As everyone knows, our next president will be taking office despite having lost what we in America quaintly call the "popular
vote," or what all other democratic countries simply refer to as "the vote." He has accomplished this feat
through a series of maneuvers that are perfectly legal and certainly undemocratic. His team has succeeded in excluding inconvenient
votes for the opposition by convincing an eager Supreme Court majority to believe the double curiosity of Florida Jews for
Buchanan and Florida Blacks Too Dumb to Vote Correctly. The saddest fact is that most voters have a memory no longer than
a Survivors TV sequence - who can recall the Clinton impeachment? Before the end of Bush's term we'll be teaching students
who were in junior high when the Florida vote was contested.
Social work educators cannot afford to forget. For
those who care about the poor, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized, the long cold winter is just beginning. We need
to remind our students that the new president could go much further to insure a warmer reception next time he appears in front
of the NAACP national convention, by convening a commission to investigate the election law loopholes and irregularities that
helped earn him his new job. That way, he would wisely distance himself from the shame of his ascendancy and come clean to
the African-American and Hispanic electorate, two groups who have shed blood to remind the majority that they too have the
right to vote.
We can remind our students that much of this present mischief is the legacy of Newt Gingrich. He
gave advanced seminars to willing Republicans and Democrats alike, teaching them how to inflame, divide, bully, and stonewall
to get their way. The bickering and gridlock will only worsen in the next four years.
As teachers we can point out
how the press has fallen all over itself to congratulate Bush for his Rainbow Coalition of cabinet Secretaries, accolades
that ring with the same embarrassing self-congratulatory tone white decisionmakers too often use when they finally open the
doors of power to a few people of color.
To give the new president his due, he has chosen to imitate his immediate
predecessor's lead in diversity instead of his father's. But, as Lani Guinier once remarked, "The absence of diversity
is a valid critique. But the presence of diversity is not a sufficient solution."
Dubya proposes a Cabinet
that includes for DHHS Secretary my Wisconsin neighbor Tommy Thompson, who enthusiastically chopped welfare roles by 80% in
the name of Personal Responsibility. His Interior Secretary is a disciple of James "Trees Cause Pollution" Watt
- an oilman's dream come true. Attorney General designee John Ashcroft gave a psirited defense of Jefferson Davis during
a mock trial of the [white] South just last year and firmly believes in women's right to legal abortion - as long as it's
in Mexico or Canada. And he's on Bush's short list for the Supreme Court.
We can continue to remind our students
that policy and practice are inextricably linked. Punitive policy begats punitive practice, where social workers become agents
of repressive social control, instead of dvocates for inclusion. And we need to teach our students to bundle up for what looks
like a long, cold winter, and fight for a new spring.