November 10, 2022

Julie Vassilatos: An old-school conservative goes to a school board training seminar with Awake IL

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Jullie Vassilatos is an old school conservative who decided to get some training offered by the right-wing Leadership Institute along with Moms for Liberty. It was quite an experience, underlining much of what she had already noticed in the shift of “conservatism” these days.

What do these newly, completely dominant and unchallenged voices advocate now? Autocracy over democracy, with strict limits and controls, including intimidation and use of police, on voting rights. Morality policing based on a very narrow definition of Christianity. Truth solely based on gut feeling and opinion at the expense of all objective data. “Supply side” economics run amok with untaxable billionaire CEOs making exponentially more than ever before at the expense of ordinary workers. A blatant hatred of immigrants. A loud, unconcealed, contemptuous antisemitism. The absolute unimportance of any wider community outside of the individual nuclear family unit. The unimportance of integrity and character in the face of the will to power. The unlimited power potential of humans in establishing a new order of a Christian state, to be  exercised by any means necessary. In this cultural moment, actual traditions (such as the peaceful transition of power) and actual institutions (government at any level, the institutional church, academic institutions) are now all bad. It is now time to burn it all down.

At her training, she heard much to underline that. It was all about Republicans winning, no matter what.

To accomplish this requires a certain single mindedness, a certain deep partisanship. The partisanship has to be the only thing that matters if you really want to get this color-flipping done. As Jim repeated a few times for emphasis, “The worst Republican is better than the best Democrat.”

What such a statement does is remind and reinforce that what matters is NOT character, values, or tradition. The only thing that matters is power. And this kind of mantra comes in very handy when what the GOP turns up with at the top of their ticket is the opposite of character and values, or even the opposite of conservative.

Because of course, Republicans winning is the only important thing. Securing power at all levels regardless of the cost, or even what is gained, or what any of it means anymore.

But anyway, this is why we were here that day–to learn how to apply these sound principles and take over school boards.

She was not encouraged.

Today’s conservatism, expressed by Awake IL and Moms for Liberty, is about partisan power acquisition at all costs. Moms For Liberty, founded days before the Insurrection,  is a national organization well funded by undisclosed donors; they started out in Florida and were immediately understood to be “foot soldiers” in DeSantis’ army, and became instant national right wing media darlings. They love military and martial language, proudly and bafflingly calling themselves “war moms.” Like Awake IL they trade in a mix of parental anxiety, fear mongering, and lies. Awake IL is a smaller, local group; founded during the pandemic to oppose any and all covid-19 restrictions, the group has moved on to a wide swath of “parents’ rights” issues including protesting “critical race theory” in the schools, marching against the sexualization of children in schools,  harassing children’s hospitals and school boards, and establishing a pugnacious social media presence.

Much of what these groups advocate is not based on truth, or principle, or a belief system; but it is based on lies, and requires assenting to lies to participate.

Parents may not understand this because of the techniques used.

What Awake IL bases all its work on is claims about public education that are false. All of them. This is not my opinion. The claims they base their organizing on are objectively, verifiably false.

She has more to say about these lies, including this lie:

The assumption that teachers, administrators, and staff such as librarians are hell-bent on harming our kids is another lie. We heard more than one person at the training say that not only was SEL destroying our schools, but teachers and administrators were doing this on purpose in order to harm children and make test scores implode. A decades-long evil plot.

This is a powerful piece, and you can read the whole thing here.




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