will be on trial with the next Supreme Court.
The impact of decisions made by the electorate is very tangible, even at the local level. For example, when the School Board was developing a strategic plan to guide the education of 187,000 students, the predictable “Global Citizen” was listed as a goal for students in what the School Board calls “The Portrait of a Graduate.” I sought to add the word “Ethical” and identified the concerns around ethics in a global economic framework, citing cases like Enron, Goldman Sachs, and Volkswagen.
“Ethical” passed with a vote of 7-5 in favor. Five—five—School Board Members voted against the notion that we should guide young people to be ‘Ethical’ by the time they graduate. Inexplicable. Again, we reap what we sow.
From the Board dais, I have been indefatigably fair from a political perspective. I have praised and criticized across the aisle as an honest broker and steward for the public. I am the first Board Member to engage students directly and authentically with the Student Town Hall series I initiated and conduct each year. I seek to engage residents at the highest level, in and beyond my District and in every minority community—Korean, Chinese, Latino, Muslim, Catholic, Evangelical, Coptic—and have inarguably the most ethnically, politically, and religiously diverse appointees of any Board Member. That is a far cry from that which has been exhibited by most of my colleagues a vast majority, if not all, of the time.
It’s too bad that the Orwellian 1984 Democrats in Fairfax County don’t share the same respect for a spectrum of diversity in political identity that they demand parents accept in the spectrum of diversity of the gender identities of individuals sharing bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, hotel rooms, and athletic competitions with their children in our schools.
In their presidential candidate, the rollback of Second Amendment rights has not only been alluded to, it’s been promised. In disbelief, the public is watching as the mainstream media extols the virtues of a candidate affirmatively promises to take away the Constitutional rights of citizens, grant rights to those who are not citizens, has circumvented the most basic job requirements in public service to secure and preserve communications at the Cabinet level (and apparently Presidential-level), and has engaged in a series of actions described as corrupt by none other than Bob Woodward, part of the masterful investigative journalism team that uncovered Watergate.
Support of such a candidate is nothing short of voting for professed and promised tyranny. Imagine Thomas Paine’s thoughts if he could experience such traitorous works devoid of integrity and independence.
Whether it’s my nature as a Catholic, in my DNA as a Hungarian-Scot, in my upbringing in the Cold War Reagan era as the daughter of a U.S. Naval Officer, in my education informed by living and travelling the country and world, or as the mother of four boys, I shared with someone recently that my spine is steel, my heart is forgiving, and my character can’t be twisted merely by those trying to sully it for their own political gain—because I am grounded in something far more important than the temporal.
Yet, the waging of politics-of-personal-destruction evidenced by this agenda-driven action is at the heart of why we see in politics those who, largely, wind up disappointing us. Redirecting faith in whom we rely, extol, or trust is up to us.
The sheer requirement to survive the battlefield of insults, maligning, and reputation-assassination means that men of good will rarely consider running for political office. The Age of Political Correctness, a pre-cursor to the mandatory Newspeak language in an Orwellian society, is a minefield cultivated to take down regular people—the citizen legislator role envisioned and modeled by the Founding Fathers—who may entertain the thought of serving their fellow citizens. Given the vast wasteland on display, it’s no wonder people pass to save themselves and their families the torturous path.
If only those with disparate views didn’t waste time and energy on political sophistry and put to the wayside such invective. We’d acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses then concentrate on doing the best we are able, with what we have, for whom we serve.
Better that I suffer political wrath for the crime taking an unwavering stance rather than the punishment which comes from the loathsomeness of having no stance, or worst of all—retreat. Temporal punishment is just that; it’s the eternal kind that should inform our actions. Thus, in the end, despite news to the contrary, redemption is still on the table.
In the meantime, in the words of the inimitable Margaret “Maggie” Thatcher:
If my critics saw me walk across the Thames, they would say it was because I couldn’t swim.