If Trump is planning to surrender Eastern Europe to the Russians or start a world war with the Chinese, perhaps his secretary of state nominee deserved an all-night talkathon of opposition. If he’s bent on domestic authoritarianism with a racist tinge, then it’s Jeff Sessions, his attorney general, who presents the natural target for Democratic protest. If the biggest problem is that Trump will nominate allies who are unqualified for their responsibilities, then the choice of Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development seems like an obvious place to draw a line.
.. Never mind that the bulk of DeVos’s school-choice work places her only somewhat to the right of the Obama administration’s pro-charter-school positioning, close to centrist Democrats like Senator Cory Booker. None of that mattered
.. it tracks with much of what we know about school choice in general — that it offers real potential benefits without being a panacea.
.. So why did the Democrats fight so hard? Because in this particular case, the rules of normal pre-Trump politics still apply.
First, when interest groups talk, politicians listen — and the teachers’ unions are simply more powerful in Democratic circles, with more money and leverage and clout, than most of the groups leading the charge against other Trump policies or nominees.
.. upper-middle-class suburbanites haven’t lost their influence, and they generally like their public schools and regard school choice as a threat rather than a promise. Charters and vouchers are most appealing to the poor, the religious and the eccentric — to low-income families locked into failing schools and religious conservatives and bohemians with ideological doubts about the content of the public-school curriculum.
.. But the fervor and pitch of the opposition basically reflected the present Democratic Party at its worst: unstinting in defense of bureaucracy and its employees, more excited about causes dear to the upper middle class than the interests of the poor, and always girding for the battle with the Real Enemy, religious conservatives, no matter what the moment actually demands.