Businessman Donald Trump has gained an incredibly loyal following attracted to his putative outsider status. Significant numbers of education activists are happy, because he has frequently said, “Common Core is a disaster” and that we need to “make education local” — ostensibly by getting rid of the U.S. Department of Education — and has given the impression that the federal government should not be involved in education. For parents who have been fighting the horrific overreach of the US DOE in both No Child Left Behind and now ESSA, these statements have given people hope.
However, Trump added to his long string of contradictions and dizzyingly rapid position changes during last Tuesday’s presidential town hall on CNN. A combat veteran asked, “In your opinion, what are the top three functions of the United States government?” The tycoon responded that after security, the top functions of the federal government were education and health care. He then added housing. Here is the video of the exchange:
As is his pattern when questioned, Trump tried to walk his statement on education back a moment later, which turned into this steaming pile of incoherence:
ANDERSON COOPER: Aren’t you against the federal government’s involvement in education? Don’t you want it to devolve to states?
DONALD TRUMP: I want it to go to state, yes. Absolutely. I want – right now…
But then when Cooper followed up again:
COOPER: So that’s not part of what the federal government’s —
TRUMP: The federal government, but the concept of the country is the concept that we have to have education within the country, and we have to get rid of Common Core, and it should be brought to the state level.
Despite this, as with his idea to expand libel laws to go after journalists that say negative things about him, Mr. Trump again displayed his frightening lack of constitutional understanding. Obviously, government control of education, healthcare and housing are exactly the big government establishment solutions parents fighting Common Core and Fed Ed, conservatives, and Republicans all oppose. That philosophy is much closer to the positions of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on all three.
Perhaps that is why Daniel Horowitz at Conservative Review said the following in his article titled, “Is Trump Running to Make Socialism Great Again?“:
And by the way, the real answer to that gentleman’s question about the core function of government should have been….to secure the blessings of liberty and prevent both domestic and foreign enemies from infringing upon those liberties. For example, the tyranny imposed by states on religious liberty, the court system, or civil unrest. Sadly, liberty is the one word never mentioned in this man’s stump speech. And when religious liberty was brought up at the final Fox News debate, Trump said, ‘I have nothing to say.’
…[H]ow can you make deals if you change or contradict your views within the same sentence or don’t even realize when you are publicly championing the other side’s starting point for negotiations?
For parents who have been fighting the battles against the Common Core — and who have been bringing to light how those horrific standards are being used to psychologically manipulate, data mine and track their children into careers based on invasive, experimental tests that parents can never see, all based on federal law and policy — Trump’s statements are confusing and terribly disappointing. The federal government should have no role in education. And Donald Trump’s lack of constitutional understanding, incoherence and rapid position shifts on this and many other issues should raise enormous red flags.