Chuck Schumer, Cowardly Lion

I signed an online petition to Senate Minority Leader Schumer (Democrat- NY) calling on him to oppose the nomination of Betsy “Amway” DeVos as Secretary of Education. A little after her Senate approval, Senator Schumer emailed me a response. Chuck is a “cowardly lion.” He needs to be replaced if the Democratic Party is ever going to rally the American people to stand up to Trump and preserve democracy.

The Cowardly Lion is a character in the Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum. In the 1890s when he wrote the book, Baum was a populist and socialist opposed to the power of Wall Street and industrial robber barons. In the book, the Cowardly Lion represents William Jennings Bryan, the Democratic Party nominee for President in 1896, 1900, and 1908, a candidate with out the courage of his convictions who was destined to repeatedly lose. Chuck Schumer is a 21st century Bryan, maybe even worse, and he has got to go.

In the email, Chuck wrote “Mrs. DeVos’s qualifications and beliefs regarding American public education seriously put into question her ability to lead the Department of Education.” But as you read down you realize, Senator Chuck does not actually oppose much of what she champions, which makes it difficult to stop her and her Republican colleagues from destroying public education in the United States.

“As you are aware, Mrs. DeVos’s ideological preference for voucher programs without the necessary oversight would have serious implications for the strength of our public schools . . . When Detroit school advocates pushed for the formation of a commission to better coordinate the creation of charter schools with the needs and resources of local public schools, Betsy DeVos and her family spent $1.45 million to successfully oppose the commission altogether.”

Chuck does not oppose vouchers that would transfer public funds to private and religious schools. Chuck does not oppose the creation of charter schools to replace public schools. Chuck only wants “stronger oversight” of vouchers and charters. The Cowardly Lion was so cowardly he never spells out where he stands on public education.

Although President Tweet mocks him as “Fake Tears Chuck,” Schumer’s official position still remains that Democrats can work with Trump on areas where the President has stated “progressive and populist opinions.”

Which areas does Schumer mean? Trumps appointment of unqualified and dangerous people to key government positions, his erratic and belligerent foreign policy pronouncements, his plan to shift the Supreme Court to the far right, his attacks on public education, his pledge to decimate environmental protections, his threats to immigrants and Muslims, or his promise to deregulate banks, financial institutions, and industry.

Chuck Schumer has been duplicitous and cowardly for a long time. Schumer and I live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood and we have had a series of public tussles starting with his support for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Chuck took great offense when I asked him if his daughters would enlist to fight in the wars he was promoting, or was that just for other people’s children?

Problems with Chuck go much deeper. One of his major funding sources is Wall Street, over $3 million for his 2016 reelection campaign, and he has represented the power brokers well. In 1999 he voted to repeal the depression era Glass-Steagall Act that regulated financial institutions. When that contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown, Senator Wall Street pushed for a bailout.

Chuck also voted for the 2001 Patriot Act and the 1995 Omnibus Counter Terrorism Act. As recently as 2010 he called the Patriots Act “balanced and reasonable.” In Senate hearings he endorsed torture. According to Schumer “it’s easy to sit back in the armchair and say that torture can never be used. But when you’re in the foxhole, it’s a very different deal.” According to Chuck, most members of the Senate would say “do what you have to do.”

Right now Israel is a very contentious issue as President Trump seems to have abandoned support for a Palestinian state and given Israel a free hand in expanding settlements on Palestinian lands. As a Senator, Schumer has been one of Israel and its ring-wing Prime Ministers biggest supporters. In 2015 he sided with Netanyahu in his opposition to President Obama’s efforts to regularize relationships with Iran and reach an agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear capacity. In December 2016, he blasted Secretary of State John Kerry and opposed President Obama when protested against an Israeli land grab in occupied Palestinian territories. Chuck charged Kerry had “emboldened extremists.”

How can Chuck stand up to Trump when in 2006 he voted yes to build a fence along the United States-Mexican border?

Chuck Schumer is not the person to lead Democratic Party opposition to Donald Trump. On issue after issue, he is a cowardly lion afraid to take a stand and beholden to his financial backers. Chuck must go!

PS: I would love to hear Chuck Schumer’s response.

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