Trump’s threat-tweet about funding to Berkeley is a dog whistle to distract his base

Trump’s threat to cut funding is either more evidence of how ignorant he is of the facts, or it’s evidence of him blowing a dog whistle to his base as part of a leadership style that is predicated on intimidation, misinformation, misdirection, and bullying even when he has no power to do what he threatens to do.

I think it’s the latter.


First, the data. The facts. They show to whom he appealed in the campaign, and for whom the whistle is being blown.

He won 61% of white, non-college educated, women. They made up just 17% of the electorate.

He won 71% of non-college educated, white, men. They were the smallest block in this category at just 16% of the electorate.

He just barely won more than one-half, 53%, of white, college educated, men. They were a voter block that was just 17% of the total voters.

Add it up. He won impressively with non-college educated voters, especially men, but even when you add in the narrow majority of educated white men, this is a voting block that totals 50% of the voters.

He pretty decisively lost white, college educated, women. Alone, they were 20% of total voters.

He was crushed in the non-white block of voters regardless of education levels. Together with educated white women, they make up the other one-half of voters.

I think these facts tells us a lot.

I think they tell us that the people who are white and who have less formal education – and who, I’m guessing, would confirm themselves to being avid consumers of information from sources like Fox, Limbaugh, Breitbart, InfoWars, and countless others – love Trump for, once again, being bombastic and making threats.

What makes no sense is why anyone, including his supporters, should applaud his threats to funding higher education.

How is it even possible that education becomes a target for Trump, and how is it even remotely possible that his supporters could join him and cheer him on in that?

Let me be clear. This isn’t about whether or not everyone should go to college. This isn’t about colleges somehow threatening free speech. That’s ridiculous.

What this is about is a president who threatens the very idea of education. And, yes, DeVos is a clear example of this threat, too.

I’m issuing this plea to his supporters. Please look at the question of education, what Trump and DeVos are saying about it, and understand that you are working against yourselves, your kids, their future, and the future of this country by attacking education, especially as is the case this time, when there’s no justification for the criticism.

Trump is blowing a dog whistle to make it seem like higher education – any education – is, what, another liberal conspiracy to silence dissenting voices??? Anyone who has spent any time on a college campus knows that to be completely untrue, and that is the case again with Berkeley and the protests.

I’m asking Trump supporters to do one other thing. Forget Berkeley for now.

What I’m asking instead is for Trump supporters to realize that if America’s taxpayer-funded public education system was extended to apprenticeship programs and to 2-year and 4-year programs and degrees of all kinds, they and their children could get the education they need to be more competitive in a global economy and to have good paying jobs.

Here are the facts.

Companies are going begging for people to hire, but only people with the necessary education.

With the right post-secondary education, Trump supporters (and those who aren’t) and their kids would have the knowledge and skills to be hired into good paying middle class (and now called middle-skilled) jobs because they’d have the education those jobs demand.

Don’t believe it?

When the German engineering company Siemens Energy opened a gas turbine production plant in Charlotte, N.C., some 10,000 people showed up at a job fair for 800 positions. But fewer than 15 percent of the applicants were able to pass a reading, writing and math screening test geared toward a ninth-grade education.
(“Wanted: Factory Workers, Degree Required“; New York Times, Jan 30, 2017)

Want more evidence?

“In our factories, there’s a computer about every 20 or 30 feet,” said Eric Spiegel, who recently retired as president and chief executive of Siemens U.S.A. “People on the plant floor need to be much more skilled than they were in the past. There are no jobs for high school graduates at Siemens today.”

Good paying jobs with a future now require more than a high school education. People like my father who worked in manufacturing his whole life with nothing more than a high school diploma – and who then retired with dignity thanks to a union who ensured their workers reaped some of the rewards from their labor through a defined benefit pension – cannot and should not expect to find anything even close to that now.

Anything even resembling a decent paying job in the 21st century requires more knowledge than high school can provide. And, unless Trump supporters are ready to join the fight for a federally imposed living wage, the only way to make a living wage will be to have the knowledge and skills employers want.

That’s why it’s so obvious that when it comes to workers and wages, there’s only more bad news for Trump supporters.


It’s sad to see Trump supporters believing his rhetoric about bringing back good paying jobs. I hope someday they realize that not only is he not even talking about bringing back the jobs he’s created overseas himself from his own businesses, his choice of Andrew Puzder to lead the Department of Labor is a slap across every American worker’s face.

President Donald Trump’s pick for labor secretary outsourced his fast-food company’s technology department to the Philippines, a move that contradicts Trump’s vow to keep American jobs in the U.S.
(“Trump’s choice for labor secretary outsourced jobs”; Fox (yes, Fox) Business News, Jan 27, 2017.)

There are lots of ways to grow an economy, but there aren’t many ways other than education to be part of it.

I can’t encourage Trump supporters enough to read the above NYT article, and to join the fight to both modernize and properly fund education in America, as well as to force corporations to more equitably share in the wealth they create for their senior managers and shareholders. That is not what Puzder is about.

And, when it comes to education, DeVos wants to privatize public education and turn it into a for-profit venture for private companies. If you Trump supporters thought you were being left behind before, you won’t even be able to see the tail lights of the economy speeding away from you if she gets her way because you and your kids won’t be able to afford to be educated.

Free-market ed reformers deny or dismiss the inevitable outcome of vouchers: an even more unequal K-12 system than we have today. Middle-class parents will add as much money as they can to their vouchers in order to get their kids into the best possible schools. The wealthy will spend whatever it takes to create an elite strata of schools that insure their kids’ advantages. Lower-middle-class families will scour the system for decent schools they can afford; they’ll find that the more decent the school, the higher the demand for it, and the higher the price. And the poor? They will go to “government schools”—a term that market ed reformers have long used to describe what everyone else calls public schools.
(“Milton Friedman, Betsy DeVos, and the Privatization of Public Education”; Common Dreams, Jan 17, 2017

This is a sincere appeal to Trump supporters. I sincerely hope that they will start to give this idea of what a post-secondary education means, and what it can mean economically for them and their kids.

The root issue I hope they’ll understand is this. Trump and people like him don’t really care about them and don’t really want them to be educated.

Why not?

Because educated people tend to be very hard to manipulate

Thank you, Senators Collins and Murkowski

I was going to say “half”, but it’s less than one-half of America who has officially jumped the shark on all of this.

First, let’s never forget – and let’s not let America forget – that Trump lost the popular vote by 3 million votes. He has no mandate, and he is proving more and more everyday how inept, incompetent, and dangerous he and his circle of sycophants and manipulators are.

trump-and-devosNow, I’m very happy that ordinary citizens could influence them, but I’m not ready to give any special “credit” to Senators Collins or Murkowski for simply acting with reason and intellect.

I’m glad they are voting against DeVos, but they aren’t “courageous” for voting against a completely unqualified and obscenely rich “swamp monster” like DeVos.

Any legislator worth the leather they park their asses on should be running her out of town on a rail.

Now, if Trump voters were actually honest with themselves and with the rest of America, and if they actually demonstrated the courage of their convictions to hold their politicians to account, they would be howling the loudest over her, Tillerson, Mnuchin and the rest of the wealthy elites Trump wants in his cabinet.

The fact that they aren’t tells us a lot, I think.