The recent weeks have seen quite a bit of action in the political world, and most of it has been centered on the confirmation hearings of President-elect Trump’s cabinet picks. The progression of the events has been exceptionally unusual for several reasons, and it seems almost as if the Republicans are simply trying to push through these confirmations without performing their due diligence. However, other politicians aren’t as accepting of these nominations, and many have fought against some of the more obviously unqualified candidates.
One such candidate recently experienced that fight first hand at her nomination hearing. Betsy DeVos, the candidate for Secretary of Education, was grilled by Senator Bernie Sanders about her personal dealings with the incoming administration and her extreme lack of experience in the field of public education. DeVos is a member of one of the wealthiest families in the United States, and her family has been responsible for more than $200 million in direct monetary contributions to the Republican Party and other organizations that support Republican ideals. These stats come from Mother Jones.
The Center for Responsive Politics has estimated that the DeVos family contributed more than $2.7 million to the Republican field of candidates during the 2016 presidential election. These donations were made across the entire range of candidates, which proves the DeVos family didn’t really care which Republican candidate won, as long as it was a Republican candidate. That sort of attitude, along with the seemingly no-strings-attached donations, creates a very disturbing image for Betsy DeVos as someone who merely bought their way into political power.
DeVos has never once served in a school setting, and she never attended public school in her youth. Not only that, but her own children have never set foot in public schools. DeVos has been a profound critic of the public school system despite having no dog in the race, which is unsettling to those who actually understand the importance of the education system.
When Bernie Sanders was running for president, a huge portion of his campaign was based on the idea of removing entrenched elites from political power. His goal was to remove special interest groups and money in general from the political spectrum, and he has been adamantly vocal about preventing billionaires from controlling the political system from behind a curtain.
When DeVos appeared before the Senate for her confirmation hearing, Bernie Sanders wasted no time in getting his opinion out, and he didn’t hold any punches. He asked DeVos directly if she thought her family’s monetary contributions to the Republican party had affected the decision to nominate her for Secretary of Education. While DeVos paused and smirked in that non-verbal condescending tone that rich elitists tend to express, she casually asserted that she still might be the nominee even if her family hadn’t made such grand donations. She went on to claim that she has been a voice for low-income students and the parents trying to make their lives work smoothly.
Of course, this is a laughable assertion. DeVos has done nothing to help low-income students, unless she is simply considering the students who come from homes with incomes lower than hers. She has been a staunch advocate for charter schools, and her family helped start an organization that awards scholarships to private schools. However, these organizations ignore the millions upon millions of students in the public school system, and DeVos has absolutely no experience dealing with that arena.
So far, Donald Trump has done essentially the opposite of what he promised he would do during his campaign. He promised to ‘drain the swamp’, and yet he seems determine to fill the swamp with more of the same characters.