Do We Think We Are Morally and Intellectually Superior?

–by Susan Grigsby (Daily Kos)

Trump’s unexpected Electoral College win has focused attention on the white working-class voters that, it is claimed, the elitist Democratic Party no longer appears to represent. Of course, the Democratic Party has never stopped representing them. We have just never used fear and anger to convince the voters of that representation.

Being Democrats, we will continue our navel gazing and internal strife as we slowly come to terms with the November election results. But we should remember that the Democratic candidate did win the popular vote by a substantial margin and that we continue to represent the white working class, as well as the rest of the American people.

In addition to being accused of elitism, a new meme making the rounds lately claims we lost the election because we think that we are morally and intellectually superior—although it is never made quite clear who we think we are morally and intellectually superior to.

If it is the members of the Republican Party who are proposed to run the government under Donald Trump? Then yes, we clearly are superior.

Let’s examine the evidence. Nominated for secretary of education, Betsy DeVos is totally unaware of the difference between proficiency and growth in standardized testing, as pointed out by Sen. Al Franken. Although not nominated for the position, Franken demonstrably knew more about the issues the secretary would face. And while everyone is aware that she believes guns are needed in schools to protect against possible grizzly bear attacks, some may have missed her initial refusal to admit that the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act trumps state laws.

The current secretary of education since March 2016 is John King. He has spent his adult lifetime involved in education, including service as the commissioner of education for the state of New York prior to joining the federal Department of Education in 2011. Betsy DeVos has no experience in public education, nor have any of her children ever been exposed to it.

Rick Perry, former governor of Texas, has been proposed as secretary of the Department of Energy. That’s a department he claimed he wanted to eliminate during in his 2012 presidential bid—if he could ever remember its name. According to the New York Times report on his nomination:

“If approved by the Senate, he will take over from a secretary, Ernest J. Moniz, who was chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department and directed the linear accelerator at M.I.T.’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science. Before Mr. Moniz, the job belonged to Steven Chu, a physicist who won a Nobel Prize.”

For Mr. Moniz, the future of nuclear science has been a lifelong obsession; he spent his early years working at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Mr. Perry studied animal husbandry and led cheers at Texas A&M University.

Mr. Moniz had such deep experience with nuclear weapons that in 2015, President Obama made him a co-negotiator, along with Secretary of State John Kerry, of the Iran nuclear deal.

Donald Trump wants Tom Price to run the Department of Health and Human Services. His apparent qualifications include the ability to shape legislation to benefit the stockholders (including himself) of corporations in the medical field. Unlike Perry or DeVos, he at least has a tangential connection to the field in which he is tagged to advise the president. Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York has asked the SEC to investigate.

The request to investigate Rep. Tom Price, a Georgia Republican, comes after The Wall Street Journal reported last month that he made trades worth more than $300,000 in stocks of biomedical, pharmaceutical and health insurers while serving on the health subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee, sponsoring and advocating legislation that potentially could affect those companies’ stock.

In addition to suspected insider trading, he is unalterably opposed to contraception, according to Amanda Marcotte. This despite the fact that wide access to contraception has been credited with the largest drop in abortions since Roe v. Wade.

Price has been quite open about his hostility to contraception. As a member of Congress, he has voted to terminate Title X, a program that subsidizes contraception for low-income women. He voted against a law barring employers from firing women for using contraception. He hates Planned Parenthood and he really hates the federal regulation, under the Affordable Care Act, that requires insurance plans to cover contraception without a copay.

To justify his opposition to insurance coverage for contraception, Price sneeringly told ThinkProgress in 2012, “Bring me one woman who has been left behind” by plans that don’t cover contraception adequately.

Not that the Affordable Care Act is expected to survive the Republican government that was elected in November.

Current Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell has extensive experience in managing large complex organizations, most recently as director of the Office of Management and Budget. Before her most recent federal service, Burwell served as head of the Walmart Foundation, supervising the distribution of $1 billion to help end hunger and empower women around the world.

Before joining the Foundation in 2012, she was President of the Global Development Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington, where she spent 10 years working on some of the world’s most pressing challenges, from vaccinations to children’s health to agricultural development. She also served as the Foundation’s first Chief Operating Officer.

Price, meanwhile, was a physician and a member of Congress.

I watched President Obama’s press conference last week with a great deal of regret, remembering how proud I was during his first one. There was not a single question to which he did not respond in complete sentences and organized paragraphs. His answers were clear and, while often complex, totally spontaneous.

Donald Trump, terrified of the press, is considering removing them from the White House and intends to continue communicating with the American people via social media.

As for being morally superior, I will proudly stand with men and women like the Rev. William Barber of North Carolina, who began the Moral Monday movement to fight back against the Republican agenda of voter suppression in North Carolina. Meanwhile, the Republicans offer us Franklin Graham, a purveyor of hate and intolerance under the flag of Christ.

Their version of morality calls for the wealthy to increase their wealth while millions of children in America go to bed hungry for food and for education. Their morality dictates corporate tax subsidies instead of decent housing, education, and medical care for all Americans. It sees women only as incubators and homemakers. It is a morality that invests in weapons systems rather than roads, bridges, airports, and schools. And it is this morality, this supposed Christian morality, that they want made mandatory.

Perhaps the reason that so many of us appear to think that we are morally and intellectually superior is that we are.


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