President-elect Joe Biden campaigned aspirationally on a vision of uniting a country many see as severely, if not hopelessly, divided. After all, while Biden amassed over 80 million votes, the most votes ever tallied by any candidate in a presidential election in U.S. history, Trump hauled in the second-most votes ever, finding the support of over 70 million American voters.
The drama of the impeachment of the nation’s president, reports indicate, simply has not captured the interest or concern of the American audience. Apparently the melodrama of daytime soap operas attracts their attention more than the antics of a corrupt president and administration actively undermining the nation’s security for personal gain at the expense of the people’s interests.
Arguably, Trump’s corrupt behavior and incessant lying should concern the American people. He has misled the people about his support for healthcare policy that ensures coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, his refusal to cut medicare and social security, and hosts of other issues most Americans would tend to understand as “kitchen table” issues, those issues that directly impact their pocketbooks, livelihoods, and ability to take care of their families. It would seem that the corrupt behavior of a president everyday seeking to make American lives worse in the most basic ways would interest voters.
But there is no point arguing. I tried as much when I wrote a piece arguing in a similar vein, titled “Why the Mueller Report is the Kitchen Table Issue of all Kitchen Table Issues,” back when that report was released.
What IS worth highlighting in reporting, though, is the kind of corruption we see in the Trump administration in relation to issues that we actually know Americans care deeply about and which just doesn’t receive as much attention.
I’m talking about issues of public education and the ongoing corrupt behavior of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who continues to work against Americans’ abilities to attain affordable and quality public education. And she does so, like Trump, to line her own pockets.
The magnitude of the impeachment hearings and “trial,” dominating the attention of the American media, provided cover for DeVos’ own more mundane corruption.
Early last December,
DeVos proposed a plan
Back in 2004, Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? elevated the state as the textbook case of how the Republican party has been able to leverage a platform of conservative social values to sway the electorate to vote against its economic interests. Railing against abortion, affirmative action, big government, elitism, political correctness, and the like, Republicans surfed the wave of voters’ cultural outrage to election victories and then performed the bait-and-switch.
As Frank tells the story, these officials, instead of delivering on these platforms, engaged in unbridled deregulation and tax cuts, gutting the public sphere on which people depended, such as the educational system, and concentrating wealth in a fewer and fewer hands at the people’s expense.
In 2018, Kansas voters suddenly got “woke,” deciding they were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. They elected Democrats Laura Kelly as Governor and Sharice Davids to the House of Representatives.
They felt the reality of Republican Governor Sam Brownback’s Kansas, where it became apparent that, lo and behold, massive tax cuts did not pay for themselves, much less increase state revenues, but rather resulted in severe austerity conditions. For example, the school year was shortened due to revenue shortfalls attributable to his criminally huge corporate tax cuts, exposing that these Republican fiscal and tax policies were not benefiting the economic health of the state or creating a higher quality of life. Brownback’s cuts to education were so egregious that they were deemed unconstitutional by the state’s supreme court. Bobby Jindal wreaked similar havoc in Louisiana back in 2016, granting massive tax cuts to the wealthy and corporations, leaving the state in economic chaos and facing massive cuts to education and basic social services. Republican Governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner followed the same playbook, razing the state’s public sphere in the name of restoring economic health by lowering taxes and destroying unions.
As I wrote back then, voters paying attention should have seen what the GOP had in store for them should a Republican win the presidency in 2016. And Trump has indeed realized this vision, lavishing exorbitant tax cuts to the wealthiest among us and to corporations, resulting in the accelerating deterioration of the economy as well as gutting the public sphere. His budget cut proposals as well as the
policies of his Education Secretary Betsy Devos