Commentary on Political Economy

Wednesday 13 October 2021

 Democrats have declared war on ‘school board moms


President Biden listens as Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks at the White House on June 23. (Susan Walsh/AP)
Opinion by Marc A. Thiessen
October 13 at 1:12 am Taiwan Time
First there were “soccer moms” — the minivan-driving suburban mothers who became swing voters in the 1996 presidential election. Then there were “security moms” who after 9/11 were concerned about keeping their children safe from terrorism.
Well, in 2022, the new swing voters will be “school board moms” — suburban women who are deeply concerned with the direction of their children’s education and are showing up at school board meetings across the country to make their voices heard. But instead of addressing their concerns, Democrats are likening them to terrorists and weaponizing the FBI to intimidate them.
Big mistake.
School board moms are furious about pandemic school closures, mask mandates and teachers unions that put the interests of adults over the interests of kids. They are irate that schools are indoctrinating their kids with extremist ideologies — teaching them to see everything through the prism of race and to believe that America is a systemically racist country. They are angry about the elimination of merit-based admissions and gifted-and-talented programs in the name of diversity. They are livid at politicians such as Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who doesn’t believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” and Cabinet officials, including Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, who won’t acknowledge that parents are the “primary stakeholders” in their children’s education. And they are exercising their constitutional right to free speech to express those concerns at school board meetings.
And what is the Democrats’ response? To treat them as domestic terrorists. Not figuratively; literally. In September, the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Biden accusing parents of engaging in “domestic terrorism and hate crimes” and asking Biden — I kid you not — to deploy the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Secret Service, and its National Threat Assessment Center” as well as the FBI and “its National Security Branch and Counterterrorism Division” to investigate this “immediate threat” using the “PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism.”
Yes, you read that right. The school board association wants the Biden administration to use a law designed to stop al-Qaeda from carrying out another 9/11 against parents who come to school board meetings to exercise their First Amendment rights.
In its letter, the school board association did not cite a single incident that violated anti-terrorism statutes, much less warranted federal intervention. It noted that an “individual was arrested in Illinois for aggravated battery and disorderly conduct during a school board meeting” while in Virginia “an individual was arrested, another man was ticketed for trespassing, and a third person was hurt during a school board meeting.” In Michigan, an “individual yelled a Nazi salute in protest to masking requirements.” In Ohio, a school board member received a letter that "calls the school board member a ‘filthy traitor,’ implies loss of pension funds, and labels the school board as Marxist.” And in other states, the association said, parents “are inciting chaos during board meetings.”
Sorry, calling someone a Nazi or a communist is not a crime. Neither is “inciting chaos.” And the FBI does not give out tickets for trespassing or make arrests for disorderly conduct. Those are local law enforcement matters.
But within days, Attorney General Merrick Garland responded to the letter with a memorandum to the director of the FBI in which he ordered “the Federal Bureau of Investigation, working with each United States Attorney, to convene meetings with federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial leaders in each federal judicial district” to, as the Justice Department put it, “determine how federal enforcement tools can be used to prosecute these crimes.” That’s right, the Biden administration is using the FBI and the threat of federal prosecution to intimidate parents who come to school board meetings to complain about their children’s education.
When left-wing protesters followed Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) into a bathroom, filming her as they confronted her, the president calls it inappropriate but “part of the process.” But when parents confront school board members at public meetings designed for that purpose, it’s a matter for the FBI?
Democrats have declared war on school board moms, and they are going to regret it. In 2016, suburban voters helped put Donald Trump in the White House. But in 2018 and 2020, suburban, college-educated women defected from the GOP in droves and helped give Democrats the White House and their narrow majorities in Congress. Writing for The Post last year, former Chicago mayor and Obama White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel (D) predicted that “these women, many of whom live in the nation’s suburbs, are now slipping out of the GOP’s reach.”
Well, today, the Biden administration is doing everything in its power to drive these women back into the GOP fold. Just as Democrats missed the rise of Trump, what is happening in school board meetings across the country is a harbinger of electoral defeat for the Democratic Party. School board moms are mad as hell — and Democrats will rue the day they treated them like terrorists.

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