Published August 29, 2022
Biden’s bailout of the academically indebted confirms that Democrats are no longer even pretending to be the party of the working man. This giveaway forces carpenters to subsidize Harvard Law grads working prestigious federal clerkships before cashing in with Big Law and engineers who worked hard to pay off their debts to cover the tabs run up by underemployed sociology graduates.
The proposed student loan bailout is bad policy on every level. It adds hundreds of billions more to the inflationary inferno. It creates massive perverse incentives. Colleges can keep raising tuition, and students can keep borrowing to pay for it while hoping (and lobbying) for another round of bailouts.
Further, it is regressive, transferring money from the poor and working classes to the well-to-do. And, to add insult (and more injury), this is happening as the Internal Revenue Service hires tens of thousands of new agents to audit ordinary Americans and their businesses.
This redistribution of student loan debt from borrowers to everyone else is being done because those who owe a lot in student loans, and those who got the cash from those loans, are the Democratic Party’s base.
The student loan bailout serves the immediate political goal of rallying the Democrats’ voters by paying them off before the midterms. It also keeps the money train rolling into the Democratic stronghold of higher education rather than reforming it; handing out piles of cash is not going to make college cheaper. And, of course, it serves the personal interests of the many Democratic staffers and activists who are paying off student loans.
All of this demonstrates a view of politics as the acquisition of power in order to reward friends and punish enemies. And it also reveals those whom Democrat leaders regard as their friends and those they see as enemies. These friends include both the student debtors and the academics who profited from that debt. Oddly enough, the former rarely blame the latter, who set the prices and pocket the money.
The cost of higher education is indeed out of control, even as classes are increasingly taught by underpaid grad student assistants and temporary adjunct professors. The increase is driven by administrative and facility bloat, with ever-more administrators overseeing increasingly resort-like campuses, but the Biden higher-ed handout will only encourage more of the same, funded by a continuing river of federal student loans and the hope of another bailout.
Somehow, there will always be money for another diversity, equity, and inclusion initiative, with well-paid staff to run it.
This is the point at which the self-interest and ideology of higher education combine against the working class. The woke ideology that arose within and now rules academia legitimates the rule of its acolytes over them.
As the woke see it, a degree is not only a credential but is also a claim to moral superiority. Wokeness has deprioritized the left’s older concerns about economic oppression and privilege in order to emphasize identitarian categories such as race, sex, and gender, thereby allowing even the wealthy and powerful to claim permanent victim status.
Wokeness is thereby ideal for excusing the oppression of the working class. Not only is the new leftist orthodoxy less concerned about wealth, poverty, and labor, but it also tends to view the poor, and especially the working class, as incubators of oppressive beliefs (racism, sexism, homophobia, and so on) that must be rooted out. Thus, as Democrats become dominated by the woke, they increasingly see the working class as an enemy. People who earn their livelihood by building and repairing and suchlike are, generally speaking, not that interested in critical race theory, gender ideology, or other woke fads.
The heart of the Democratic Party is not the union hall anymore (if it ever was), but woke college grads who spend too much time on Twitter.
They believe that their education and the woke ideology they internalize while pursuing it certifies them as both morally and intellectually superior to the rest of the populace. Consider, for example, Caitlyn from HR lecturing hourly workers about diversity or public school teachers hiding from parents the gender identities young students have been encouraged to adopt.
The adherents of wokeness are functionally a new clerical class, ensuring the compliance of institutions from Big Tech to the corporate media. And, of course, they, and especially the many adjutants and hangers-on among them, believe they deserve a big handout, even if they have to plunder the working class to get it.
The fact that Biden gave it to them tells blue-collar workers all they need to know about their place in today’s Democratic Party.
Nathanael Blake, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His primary research interests are American political theory, Christian political thought, and the intersection of natural law and philosophical hermeneutics. His published scholarship has focused on Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Alasdair MacIntyre and Russell Kirk. He is currently working on a study of J.R.R. Tolkien’s anti-rationalism. As a cultural observer and commentator, he is also fascinated at how our secularizing culture develops substitutes for the loss of religious symbols, meaning and order.