Betsy Devos and Her Two Sides

As the presidential contest rolled along last year, becoming more chaotic with each passing week, many election-watchers assumed that once the new president took over, things would generally “calm down” and political life would go back to “normal.” What’s happened, however, is that since the election, the situation has become ever more unpredictable.


One issue is in Trump’s habit of appointing governmental department heads who have little or no experience in the areas dealt with by their departments. Ms. Betsy Devos, who is a conservative political activist known for her support of government vouchers for use in religious charter schools, was appointed to head the education department last winter, yet she has had no experience running a public school, and her children did not attend a public school.


Transgender Bathrooms


The controversy over Ms. Devos has continued, but though many thought originally that, given her lack of experience, she would meekly follow the actions of President Trump and give him her full support, that hasn’t always actually been the case. One big issue that came up this year was Trump’s move to rescind the Obama administration’s bill that allows transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity. In public, Ms. Devos offered support for the action, and referred to the ruling by the Obama administration to be an example of governmental “overreach.” Privately, however, it is known that Ms. Devos actually met with a representative for gay and transgender people in the education department, with the goal of warning them in advance about the action Trump planned on taking.



All of this points to a disconnect between who Betsy Devos seems to be in public, where she is seen as a gracious person, and the reality of how she worked in conservative politics back in Michigan, where was a Republican Party Chairwoman. Those who knew her in Michigan state that she is a fierce political operator, and she has used her influence as a wealthy person to influence elections and block her foes as well.


Ms. Devos comes from a wealthy Michigan family herself, and with her marriage to Dick Devos, whose father was a founder of the Amway product company, she became a billionaire. How she will reconcile these two aspects of herself in her political life remain to be seen, as this unpredictable political time rolls along.


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