The MAGA Vendetta Against Arts And Education

Well, I see where Ron DeSantis has petulantly stripped thirty-two million dollars of art funding from the Florida budget.

Ron DeSantis stripped more than $32m in arts and culture funding from Florida’s state budget over his hatred of a popular fringe festival that he accused of being “a sexual event”, critics of the rightwing governor say.

DeSantis justified his unprecedented, wide-ranging veto of grants to almost 700 groups and organizations by saying it was “inappropriate” for $7,369 of state money to be allocated to Tampa fringe, a 10-day festival that took place earlier this month with a strong message of inclusivity, and its sister event in Orlando.

I talk a lot about culture war on this blog. Usually, that term connotes the growing willingness of MAGA Republicans to publicly indulge their bigotries against Blacks, women, LBGTQ+ citizens and non-fundamentalist Christians, but DeSantis’ recent fit of pique should remind us that the war against anything “woke” extends to important aspects of the actual culture: the arts, certainly, but also public education. (The GOP proclivity for “projection”–accusing others of their own behaviors–is obvious in their hysterical ranting about public education “indoctrination.”)

The most successful effort to replace American public education with religious indoctrination, of course, has come in the guise of “parental choice,” or vouchers, which allow public monies to be siphoned from the public schools and sent  disproportionately to religious schools. I have posted repeatedly about that effort, which has not only failed to improve test scores but has increased civic divisiveness and re-segregated the schools in several places.

I forget who first popularized the phrase “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” but if Trump should win in November, Project 2025 has outlined policies that would dramatically escalate the attack on public education.

Here are some of the elements of what I can only describe as an assault on steroids:

  • Title I, the $18 billion federal fund that supports low-income students, would disappear in a decade.
  • Federal special education funds would flow to school districts as block grants with no strings attached, or even to savings accounts for parents to use on private school or other education expenses.
  • The U.S. Department of Education would be eliminated.
  • The federal government’s ability to enforce civil rights laws in schools would be scaled back.

The proposals are contained in a comprehensive policy agenda that’s part of a Heritage Foundation-led initiative called Project 2025: Presidential Transition Project, which includes nearly 900 pages of detailed plans for virtually every corner of the federal government and a database of potential staffers for a conservative administration. It will also feature a playbook for the first 180 days of a new term.

Project 2025 was devised by several former Trump administration officials and allies, working with dozens of aligned advocacy organizations (misnamed “think tanks.”) including Moms for Liberty. You will recall that Moms for Liberty is the organization that fought school boards over COVID-19 safety protocols, advocates for censorship of books in school libraries, and endorses far-right school board candidates.

Trump has said that parents should elect school principals. He advocates the abolition of teacher tenure, has promised to cut federal funding to schools pushing “progressive” social ideas, and pledges to establish universal school choice.

Under the Project 2025 agenda, states would be able to opt out of federal education programs, whose “regulatory burden far exceeds the federal government’s less than 10 percent financing share of K–12 education,” the document asserts.

States would also have full authority to decide how to spend Title I funds, which currently go to schools with large populations of low-income students.

Under the Project 2025 plan, those funds would first flow to states as “no-strings-attached” block grants before they’re phased out in a decade. Parents of students attending Title I schools could even have access to the federal funds in “micro-education savings accounts” to pay for private education or supplemental services for their kids. The plan outlines similar ambitions for funds distributed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the nation’s special education law, though it doesn’t propose phasing them out.

The assault on public education has displayed the fundamental disconnect between the civic purposes of education and citizens who see education as just another private, consumer good–skills to be acquired (by those who can afford it) in order to enhance the ability of one’s children to succeed in the marketplace.

Access to the arts and a common base of educational knowledge both facilitate civic conversation and cohesion. Both enlarge our understanding of the world we inhabit–its complexity and, yes, its diversity. The arts and liberal education are the antithesis of rigid ideology and group-think.

I assume that’s why MAGA cannot tolerate either.


  1. “The most successful effort to replace American public education with religious indoctrination, of course, has come in the guise of “parental choice,” or vouchers, which allow public monies to be siphoned from the public schools and sent disproportionately to religious schools.”

    The term “guise” as used here should properly be changed to “lies” and it hasn’t been limited to robbing public education budgets. DeSantis’ “MAGA Vendetta…” is actually the Trump/MAGA campaign foundation; counting on the stupidity of voters with Trump’s mental level of being distracted by shiny objects and the loudest noise to attract attention.

    Their “Vendetta” regarding mathematical equation of age progression has been latched onto by Democrats who didn’t understand that electing Joe Biden to the presidency at 78 years of age would within the following year he would become 79 years of age, then 80 years of age and now 81 years of age. He has admitted he “screwed up” the “debate” (which never should have happened) yet, while ill, he answered all moderator’s questions and called Trump on his lies and distortions…not in his usual level of speaking. Was he to respond to the questions regarding saving democracy or was he to respond to Trump’s blatant lies which the moderators ignored and let stand as truths?

    I asked before and I ask again; how and why did Trump decide to demand the day before the debate that President Joe Biden be “drug tested” before the debate? Is there a leak in President Biden’s advisors and how was he advised to respond, did they know he was ill, was he on medication..or unprepared?

    I am well aware that my comments are off the issue today but the future of America and all Americans depends on this November 5th General Election; Florida can deal with DeSantis in their local elections…or not. Arts and Education are a national disaster and will only worsen if we lose at the presidential and down ballot elections. Changing a presidential presumptive nominee FOUR MONTHS prior to the General Election is an asinine decision, costing many millions of dollars, finding a nominee and finding supporters, losing what ground we have gained in the fight “for the soul of America” and for democracy, Rule of Law and upholding the Constitution of the United States of America. Republicans are ahead because they remain UNITED while disagreeing on issues and having no campaign foundation…we are a laughing stock in this nation and globally. Only WE can end it by uniting; IF we lose in November let it not be due to allowing MAGA supporters to scare us away from the fight to save America.

  2. Even Bill Maher is siding with those who are voting MAGA sighting the backlash is understandable. Drag queens in front of kids is crazy, an adult thing.
    Why use tax dollars for this is Desantis reason.
    We certainly want funding for the arts right?
    Parents are offended, some pulling their kids out of public schools and teachers are losing the professional ground tgey once had.

  3. Controlling what art is allowed is one of the fundamental tactics of authoritarian regimes, so it is not surprising that DeSantis took that action.
    What surprises me is how many people are simply unaware of Project 2025.

  4. DeSantis and most of the MAGA idiots are fetid clowns of hate, bigotry, fear and utter stupidity. The poor fools who have bought into this “woke” B.S. are an example of something that’s plagued humans forever: tribalism, fear of the unknown and aggression against anything not of their tribe.

    As one of my favorite authors, Rebecca Costa, has said – and I paraphrase – humans are using a 200,000 year old brain to deal with a huge social population by retaining those basic instincts from so long ago.

    And that fact will end up being our demise as a species if creatures like Trump, his court and the mindless masses have their way.

  5. Thanks, Gregg, for giving props to Bachman-Turner Overdrive (BTO)!

    JoAnn asked about drug testing JB. That came from his hyped performance at the SOTU address. Many speculated that he had been given a drug cocktail to boost his alertness and mental acuity. Those surrounding him are leaking info that his usual self is what we saw at the debate, and he’s very cranky. Dementia patients are like that because they can’t communicate properly – it’s frustrating. As for switching candidates, the DNC will do what donors want, and they want him replaced with Kamala.

    Being anti-woke is just a new KKK expression of racism. It’s a dog whistle. I explored the Fringe Festivals, and they sound fantastic. It originated in Scotland when some bands were excluded from mainstream venues. They played on the fringes anyway. It’s anything that goes open mic and is all about inclusion. I didn’t see anything about sex. The community partners are all local businesses that DeSantis is screwing.

    You would think that Florida, as a melting pot of diversity, would want nothing to do with all the MAGA characters in the state. Rumor has it that Marco Rubio may be DT’s Veep pick.

    While we destroy public education in the US, our so-called adversaries are kicking our asses in China. There are many reasons, but the bottom line is we need to catch up on the education battle, and with Project 2025, we will drop even further behind. The goal is to privatize education, such as health and the military. In both industries, we pay more for less – that’s the American Way!

    As a side note, Rishi Sunak was the first casualty in Europe this morning after the elections. There will be more! The Brits are hoping the Labour Party will get UK back on track. Please don’t count on it.

  6. If tfg gets back into office, our so-called arts programs will consist of beauty pageants for young women. They will have visits to their dressing rooms from the President, of course, showing his all out support for the “arts.”

  7. I have read, and agree with the proposition that DeStupid vetoed the funds because in the arts people use creativity, and thoughtfulness to sometimes express ideas that he might find distasteful, aka “woke.”
    “Woke” means rational and informed, the nightmare monsters of the MAGA crowd! The only things DeStupid wants people to be informed about are just those things that consist of the American myth of special wonderfulness.
    You know, Florida never had either the Rosewood or Ocoee massacres, has always been a haven for those miscolored brethren types who were happily taught useful skills.

  8. Mitch, Webster’s has changed the definition of “woke.” It now means:

    The new sense of ‘woke’ is gaining traction. It’s now defined in this dictionary as “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice),” and identified as U.S. slang.

    It came from the Black Lives Matter movement.'woke,and%20identified%20as%20U.S.%20slang.

  9. Everyone’s out of the closet. Gays and the KKK and the good ol’ boys and the criminals and the wealth redistribution uppers and the Nazis and the Proud Boys and the feminists and the masculinists and the entertainers. There is no tolerance. We fight until we resolve which one will subjugate all of the others.

    For the first time in life, it’s not about the survival of the species but about the individual.

    Dinosaurs showed us the end game. We didn’t learn.

  10. Multiple things are eating at the arts simultaneously:
    – Today’s subject
    – The continuous defunding of public school non-STEM/liberal arts programs
    – The more recent closing down of liberal arts degree programs at public universities
    – The post-Covid serious decreases in attendance at dance, drama, classical music programs and small museums. Many are struggling; some are closing.
    – Unraveling all the above is our hyper-digital culture of TikTok, YouTube, speed, violence, gore, dystopic, entertainment which our grandkids have been raised on and adore

  11. Pete,

    Technically, the dinosaurs weren’t in charge of their extinction. A rapid loss of habitat, food and environmental deterioration did that. BUT, socially, we are creating the same factor-driven environment for out extinction as a democratic republic. That said, the FACT that the world has proliferate nuclear weapons tells us that we’re very close to tickling the ultimate dragon’s tail. Certain religious zealotry will easily make that suicide pact with the world and rejoice as everything burns.

    Sorry for the doom and gloom, but what else do we talk about on this blog?

  12. Plus, a typical view–often by staunch neoliberals–is to see the education system as a training ground for their future workers (i.e. serfs), and definitely _not_ a place to develop critical thinking and analysis skills, nor to encounter diversity and inclusion ideas. The robber barons don’t want the beholden class to start having dangerous and problematic ideas.

  13. We are split between those of us who think that Joe Biden is:

    1. a Good or Excellent President – who had “a bad speech”
    2. a Not that Good President (often tied to either corporate interests and/or supporting The U.S. Empire – Settle Colonialism – who had a “horrible speech”

    as well as whether Biden:

    1. has dementia – or
    2. is “fine”

    On top of the issue of the great fears of a Trump Presidency and:

    1. The Presidency will be lost if Biden is the candidate
    2. The Presidency will be lost if Biden is Not the candidate

    The obvious fact that Biden – his family and advisors – and the Democratic Party establishment – have pinned themselves in this corner – over the past 4 years at least and each year since then increasingly so – is seemingly – excused.

    Kamala Harris – perhaps not the best VP choice – but she is – seemingly the potential Alternate choice unless: a Basic simple process is come upon soon to have some type of – “Super-Primaryish” choice mechanism – or the Dem’s leadership – builds consensus – or there is disaster for sure

    Joe Biden – needs – obviously – to “stabilize” his campaign – within the next 3-10 days – or there will be Zero Choice. It seems peculiar to me – that there was Not a MAJOR push – over recent days – with the Public! Biden – has largely been “behind the scenes” – not openly “Out Front” -which further makes many of us believe – he’s “lacking”. The Pushing by Jill and Hunter doesn’t help things at all.

    When one says: “We MUST have Joe Biden as the candidate” – You – are stuck – when “reality intervenes” – as it has been so far.

    The Dems – seem hellbent – on seizing Defeat – through mistake after mistake. I hope that they – and I do mean they – will figure out – quickly – a winning strategy.

    As of now – I’m not that hopeful, but it could shift quickly! Compromise – is obviously important. Communication – is obviously important!

    Telling a U.S. Public – things – that they aren’t believing – like: “The Economy is Great” (when for at least a significant minority it isn’t even close to ok) – isn’t going to cut it. Telling – Black Women – who elected Joe Biden in 2020 – that – they should “be patient” – is asking for many of them to Not Vote at all – in the Presidential race or vote for an alternate party/candidate, Telling – those of us who see Genocide in Gaza – and/or the “War Machine”/Profiteering – either related to Ukraine or even with Israel and/or see Racism and U.S. Empire – as being ignored – isn’t going to push – us and them – to vote for Joe Biden. Scaring – Playing on Fear – works – wonderfully for Donald Trump and the Republicans – it works HORRIBLY – for Joe Biden and the Democrats – right now! I both fear Donald Trump and fear Joe Biden – the fact that Trump is much worse – is irrelevant! Don’t listen to voices like Todd S – at your own peril!

  14. The speech Biden should have given yesterday (Washington Post Editorial Board):

    My Fellow Americans,

    Today, we celebrate not just the birth of our nation but the life it has lived.
    How have we lasted this long? How have we endured, grown, prospered? Our extraordinary framers were steered by a revolutionary premise: Our union would never be perfect. We would not be governed by an all-powerful king or sovereign. We would always be a work in progress as a nation and as individuals. Each generation would build on the efforts of its predecessors. This was essential for an enduring republic.

    The framers were shaped by hardship — they carried out a revolution at the edge of a wild frontier. They knew there are seasons to a life — and seasons of service. They knew, too, that relying on a single individual, a king, might create the illusion of strength but would be at its core fragile.

    Over the past few days, I have been reflecting on all this. My season of service is nearing its close. This was a hard truth to face. But it is the natural course of things — as evident as the progression from spring to summer, from fall to winter. This is why I have decided to withdraw from the campaign for president of the United States.

    This moment echoes one George Washington faced as he approached the end of his second term. Fear of instability and of the unknown, of who would come next, counseled against risking a premature departure. John Adams was pugnacious. Thomas Jefferson was radical. But Washington stood aside, though the Constitution at the time did not require it. He looked past ambition and self-regard to what the nation needed most at that moment, declaring through his actions that the United States would not depend on one indispensable man. Power would be transferred regularly and peacefully.

    A large part of me still wants to stay in the fight. But, at this moment, the nation needs something I cannot provide: a leader with the energy to run a vigorous campaign and then to work for America, at all hours, for the next four years.

    I’ve often spoken about how I began my career in public service as a senator at age 30. During this time, I have seen the end of the Cold War, the invention of the internet and more; in so many ways, unimaginable scientific and social breakthroughs have become real. I have also witnessed the sharpening of partisan divisions and the coarsening of our nation’s politics.

    These regrettable trends did not start with Donald Trump. But the former president has exploited and exacerbated them, encouraging Americans to diminish their fellow Americans, even to rise against our democracy, as they did on Jan. 6, 2021. Mr. Trump’s unique danger lies in his claim that only he can lead the nation. I will not make the same mistake. Nor will I do anything that would ease his return to power. Staying in the race could do just that.

    The question on American minds when Washington stepped aside was: What now? I owe Americans an answer to that question, too. The Democratic National Committee, senior Democratic leaders and I have agreed on an orderly process to select our next nominee, which will include debates between now and our convention in August. My vice president, Kamala Harris, has graciously and courageously agreed to participate. Though Democratic primary voters cannot be included at this late date, their delegates will make the final choice.

  15. George Marx,

    Please calm down. There will ALWAYS be a choice of merit if Trump is the opponent. You and I are better choices than Trump. Easy call. You left out one important view: Trump will undoubtedly pick the second worst human being on earth to be his vice-presidential candidate. Then, what if he, in fact, gets elected? Then, what happens if his arteries finally close from Big MAC-itis? We’d be left with an idiot who couldn’t lead a mouse to cheese. Enter the Federalist Society to come to the rescue of democracy, sanity, decency and everything but greed, money, power and more greed.

    You want to talk about choices? How are these scenarios playing out for you?

  16. The libertine capitalists having been working/funding to infiltrate local governments. schools and businesses across the nation for years. “Dark Money” Jane Mayer’s expose spells it out in detail; present day it has morphed/streamlined into Maga’s Project 2025 and has a stronghold in Republicans in Congress and the Supreme Court. Any idea that is critical of their current group efforts/beliefs is attacked and they fight with lies, gas lighting, and fear mongering. Only they are right, and everyone is expected to fall in line or else. We cannot allow them once again to have power of an unrestricted Potus behind them.

    Joe Biden is interviewed tonight one on one with George Stephanopoulos and probably will make clear his intentions. He has a lot of intel we don’t know about and is a good person who cares about the American people. Campaigning may be trying for him at his age and debate not his forte, but knowing what’s going on in the world and what a good course of action is, he has that.

  17. Based on my 2 years of teaching Jr. High math, 2 years of teaching high school math and chemistry, and 33 years of teaching math, engineering and business, I can tell you that taking the arts and culture out of education is a huge mistake. It is what motivates students and I use it to illustrate very dry and dull STEM material. I have never been so distressed in my life about the actions of the far right cult masquerading as Republicans and the actions of the supreme court.

  18. Question:
    What were the results of every other election in which the evident Democratic nominee bowed out?

    Not good.

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