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Uprising Against DeVos Shows Power of Activism

Betsy DeVos became secretary of education by the narrowest possible margin. AFSCME members and others came oh so close to winning that fight and proved that activism matters.
Uprising Against DeVos Shows Power of Activism
By Jesse Berney ·
Uprising Against DeVos Shows Power of Activism
Rally at the U.S. Senate in opposition to Betsy DeVos. (Photo by Cynthia McCabe)

Vice President Mike Pence had to cast a historic tie-breaking vote in the Senate on Tuesday to confirm Betsy DeVos as the nation’s next secretary of education – the first time in history that a vice president has had to break a tie vote on a Cabinet nominee.

The uprising against DeVos was sparked by the widespread realization that she’s a disastrous choice: a billionaire political donor with no training in education who has never attended public school or sent her children to public schools. Her confirmation is likely to have terrible consequences for our children, our teachers, and all the people who work hard to make our schools run smoothly.

Her opponents are bitterly disappointed, but all is not lost. The uprising against DeVos shows the power of sustained protest and the value in mobilizing dissent – especially at a time when the White House and Congress are hostile to working people and their concerns.

DeVos’ confirmation faced unprecedented opposition from millions of Americans. Senators’ phone lines were overwhelmed, even shut down, by the volume of calls over the past few weeks. AFSCME members joined members of other unions like the American Federation of Teachers, as well as Americans all across the country, to urge their senators to reject DeVos, who worked to dismantle the public school system in her home state of Michigan.

There’s a new spirit of activism sweeping across America. You can see it in the marches – both planned and spontaneous – that fill the streets of cities large and small. You can read it on Facebook and other social media as people come together to oppose special interests and people like DeVos who place the interests of the wealthiest Americans over the interests of working families.

There are more fights to come. More nominees just as bad as Betsy DeVos. More policies that will make it harder for working people to organize and bargain together for a better life. More special interests and their allies in the White House and Congress and state governments who will fight to enrich themselves at the expense of your family’s future.

They're coming for our health care. They’re coming for our retirement. They’re intent on trampling on workers’ rights. And we had better be ready.

No, we didn’t stop DeVos from being confirmed. But we came close. We fought hard and we did get results. We’re up against powerful interests. But we’ll keep fighting. Always.

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