The rightwing Manhattan Institute recently honored a Betsy DeVos with its Alexander Hamilton Award.

Mercedes Schneider brilliantly explains that Betsy DeVos knows nothing about Alexander Hamilton or his convictions. Indeed, her anti-government views are the opposite of Hamilton’s, but she doesn’t know that.

Schneider writes:

According to MI, its Alexander Hamilton Award is named such “because, like the Manhattan Institute, he was a fervent proponent of commerce and civic life. ” However, Hamilton was clearly pro-centralized government, which makes the award an MI misnomer since MI uses it to honor the likes of DeVos, whose ideology is much more in line with the Antifederalists of Hamilton’s day.

The contradiction did not go unnoticed; on May 03, 2019, Think Progress published an article entitled, “Betsy DeVos Appears to Have No Idea Who Alexander Hamilton Was” From the article:

…The entire purpose of the agency Education Secretary DeVos leads is to use the resources of the federal government to foster better public education. Let’s also set aside the fact that the overwhelming majority of American primary and secondary school students — 90 percent — are educated by government-run schools. If DeVos plans to fight for “freedom from government,” she is in the worst possible job.

Yet DeVos doesn’t just appear to be rejecting the core mission of her agency and the foundational premise of the American education system. She also seems to have no idea who Alexander Hamilton is or what he sought to accomplish as the architect of much of America’s economic system. The early history of the United States was, to a large extent, a battle between a Jeffersonian model built on agriculture, small government, and slavery; and a Hamiltonian model built on capitalism, economic expansion, and a robust centralized government.

Hamilton’s core insight was that healthy markets and a robust manufacturing sector do not emerge from the ether so long as centralized authorities do not interfere. Rather, the vibrant economy that Hamilton helped build depends on a strong central government authority.

Below are excerpts from DeVos’ speech for the MI event, which she characteristically uses as a slant for her own pro-choice, anti-union agenda:

The Federalist Papers, to which Hamilton contributed a great deal, cautioned against a tyranny of factions. These groups of agitators jealously protect and advance their own self-interests to the detriment of just about everyone else.

Sound familiar? Education unions, the association of this, the organization of that… those are today’s factions. One of their own, the late Al Shanker, said this: “I don’t see a voice for students in the bargaining process. I think it’s one of the facts of life… the consumer, basically, is left out.”

That union boss admitted then what’s still true today: factions keep student voices out. But it’s way past time to let them in!

Note that the Federalist Papers were meant to assuage public fears about a centralized, federal government, but DeVos tries to shape a reference to them in order to discredit teachers’ unions.

DeVos is single-minded. She believes that her mission in life is to destroy public schools, weaken the federal government, and crush teachers’ unions. Why is this woman in charge of the U.S. Department of Education, which she despises?

This is one of Mercedes Schneider’s best pieces.

She concludes, with irony:

At the opening of her MI speech, DeVos comments, “I must admit I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve such an honor.”


So many layers to that sandwich.