Betsy Devos, Charmer or Operator?

For political watchers, 2017 has been an example of “curiouser and curiouser,” as the Trump administration moves along on a bumpy and often chaotic course. One of the issues that has come up with the administration is Trump’s ongoing tendency to appoint heads of governmental departments who have little experience in the departments they are asked to lead. One of these department heads is Betsy Devos, who was appointed to lead the department of education (a department that has many top leadership positions sitting empty).


Ms. Devos is a conservative political activist from Michigan, where she served as a Republican Party chairwoman. In Michigan, Devos was known for her active support of school voucher that would allow students to attend charter schools, specifically church-oriented charters schools. Her support for vouchers has been controversial, however, as vouchers used in this context would seem to be in defiance of the separation of church and state, yet Devos, apparently, doesn’t see it that way.


The Two Faces of Devos


Another issue observers see in Devos is in her public face as a gracious and seemingly meek presence, who seems to support all of President Trump’s decisions. Actually, this persona would seem to be at odds with the Betsy Devos known to those she worked with her politically in Michigan. Those who knew her there found her to be a tough political operator who wouldn’t hesitate to use her influence as a wealthy person to get her way politically.


When Trump recently rescinded the Obama administration’s move to support transgender students’ right to use gender appropriate bathrooms, Devos said that the Obama administration’s move on the issue had been an example of governmental “overreach.” Privately, however, Devos is said to have met with a representative for transgender and gay employees in the education department, in advance of the announcement. Devos was apparently moving to warn the representative in advance of the Trump administration move, so that they could be prepared.


Obviously, there are many sides to Betsy Devos, and it will be interesting to see how she operates politically as her role in the Trump administration continues. Will she continue to support Trump’s every move, or will she assert herself as she did back in Michigan? Time will tell, as the Trump administration continues on its curious course.


Follow Betsy DeVos on twitter for updates.