Bevin’s History of Exclusion

Dear Governor Bevin,

Emilie McKiernan Blanton

Today I approach you, not as a teacher, but as a constituent. I want to know why you have staked your governorship on an outright retreat from transparency.

On December 29, 2015, you began your reign as Governor with a meeting about education, specifically charter schools. Rather than welcoming all voices, you barred advocates for public education, including parents and teachers, from attending the meeting. 

In a move mirroring your original charter meeting, you held a meeting on April 17, 2019, this time with President Trump’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, to discuss the future of education in Kentucky. The problem was that you invited not a single public school educator. You even barred a group of teenage journalists from a Kentucky public school. Instead you included pro privatization and pro charter advocates while resolutely removing the voices of those who interact with education every day. When questioned on the exclusion of Kentucky educators, you retorted that the people present cared about children. Just one more careless jab at people you refuse to speak to.

Throughout your time as governor you have taken a radical approach to barring and silencing those who speak against you. When met with opposition on social media, you blocked thousands of accounts, barring them from interacting with you as constituents

Governor Bevin, this not how a democratic republic is meant to work. You have an obligation to serve the people of this entire commonwealth, not just the 511,374 Kentuckians who voted for you. With a voter turnout of just 30.6%, you earned a mandate of 16% of the entirety of Kentucky voters, which was just over 3.2 million during your election. For a man voted in on apathy, you have clung to the notion that you know better than the rest of us and refused to invite valuable contributions from experts and constituents. You are our governor. We have a right to talk to you and interact with you and try to help you make the best decisions for our commonwealth. It is your legal and moral duty to ensure our voices are heard. Rather than embracing your office, you have turned your back on anyone who offers words you view as criticism.

Now we find that that behavior is not limited to just your constituents with whom you disagree, but also your own Lieutenant Governor, Jenean Hampton. In a fashion reminiscent of middle school drama, Kentucky has again been dragged into the national spotlight as your party splinters over the firing of Lt. Gov. Hampton’s aide. 

For a man who has polled as the least popular sitting governor, perhaps you should try opening doors instead of closing them. It’s difficult to gain faith and trust when you continually lock us out. Being a member of public office means dealing with those who disagree with you.

In years marred by distrust, you continue to silence us and halt our participation in our own democracy. We have no trust in you or members of your party. On March 29, 2018, SB151, the so-called Sewage Bill, was passed in an unconstitutional manner. Nearly a year later, you answered a question about whether you’d call a special session with “Not a chance. Not a chance … Like Charlie Brown and the football with Lucy? I mean, seriously.” And yet here we are with a special session being promised by you. Why should we have any faith in you? You have shown us time and time again who you are: a bully who will put the wants of the few above the needs of the many; a man from outside our commonwealth who bars and lambastes Kentuckians; a person more interested in counting the times his name appears in print rather than representing us with the dignity and decorum demanded from your office.

For the rest of us in the voting public in Kentucky, four years of Governor Matt Bevin was already too many. As we move forward as a commonwealth, we need to start making decisions about what is best for us. It’s time to engage and be active. He has shown us exactly who he is the entire time. He shows no signs of changing and doesn’t desire to. It’s up to us to change.

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