“Family Values with Grandma Betsy”
“I’m more misunderstood than anything.” a quote from our Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, that embodies a common assertion of the Republican party as their ‘family values’ become established policies throughout all three branches of the United State’s government. Inspired by these values, Betsy Devos is actively weakening democratic institutional standards in the United States through: 1. Non secular focused education policies and 2. Active government work with conflicts of interests.
Secretary Devos hails from Holland, Michigan, the state in which she established her family, and based her extensive political and financial ambitions throughout her life. Betsy Devos, as Secretary of Education and an actual grandmother, acts as the figurative ‘Grandma’ of the modern GOP through her divinely inspired values of religious consideration in education, and caring attitude towards the importance of individual choice in schooling; that like its supportive party is “more misunderstood than anything.”
Grandma Devos acts as one of the leading feminine voices of the Republican party, influencing thousands of women that still identify with the GOP despite the party’s continued support of President Trump’s documented misogynistic attitude, belief in limiting women’s reproductive rights, and lack of action concerning the pay gap by its legislative base.
Considering these ideals, many women of the GOP feel “misunderstood” just as Grandma Devos stated she felt within her recent 60 minute interview, as their family values maintain and spiritually justify their party allegiance. Many conservatives face the struggle of adhering to their (2)family and religious values while also maintaining the (1)values of democracy in their political opinion due to the two sets of value often contradicting themselves in practice.
(1) A principle democratic value is the promotion of proper representation of the people in which accountability from the government concerns all citizens as political equals. According to Yale Professor of Political Science, Ellen Lust, “Accountability has two parts: ‘answerability’ and ‘punishment.’ Answerability refers to obligation of public officials to provide information about their activities and to justify them; to offer both facts and explanations. Punishment refers to the capacity to impose negative sanctions on officeholders who violate certain rules of conduct.” (Lust p.3, USAID)
(2) Family values held by the Republican party are regarded as “Principles for American Renewal,” which are defined as the value in “traditions of family, life, religious liberty, and hard work,” according to the official website of the GOP.
An example of the contradictory nature of these values becoming policy then effectively eroding democratic standards is portrayed in the $1 billion reallocation of funds within the proposed, “Taxpayer First” budget influenced by the Department of Education. Within the budget, funding reallocation favors charter and religious schools further advancing them economically over public educational institutes. This policy is reasoned by the idea of leveling the economic contributions of the government among educational institutions of America, which would promote the ability of a perceived more fair choice in schooling for parents.
The effects of this redistribution of funding will raise the quality of education offered by private institutions, who’s student enrollment is based on financial ability or private admission standards, at the cost of public schools. By limiting the public sector of education to financially aid private interests, the general welfare of the United State’s is not promoted through this government budget allocation. If an American quality education is less publicly available then the quality education of the country will no longer be American, but private, adhering to the interests of privileged people’s welfare.
A second example of democratic backsliding is demonstrated through lack of intra-government accountability between the Department of Education and Secretary Devos, who has yet to divest three different family trusts, or report her assets in two trusts she currently holds within her portfolio to legislation or the public. (“Devos Watch, Year One,” US Senator Warren) Devos actively not adhering to the ethical standards of the previous Secretaries of Education, could profit from her job as Secretary, without government or public knowledge. Any growth within these unreleased trusts would remain unknown, while additionally contrasting law 5 CFR 2635.702, which states, “an employee shall not use his public office for his own private gain…”
This lack of disclosure undermines democratic principles, pronouns aside, by allowing government officials, specifically Secretary Devos, to potentially profit from their position in government. Furthermore, Secretary Devos by not releasing this information, is indirectly adhering to her party’s principle of “hard work,” by maintaining her “earned” profits that, under Republican thinking, are the proof of her hard work; so why would she release them, especially considering President Trump has yet to release his taxes?
Considering these examples, the conflicting interests of the Republican party can be better understood as the promotion of their own considered family values and religious ideologies that influence their political demands and wants as a party. These values directly influencing political thought is why the Republican party feels so misunderstood during these times of their own policy implementation. By logically acting in accordance with the GOP’s family and religious values through policy, the Republican party feels it is acting out of American interests genuinely, considering their highly patriotic attitude as a political party, and current majority throughout the government. However, these interests by highlighting private and religious promotion, specifically concerning education, do not reflect American values considering this predominant theological, not moral, root in the party’s political platform.
The ongoing “misunderstanding” of politics in the United States can only be changed by individual accountability in tolerance and the want to learn among the diverse and equal beliefs of the US. The maintenance of democracy, within the current age of information, must be kept through accountability from individuals of the government, whether elected, hired, or appointed, as well as the public.
The concept of accountability can be further applied in almost every aspect of life: such as a worker’s occupation responsibilities, to religious faith and corresponding actions, to even the love an individual lives through for another person. No matter what the situation, if an individual holds themselves accountable for their words and actions, honesty may thrive and true progress can strive.
Image provided by, Las Vegas Review Journal, within article “President Trump Visits Private School in Florida with Betsy Devos, and Marco Rubio”