Governing by dominance ritual: we're all Richard Corcoran's kid; and we can't afford to forget it
Whatever dominance rituals Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran wants to indulge with his kids inside his household are his business -- and his family's.
If someone had secretly taped Corcoran wrestling his oldest kid into his pool and bouncing him against one side, I would condemn the invasion of privacy. Moreover, I'm not a judgmental parent. I screw up all the time as a dad and always have. Parenting is hard.
However, this video was not filmed secretly. It was filmed, edited and tweeted out proudly as a public statement by a person with a lot of official power over the Polk County School District -- and every other school district. Corcoran wanted people to see it. So give him what he wants and look at it, especially the last few seconds. It says a million words about Corcoran's self-control, indifference to others, and general dominance approach to power. As an elected official who has to deal with him, I can't afford to ignore what it shows about him.
My oldest son feeling a little self isolated too long, said he could throw me in the pool. :) pic.twitter.com/csTgHLMIUJ
— Richard Corcoran (@richardcorcoran) May 1, 2020
Horseplay happens and gets carried away.
I could even see myself engaging in something like this with my own son until my wife threatened to dismember me, which she would. And if I ever managed to fling him into the concrete side of a pool, my first reaction as he fell would be, "Oh no, don't crack your head on that." And I'd be pretty ashamed of the recklessness, I suspect.
But when Corcoran finally tosses his son against the side of the pool, he immediately turns away without even watching what happens. Check out the look on Corcoran's face and see if there's anything but the love of dominance etched there. And then, after the heat of the moment, upon further review, he decided he wanted all of Florida to see him brag about it.
You can't reason with that look
Again, this would not matter at all if Corcoran didn't govern through precisely the same dominance rituals he's acting out here with his child. His entire political career has been dominance ritual theater.
Threatening to fire 1,200 Polk County teachers was as much a dominance ritual as tossing his teenager in the pool. But that didn't work out so well because the people of Polk County wrestled Corcoran into the pool instead, so to speak. And DoE backed down immediately.
That's the only way to deal with a guy who openly wants the destruction of the public education system he oversees.
I think a lot of elected school board members and superintendents and even union officials in Florida have a hard time fully grasping that we're always in the middle of a dominance ritual with Corcoran. And we always will be. It's just who he is. Look at his face. Look at his indifference to anything but dominance. And you can look at the people like Jacksonville's Mayor Lenny Curry, lapping it up, to get a sense of who he appeals to.
If we, the people who care about meaningful education and good governance, want anything that looks like a truce with these people, we have to wrestle hard. Otherwise, they will happily crank our heads off the side of the pool and tweet about it.
The good news is, like most bullies, Corcoran and crew are not particularly strong. I mean, look who he chose to dominate for social media sport -- his own kid. Once you figure that out, it's not much of jump to realize what he's willing to do to yours.