The Not-So-Hidden Reason For Republicans’ Student Loan Anger

Student loan forgiveness was supposed to be a good thing. It would end debt for millions and help families drowning under massive payments. So why are some Republicans so mad?
President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
President Joe Biden speaks about student loan debt forgiveness in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022, in Washington, D.C.
Evan Vucci via Associated Press

Are you wondering why many Republicans are upset that President Joe Biden just canceled up to $20,000 in student loan debt for those who desperately need it? Well, you might be forgetting one of the major tenets of white supremacy. Let’s take a walk.

You see, before Trump, Republicans were considered the camp of the conservative Christian. Many still had their racist beliefs, but they were shrouded in policy and toned-down hate speech. Those who openly held such prejudiced racial views were considered outliers to the upstanding fiscally responsible right.

But there came a time when everything changed, and the party of “less federal government involvement” became the party of “big racism.” Veteran GOP strategist Stuart Stevens believes the tipping point was in 2015, “when Trump, then the leading Republican presidential candidate, called for a ban on Muslim travelers to the United States,” according to a 2020 interview with Mother Jones.

Stevens noted that if the Republican Party didn’t want to be associated with this racist, xenophobic, style of governing then, Reince Priebus, the then-chair of the Republican National Committee, “should have declared that the GOP did not support such bigotry and staked out a moral position.” Sure, Trump may have still won the election, but the GOP would’ve been on record as shunning this type of rhetoric. Instead, the party towed the line and kept its mouth shut.

Stevens argues that if the intrinsic, core values of the Republican Party weren’t racist, then how could they succumb so quickly to the racist values of Trump in just three or four years? What was once a taboo position to hold in the Grand Ole Party had now become the way.

I know what you’re thinking: What does any of this have to do with student loan forgiveness?

Well, one of the tenets of racism is that the white race ― simply based on skin color alone ― is the dominant race. Conveniently tied into racism is the idea of white supremacy, which also argues that the white race is the dominant race because of its fairer skin tone.

Yes, that was the early definition when things were simpler, and Black people didn’t want crazy stuff, like their freedom and voting rights and access to any water fountain they wished. White supremacy has evolved, though. It has morphed into two factions: One is systemic racism, where the system does the dirty work and becomes both the hand and the whip. The other is white tears. White tears are the hot, angst-filled, eye sweat of racists who can’t believe that poor people are being helped. White supremacy hates poor people. It loathes them. Just look at Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell. He’s one of the richest members of Congress with a net worth of $34 million, and that’s not counting the coins of his wife, economist Elaine Chao, who served on Trump’s cabinet. McConnell’s home state continuously shows up on the poorest states in America list. It ranked 6th this year.

Never forget that McConnell, along with the rest of his Senate Republicans, refused to vote for the American Rescue Plan, which, he often called, “widly out of proportion” despite the immediate relief to his constituents. Also, voting against the plan didn’t stop McConnell from bragging about the huge boon Kentuckians would receive.

“Not a single member of my party voted for it,” McConnell noted at an event in his home state, according to The Washington Post. “I didn’t vote for it. But you’re going to get a lot more money. Cities and counties in Kentucky are getting close to seven or $800 million. If you add up the total amount that’ll come into our state ― $4 billion ― that’s twice what we sent in last year.”

It would seem to anyone with a compass and a dictionary that maybe Mitch McConnell isn’t the answer to Kentucky’s poverty problem. He’s rich, while his constituents are poor, and more importantly, he’s fine with that, and shockingly so are Kentuckians. McConnell has spent every year in Congress since he was first voted in….in…wait for it…1984! And, unless he stops running for office, he will probably be there until he retires.

Here’s why, and yes, it’s the same reason that many Republicans are upset with student loan forgiveness: The other side of white dominance is cruelty. There is a collective camaraderie from those on the right in the suffering of those on the other side. For those Republicans who’ve been complaining, they understand the objective isn’t just to win, it’s to ensure that all other races lose. And I’m not talking running up the score, I’m talking slamming the ball on the 50-yard line and dancing. I’m talking about berating the cheerleaders and spray painting “Loser” on the team’s bus. It’s why Reps. Majorie Taylor Greene (Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.) couldn’t see the hypocrisy in the white tears they shed after learning that people who make less than $75,000 a year were going to receive some financial relief. Thankfully, the White House Twitter account was happy to call them out with several “this you?” tweets.

We mustn’t underestimate that a good portion of the white tears shed after Biden’s historic announcement also came from the jealousy of not being given another tax break. Because Republicans actually love welfare ― as long as it favors them. They enjoyed four years of handouts under Trump and never complained. Hell, why would they? They were winning.

“I don’t hear any of these Republicans squawking when we give massive tax breaks to billionaires,” Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), told George Stephanopoulos, on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday morning program.

“Suddenly when we do something for working people, it is a terrible idea,” he said.

But let’s not forget that two things can be true at the same time. Yes, Republicans are upset because America’s poor got a break that they didn’t, and yes, this is totally a political move, and I’m not mad at it. I’ve been waiting for a more aggressive and petty Democratic Party to emerge after four years of Republican domination, and I can’t lie, I like what I’m seeing. There is no playbook as to how to govern, and Republicans took off the white gloves of civility ages ago. It’s time that the Democratic Party stop fighting for the undecided moderate who doesn’t exist, and play to their base. It’s long been time for Democrats to abandon decorum and get into the mud with the rest of America. It’s time for the White House Twitter account to call out the hypocrisy of those who can’t stop whining about what they didn’t win. If this is the direction of the Democratic Party, throwing a possible $20,000 off the insurmountable monster that is student debt and Twitter-checking all of those who received Paycheck Protection Program loans and had them forgiven, then I’m here for it.

I think some of those people who are perplexed by the response of those who want student loan borrowers to struggle under the unforgiving weight of tremendous debt forget that one of the intrinsic tenets of white supremacy is that the other must suffer. It’s not so much that they win, it’s also that you lose. It’s why a majority of white voters voted against their own self-interest to elect Donald Trump. It’s why white women who have had abortions don’t want other women to have access to them. It’s why Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis is so popular ― he’s the wielder of the uneven wand.

Never forget that white tears are not the authentic cries from someone in pain, they are the incensed weeping of those who believe that they aren’t just supposed to win ― they are destined to. And it pains them to know that someone other than themselves might be receiving help.