Korges: Silver linings in Betsy DeVos confirmation



Wilson Korges

Betsy DeVos’ nomination as secretary of Education has been highly contested, coming only after a historical tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. Having heard general despair from both the left and the right on this issue, as fruitless as it may seem, I’d like to point out a few positive notes that have surfaced from watching this all unfold.

The amount of student interest in the nomination itself is promising. As secretary of Education, DeVos will have a sweeping role when it comes to education. It is important that students and younger voters take note of those in government who have influence over their education and, by extension, their futures.

Being more aware of the roles those in government play in the fundamentals of our daily lives means that we can be better aware of the changes we would like to see made around us, as well as hold people who make detrimental changes accountable for their actions.

Republics thrive on an educated public, and understanding DeVos’ future role and the abilities and duties that role entails, means being prepared for future debates on education and responsibility. It is therefore promising to note the active interest so many people and students have taken in the results of this nomination.  

DeVos’ nomination also proves that there are Republican senators willing to compromise. While this may seem like a small victory on the surface, when considering the struggles of the Obama administration to secure a bipartisan compromise, this is a momentous moment. Party lines have not been so sharply drawn that compromise is no longer possible. This comes as happy news at a time when America feels bitterly divided.  

This will to compromise implies a dedication to representing one’s constituents that is a fortunate sign for these upcoming months.

The New York Times Editorial Board wrote that “Republicans seem worried that the more time the Senate has to examine some of these nominees’ backgrounds, the more chance a Republican or three could break ranks.”

That is exactly what has happened. Most notably, this has happened as the result of senators listening directly to their constituents  proof of a still-functioning republic. If you had been considering reaching out to your local or national representatives, hopefully this reassurance encourages you to do so. People have proved themselves to be listening, and there is still a chance to make a difference in the Trump administration.

The involvement of Pence in the the nomination as a tie-breaking vote is simply one more way in which this confirmation is historic. The response toward Trump’s nominations have been astounding. While presidential nominations traditionally are confirmed with little contention, Trump has had fewer than half of his nominations confirmed thus far.

DeVos’ nomination stands as one of the most contentious in history. The amount of backlash and the fact that it was necessary for Pence to be brought in to break the standstill tie are both impressive signs of struggle for what, under other circumstances, might have been seen simply as a matter of routine. Where no fight would normally be expected, there was one, and a substantial one at that. The nomination was eventually confirmed, but barely.

DeVos barely being confirmed is a stunning concept. While I have heard dismay from both sides of the divide about the confirmation, the votes it took to get confirmed remain something to seriously ponder when thinking about the next few years. Will we see more compromise between parties, more surprisingly successful resistance, more close calls? It seems likely that this recent contentious nomination may be showing signs of more resolute triumphs to come.