Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive!
CounterPunch’s website is one of the last common spaces on the Internet. We are supported almost entirely by the subscribers to the print edition of our magazine and by one-out-of-every-1000 readers of the site.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Chuck Schumer Speaks to the Graduates

by ALAN SINGER

The good news is that after ten years in office and thousands of commencement addresses, United States Senator Charles “Chuck” Schumer, ostensibly a Democrat from New York, has changed his standard speech. Students were becoming afraid to go on for advanced degrees, knowing that Senator Chuck would show up at graduation uninvited, grab the microphone, and start telling them once again how as a young man he chose the girl over the scholarship. Parents were probably starting to complain as well. As a college faculty member, I estimate I was forced to sit through the speech twenty times.

The bad news is that his new speech is at least as bad as his old one. It the past he was vapid and insipid. Now he has moved on to the insulting.

For Senator Chuck, third-ranking Democrat in the Senate and head of the Democratic Senatorial campaign committee, there was a lot he could have talked about at commencement exercises this year. It is a presidential election year and the Democrats are involved in a historic, heated, and perhaps fratricidal nominating process. The Democrats hope to win the White House and expand on its narrow control over the Senate (which is Schumer’s party responsibility). The nation has been at war in Iraq since 2003 and Afghanistan since 2001, with no end in sight, and little clarity about what the end will look like. The economy is in recession, the planet is warming, the housing market has collapsed, unemployment is creeping up, and on the way to the graduation ceremony students and their families paid over four dollars a gallon to fill up their SUVs. None of these issues were addressed in Schumer’s speech.

Senator Chuck started out with a bit of grandiosity, declaring that he personally “passed the law to allow you to deduct college tuition on your federal income tax.” Next he described how proud he was when his daughter graduated from college and told the graduates how she, and they, were part of a new generation that was fluent in the new technology and that it was “in your blood stream.” He neglected to mention that his daughters attended Harvard, as had he, not one of the state schools or local colleges where he speaks.

Schumer’s main advice was that the new graduates, instead of settling for just any job, should try to find something that they really like to do. He remembered how his father hated being an exterminator, and that at the age of fourteen, while working on a summer job, he promised himself that he would only do the type of job that he likes. That is why after attending Harvard College and Harvard Law School, he went into politics instead of a prestigious law firm.

Senator Chuck seemed oblivious to the fact that few, if any, in the audience have his, or his daughters’, options. Many of my students, who plan to become social studies teachers, are tens of thousands of dollars in debt because of student loans, face steep competition for any teaching position in an oversaturated market, and have little prospect of buying a home in or near the communities where they were raised and their families still live. These young people worked hard, did everything that was expected of them, and now must pay for the malfeasance and incompetence of Schumer and the nation’s other political leaders.

Senators Clinton and Obama promise to be agents of change if they secure the White House. If Senator Chuck Schumer is an example of what the Democrats have to offer, we can expect very little real change from this party.

ALAN SINGER teaches at Hofstra University. He can be reached at: CATAJS@Hofstra.edu

 

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
David Swanson
Turn the Pentagon into a Hospital
Ralph Nader
Are You Ready for Democracy?
Chris Martenson
Hell to Pay
Frank X Murphy
Power & Struggle: the Detroit Literacy Case
Chris Knight
The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”
Weekend Edition
September 23, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
The Meaning of the Trump Surge
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: More Pricks Than Kicks
Mike Whitney
Oh, Say Can You See the Carnage? Why Stand for a Country That Can Gun You Down in Cold Blood?
Chris Welzenbach
The Diminution of Chris Hayes
Vincent Emanuele
The Riots Will Continue
Rob Urie
A Scam Too Far
Pepe Escobar
Les Deplorables
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes, Obfuscation and Propaganda in Syria
Timothy Braatz
The Quarterback and the Propaganda
Sheldon Richman
Obama Rewards Israel’s Bad Behavior
Libby Lunstrum - Patrick Bond
Militarizing Game Parks and Marketing Wildlife are Unsustainable Strategies
Andy Thayer
More Cops Will Worsen, Not Help, Chicago’s Violence Problem
Louis Yako
Can Westerners Help Refugees from War-torn Countries?
David Rosen
Rudy Giuliani & Trump’s Possible Cabinet
Joyce Nelson
TISA and the Privatization of Public Services
Pete Dolack
Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation
Franklin Lamb
34 Years After the Sabra-Shatila Massacre
Cesar Chelala
How One Man Held off Nuclear War
Norman Pollack
Sovereign Immunity, War Crimes, and Compensation to 9/11 Families
Lamont Lilly
Standing Rock Stakes Claim for Sovereignty: Eyewitness Report From North Dakota
Barbara G. Ellis
A Sandernista Priority: Push Bernie’s Planks!
Hiroyuki Hamada
How Do We Dream the Dream of Peace Together?
Russell Mokhiber
From Rags and Robes to Speedos and Thongs: Why Trump is Crushing Clinton in WV
Julian Vigo
Living La Vida Loca
Aidan O'Brien
Where is Europe’s Duterte? 
Abel Cohen
Russia’s Improbable Role in Everything
Ron Jacobs
A Change Has Gotta’ Come
Uri Avnery
Shimon Peres and the Saga of Sisyphus
Graham Peebles
Ethiopian’s Crying out for Freedom and Justice
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail