In the wake of the recent election, President-elect Donald Trump has been in the limelight as he chooses the members of his administration.
His controversial decisions to appoint Steve Bannon as chief strategist and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education have been met with sharp criticism from Republicans and Democrats alike, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders and conservative commentators Glenn Beck and Ben Shapiro.
As Trump has given Bannon and DeVos enormously powerful positions to advance their platforms and beliefs, both pose different but significant dangers to the wellbeing of the national government and our country.
Prior to serving as Trump’s chief campaign manager, Steve Bannon was the executive chair of “Breitbart News” a far-right news website that has published articles titled, “There’s no hiring bias against women in tech, they just suck at interviews,” Bill Kristol: Republican spoiler, renegade Jew,” “Would you rather your child had feminism or cancer,” “Science proves it: fat-shaming works,” and “Why equality and diversity departments should only hire rich, straight white men.”
These articles are inflammatory, racist, anti-Semitic and sexist, reflecting the prejudiced, white nationalist and even disturbing ideals of the alternative-right.
The extreme opinions propagated by “Breitbart News,” under Bannon’s control, have lead former “Breitbart News” editor-at-large and conservative commentator Ben Shapiro to state, “‘Breitbart News’ has become the alt-right go to website… pushing white ethno-nationalism as a legitimate response to political correctness, and the comment section turning into a cesspool for white supremacist mememakers.”
Whether or not Bannon is personally racist or anti-Semitic, “Breitbart News’” unabashed promotion of the dangerous ideologies of the alt-right reflects Bannon’s willingness to normalize and promote hate and extremism under the guise of being “politically-incorrect.”
By appointing Bannon as chief strategist, Trump has given Bannon a platform to express the dangerous ideals detailed in “Breitbart News’” publications, giving Bannon, and by extension, “Breitbart News” and the alternative-right, access to a platform of significant power and influence.
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s Secretary of Education, is a strong supporter of school-choice, a variety of measures meant to assist families in pursuing alternatives to public schooling.
Although this sounds favorable in theory, school-choice ultimately results in the decrease of funding for public schools, causing them to suffer from an increased inability to provide for the needs of children.
North Carolina’s rapid decline in public school funding and quality is a pertinent example of the dangers of attempted efforts to promote school-choice.
Under a majority-Republican legislature, funding for school supplies, textbooks and teachers’ assistants fell by nearly one billion dollars from 2008 to 2016 in North Carolina, leading numerous political commentators to call the North Carolina legislatures’ efforts to institute school-choice, a war on public education.
As roughly 90 percent of students across the country attend public schools, it is more practical to increase spending for public schools instead of promoting measures that have not been successful and that pose a threat to the condition of our public schools and the success of the majority of the children in our country.
By appointing Bannon and DeVos as members of his administration, Trump has sent a clear message that he agrees with, or at least is able to reasonably justify their positions and past behaviors.
In Bannon’s case, this demonstrate Trump’s willingness to pander to a volatile and threatening audience and to justify their extremist views.
By appointing DeVos as Secretary of Education, Trump indicates that he will likely pursue school-choice efforts at the expense of public schools, which has shown to be ineffective and damaging at the state level.
We have already seen the beginning of negative repercussions of Trump’s administrative appointments and will experience the consequences for years to come.