Happy Day-Before-Decoration Day, all. Hopefully those of you recently anointed with a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate are too busy avoiding goodbyes (from the awkward anticlimaxes to the drunken and dramatic) to read this post in a timely manner. As for the rest of you…
Wesleying – which has always aspired to be a forum for student voices, controversial and not – presents you with some thoughts on Commencement speaker Michael Bennet ’87 and his record as a Democratic U.S. Senator from Colorado, written by Dan Fischer ‘11.5. (If you’re looking for the full roundup, rest easy – it’s on the way.) Readers might find Dan’s observations interesting, especially in light of Bennet’s comments on the domination of narrow interests in Washington and the need for “disruptive” and “transformative” change in politics and education (click here for a transcript of Bennet’s speech). Feel free to put out your own thoughts in the comments, or in chalk in front of Obama Hill. Without further ado:
Today, Senator Michael Bennet delivered the commencement address. Roth describes him as “a pragmatic and independent thinker who embodies the values of the western state he represents, and whose work has contributed to good in the world”. I decided to do a little research and found that Bennet, as you would expect of a U.S. Senator, has also contributed to a lot of war-mongering, neoliberalization and power-concentration in the world.
Senator Bennet has shown a strong commitment, for instance, to dismantling civil liberties. He voted to extend the Patriot Act, and he voted for the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which among other things authorized indefinite detention. He co-sponsored the “anti-piracy” bill PIPA, which the Electronic Frontier Foundation says would punish millions of innocent Internet users and grant service providers immunity for unlawful censorship.
He has repeatedly voted to promote“free trade,” including the Free Trade Agreement with Korea, Trade Promotion Agreement with Colombia, and Trade Promotion Agreement with Panama. Bennet voted to deploy National Guard troops on the Mexican border, voted for increased sanctions on Iran, voted against U.S. consideration of the Goldstone Report, and voted against auditing the Federal Reserve. From his 2010 campaign to now, Bennet has received $1,510,894 from business PACs and $1,126,674 from Securities & Investment industry donations. He opposes the Employee Free Choice Act, and critics have accused his education “reform” policy of containing anti-union elements, such as support for charter schools and Teach for America.
Bennet has not denounced his former employer Mayor John Hickenlooper’s violent crackdown on Occupy Denver, which included use of chemical weapons such as pepper spray and pepper balls, firing of dangerous projectiles into crowds, mass arrests and destruction of peoples’ possessions. Bennet did, however, allow unanimous Senate approval of a bill enhancing criminalization of protests at events with Secret Service. This legislation was signed into law by Obama in March and will affect, for example, people protesting Supreme Court Justice Scalia.
What do you think? I’m a little embarrassed that Wesleyan couldn’t find someone who was, well, less of a politician. I guess better him than Scalia again?
Note: Dan wrote this on Saturday, but I slacked on posting it in a timely manner, so a couple of the introductory words were changed to reflect the new temporal relationship between these comments and Commencement.