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:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

July 24, 2017
Patrick Cockburn
A Shameful Silence: Where is the Outrage Over the Slaughter of Civilians in Mosul?
Robert Hunziker
Extremely Nasty Climate Wake-Up
Ron Jacobs
Dylan and Woody: Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad
Dan Glazebrook
Quantitative Easing: the Most Opaque Transfer of Wealth in History
Ellen Brown
Saving Illinois: Getting More Bang for the State’s Bucks
Richard Hardigan
The Media is Misleading the Public on the Al-Asqa Mosque Situation
Matthew Stevenson
Travels in Trump’s America: Memphis, Little Rock, Fayetteville and Bentonville
Ruth Fowler
Fire at Greenfell
Ezra Kronfeld
The Rights of Sex Workers: Where is the Movement to Legalize Prostitution
Mark Weisbrot
What Venezuela Needs: Negotiation Not Regime Change
Binoy Kampmark
From Spicy to the Mooch: A Farewell to Sean Spicer
Wim Laven
Progress Report, Donald Trump: Failing
Weekend Edition
July 21, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Kevin Zeese
Green Party Growing Pains; Our Own Crisis of Democracy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Red State, Blue State; Green State, Deep State
Paul Street
“Inclusive Capitalism,” Nancy Pelosi, and the Dying Planet
Anthony DiMaggio
Higher Education Fallacies: What’s Behind Rising Conservative Distrust of Learning?
Andrew Levine
Why Republicans Won’t Dump Trump Anytime Soon
Michael Colby
Ben & Jerry’s Has No Clothes
Bruce Dixon
White Liberal Guilt, Black Opportunism and the Green Party
Edward Hunt
Killing Civilians in Iraq and Syria
Matthew Kovac
Is the Flint Water Crisis a Crime Against Humanity?
Mark Harris
The Revolutionary Imagination: Rosa for Our Times
David Rosen
America’s Five Sex Panics
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia: the Kingdom Whose Name We Dare Not Speak At All
Jack Heyman
Class War on the Waterfront: Longshore Workers Under Attack
Kim C. Domenico
Marginalize This:  Turning the Tables on Neoliberal Triumphalism
Brian Cloughley
Trying to Negotiate With the United States
John Laforge
Activists Challenge US Nukes in Germany; Occupy Bunker Deep Inside Nuclear Weapons Base
Jonathan Latham
The Biotech Industry is Taking Over the Regulation of GMOs From the Inside
Russell Mokhiber
DC Disciplinary Counsel Hamilton Fox Won’t Let Whistleblower Lawyer Lynne Bernabei Go
Ramzy Baroud
The Story Behind the Jerusalem Attack: How Trump and Netanyahu Pushed Palestinians to A Corner
Farzana Versey
The Murder of Muslims
Kathy Kelly
At Every Door
David W. Pear
Venezuela Under Siege by U.S. Empire
Maria Paez Victor
Venezuelan Opposition Now Opposes the People
Uri Avnery
Soros’ Sorrows
Joseph Natoli
The Mythos Meme of Choice
Clark T. Scott
High Confidence and Low Methods
Missy Comley Beattie
Glioblastoma As Metaphor
Ann Garrison
Organizing Pennsylvania’s 197: Cheri Honkala on Frontline Communities
Ted Rall
What Happened When I Represented Myself as My Own Lawyer
Colin Todhunter
Codex Alimentarius and Monsanto’s Toxic Relations
Graham Peebles
Europe’s Shameful Refugee Policy
Louis Proyect
Reversals of Imperial Fortune: From the Comanche to Vietnam
Stephen Cooper
Gov. Kasich: “Amazing Grace” Starts With You! 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail