Yes, there was a concerted effort by national Democrats to politicize reopening schools in 2020.

Anthony LaMesa
4 min readOct 25, 2022

From the Center for American Progress to the DNC to social media activists to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, the message was that it was unsafe to reopen schools.

As a social democrat — I support Medicare for All, child benefit payments, social housing, and all the important elements of a robust welfare state — it gives me no joy to say this, but the Democratic Party decided to make political hay out of reopening schools in summer 2020. In response to President Trump demanding schools reopen, national Democrats decided to politicize the issue. Rather than focus on cooperating with the Trump administration to marshal the resources and policies needed to inspire confidence in the safety of schools, hyperbolic advertisements suggested reopening schools would sacrifice the lives of teachers and students to bolster Trump’s re-election campaign.

Republicans also politicized the school reopening issue in a problematic way — sometimes dismissing genuine public health concerns from teachers and parents — but that behavior received significant attention from national media whereas the coordinated campaign by national Democrats to politicize school reopening has not. I try to shine a light on it in this post.

On July 16, 2020, the Center for American Progress — the Democratic Party’s establishment think tank — tweeted that “Science, not politics, must drive decisions about how and when to reopen schools.”

Two weeks later, though, the Democratic National Committee released an advertisement blasting President Donald Trump’s push to reopen schools. Politics, not science — science that said it was safe to reopen schools — ruled the day.

According to a DNC aide, the six-figure ad buy will run on cable channels across multiple battleground states, and marks the start of a two-week campaign that will target Trump’s position on reopening schools that is being run in coordination with the Joe Biden campaign, Democratic elected officials and candidates as well as parent…

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Anthony LaMesa

Some thoughts on reopening America’s public schools.