There are two kinds of political activists: those who dedicate their time to a worthy political cause, and those who are absolutely awesome at it. One of those people who are absolutely awesome at advocating for a worthy political cause is Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the author of the book Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid, and the Betrayal of the American Dream.
Goldrick-Rab is not just a professor and an author about the high cost of higher education in this country. She’s also a staunch advocate for ideas to make higher education affordable in America, and, for her advocacy, she’s earned a spot in this year’s POLITICO 50, a list of more than 50 of the most politically influential people and institutions in America published by POLITICO Magazine. Here’s what POLITICO Magazine wrote about Goldrick-Rab’s work:
Clinton’s plan, however, was neither the highest-profile nor most radical. It was Bernie Sanders who campaigned on the issue most vocally during the primaries, pushing not just debt-free college but universal free tuition for public higher education. That idea has roots in the work of Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. In 2014, Goldrick-Rab proposed a “free two-year college option” that would cover tuition at public universities, as well as some living expenses. The plan drew on her study of more than 3,000 students receiving federal aid and Pell Grants in Wisconsin, which revealed that those students were still crippled by living costs.
I’ve never met Sara Goldrick-Rab in person, but, as someone who is an online friend of Goldrick-Rab (I follow her on Twitter), she is an absolutely awesome person who truly cares about . I’m proud of her.
You can view Goldrick-Rab’s website here and view her Twitter page here.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said this to the editorial board of the far-right Des Moines Register, a newspaper that endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 general election for president:
Make no mistake about it, work requirements for college students would encourage less Americans to attend college and would make America even more of a low-wage economy than it currently is. It’s extremely difficult for college students to work even a part-time job while attending several college classes per day. Furthermore, the vast majority of college students who do work while in college work low-wage jobs, such as flipping hamburgers at fast food restaurants. People go to college to work a good-paying job after graduation, not work a low-wage job while attending college.
On the other hand, Bernie Sanders has a real plan to make college more affordable by taxing Wall Street speculation to pay for truly affordable higher education without a ton of strings attached. With countries like Germany moving to steal our nation’s future by making higher education more affordable, America can’t afford another Clinton workfare scheme.
Make no mistake about it, the growing student debt problem in this country is one of the most serious problems facing this country. However, I believe that heavily emphasizing student loan reform and other college affordability measures hurts Democrats electorally.
There are two reasons why I believe that making student loan reform and other college affordability measures a key part of a Democratic campaign’s message, as Hillary Clinton has done, runs the risk of being an electoral loser for Democrats. First, most Americans don’t really care about student debt, unless they’re directly impacted by it. Secondly, emphasizing college affordability as a key part of a campaign message only resonates with voters that are directly impacted by student debt (mostly younger voters who are either in college or recently graduated from college), in effect, leaving blue-collar voters, such as poor minorities and white working-class people, essentially abandoned by the political party that best represents their interests, which is the Democratic Party.
Would I suggest that Democratic candidates drop college affordability plans altogether? Absolutely not. Would I suggest that Democrats not talk about student loan reform and college affordability? Absolutely not. In fact, I believe that the student debt problem in this country needs to be seriously addressed, as Bernie Sanders has done with his plan to tax Wall Street speculation to pay for a plan for more affordable higher education in America. However, Democrats cannot afford to abandon poor and working-class voters by overemphasizing an issue that few people in this country seem to care about.
With the possibility of Republicans winning control of both houses of Congress for the first time since the first two years of George W. Bush’s second term in the White House looming over the November 4 elections, I want to remind everybody how frightening Republicans winning control of the U.S. Senate and retaining control of the U.S. House is.
Should Republicans win control of the Senate and retain control of the House, Republicans will probably pass a sweeping, Wisconsin-style far-right agenda, including legislation like:
- Passing a nationwide right-to-work-for-less bill, allowing workers to benefit from collective bargaining agreements without paying union dues for collective bargaining (if not completely banning labor unions altogether)
- Passing restrictions on abortion, contraception, and other women’s health procedures, up to and including attempting to propose a federal constitutional amendment banning abortion, contraception, and many other women’s health procedures
- Repealing the federal Voting Rights Act, making it easier for states to implement voter suppression schemes
- Repealing the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, allowing many forms of racial discrimination
- Eliminating Pell grants and other programs that help people pay for college, making it harder for young people to go to college
- Completely repealing the Affordable Care Act, taking away health insurance from millions of Americans who were recently uninsured
- Eliminating regulations on banks and other financial institutions, making it easier for them to engage in risky practices that were the primary cause of the Great Recession
- Allowing mining and drilling in National Parks and other federally-protected lands, destroying the value of our country’s natural wonders and hurting the tourism industry
- Handing out tax cuts and other tax breaks to wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests, resulting in a bigger federal budget deficit and national debt (if not implementing a full-blown regressive taxation scheme by completely repealing the federal income tax and replacing it with a federal sales tax, shifting the tax burden to poor, working-class, and middle-class Americans)
- Completely repealing Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other social safety net programs, leaving millions of seniors without a source of income and leaving millions of Americans without health insurance
- Eliminating all federal campaign finance restrictions, making it even easier for wealthy people, corporations, and other special interests to buy federal elections and have an even bigger undue influence over federal politicians
- Repealing the federal minimum wage, putting millions of working Americans into poverty and driving millions more into even deeper poverty
- Eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency and federal environmental regulations, allowing corporations to pollute the air we breathe and the water we drink
- Repealing federal laws mandating equal pay for equal work, allowing employers to discriminate against women by paying men more than women
Sadly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the right-wing legislation that a fully Republican-controlled Congress could pass. Don’t think for one second that people like Pat Toomey, Mark Kirk, Kelly Ayotte, and Susan Collins would oppose some or most of the far-right agenda just because they represent states/constituencies that usually vote for Democratic presidential candidates. The Ted Cruz-types in the Republican Party are going to demand that they pass as much far-right legislation as possible, and the so-called “moderates” in the GOP would go along with them every time and rubber stamp everything they do.
Should Republicans win control of the Senate, they will be hell bent on turning America into a third-world country. The only thing that would stop them from doing is President Barack Obama, who would likely veto nearly everything the Republicans pass. If you don’t want Republicans passing a destructive far-right agenda, go vote against the Republican bastards on November 4.