As appointments for Trump’s cabinet continue to undergo preliminary hearings, national attention has been turned toward Trump’s pick for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. Between her formal hearing and the follow-up questions asked of her by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, DeVos’ hearing revealed her lack of experience and knowledge in running a department of the United States government. Despite this apparent inadequacy, DeVos was appointed on Tuesday, Feb. 7 in a tiebreaker vote broken by Vice President Mike Pence. The appointment of DeVos is a mistake, not only because of her shortcomings in the knowledge of the office she now heads, but also because her appointment sends a statement about the power of incompetency in Trump’s America.
The video of Devos’ hearing makes it apparent that she is unfit for the office she’s being vetted for. She argued in favor of guns in schools in front of a representative from Newtown, Conn., the sight of the deadly school shooting in 2012. As reported by The Washington Post, this argument consisted of the example of a school in Wyoming and their need for a gun to protect themselves “from potential grizzlies.” She told Senator Bernie Sanders that it was possible her family had donated anywhere around $200 million to the Republican Party over the years. She has no experience in dealing with public schools, rather spearheading the expansion of for-profit, private charter schools and the use of school vouchers, “which can allow students to carry taxpayer dollars to private schools, for-profit schools, religious schools and online schools” as The New York Times reports. DeVos has garnered so much media attention and state senators have received such an inundation of outcries from the public that she was confirmed through a tiebreaker on behalf of Vice President Mike Pence because the Senate was locked into a 50/50 vote.
During a line of questioning from Senator Tim Kaine on whether she supports accountability of public, public charter or private schools that receive federal funding, DeVos repeatedly replied “I support accountability,” not wanting to give a firm yes or no response. It is in only this case that I would have to say I support it too; I support accountability of programs being given federal funding, but more than that I support accountability of our leaders. I want DeVos held accountable for her lack of knowledge about the department she’s been nominated for and so do other people. We as a nation have to be extra vigilant these days and so far Trump’s incompetence has only allowed for the incompetence of others. So why shouldn’t the American people and the other senators elected into office to represent our best interests be critical of her?
I’m not an “actual” adult; my parents still help me financially in some cases — I work a part time job with no stressful demands and my biggest responsibility right now is to pass all my classes. But even I, as a person who hasn’t even lived a full two decades of life, know that in the real world, employers care about whether you can actually do your job. They care about your competence in that position, they pay close attention to your performance and they hold you accountable if mistakes are made. As the election season of this past year wore on, I became bewildered by what was being allowed to happen in this “real world.” This world, where men who brag of assault and openly discriminate against multiple ethnic groups and make fun of disabled reporters are elected president of the United States.
Moving forward, however, if Trump was too slippery to be held accountable on the campaign trail, it’s now up to the general public to hold him and all his appointees accountable in their elected offices. If this means voicing a strong opposition of Betsy DeVos, standing by Elizabeth Warren, who is making my home state proud in how critical she has been of this current administration and holding DeVos accountable now that she has been confirmed then I will be among that group of dissenters. Betsy DeVos isn’t fit for the office she’s been appointed to and it is clear that we as a nation have to be the ones who demand higher standards from our elected representatives, as our president is certainly not going to be the one to do so.