Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg has managed to stumble on one good idea while twiddling his thumbs behind his oversized desk in Pierre. Like Bernie Sanders, Ravnsborg believes in free college:
Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg today joined a group of 51 Attorneys General in urging the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) to automatically forgive the student loans of veterans who became totally and permanently disabled in connection with their military service.
…“As we approach this Memorial Day weekend, I cannot think of a better way to honor those who have sought to serve and protect us,” said Ravnsborg. “We all must manage our obligations, but these Disabled American Veterans have already paid a higher price for our freedom” [South Dakota Attorney General’s Office, press release, 2019.05.24].
Had Ravnsborg stopped at “I cannot think,” he’d have been speaking truth. But when he goes on to say that he can’t think of a better way to honor veterans than giving them free college, he demonstrates a lack of imagination, both on policy and accurate rhetorical flourish. Of the top of my head, can think of a variety of public policies—increased funding for VA hospitals, vigorous enforcement of ADA requirements, federal jobs programs to ensure full and rewarding employment for disabled veterans, permitting all willing and able Americans to serve, not pardoning war criminals—that would be at least as good a way of honoring veterans as student loan forgiveness. An expanded GI Bill or universal free tuition would be even better policy, since it would prevent any veterans from accumulating crushing student debt that later might need forgiving.
But I’m not asking Ravnsborg to make national policy (no one is, and no sensible voters ever will). I’m just asking him to choose his words thoughtfully. Instead of lurching into Trumpian hyperbole, why not just say that forgiving disabled veterans’ student loans is “a good way to honor their service” or “one of many way rewards veterans earn through their patriotic sacrifice”? (And don’t forget, Jason: Memorial Day is about honoring soldiers who died while serving; Veterans’ Day is the more appropriate holiday for invoking additional socialist assistance for veterans with student debt.)
Free college is fine, for veterans and other good Americans. But Jason Ravnsborg can’t even explain that simple point without sounding like a Trumpist boob.
Related Rhetorical Gluteal Automandibulation: Ravnsborg highlights the merits of automatic student loan forgiveness as a way to “eliminate unnecessary paperwork burdens.” I wholeheartedly agree with that assessment and eagerly anticipate Ravnsborg’s favorable explanation of the People Power Petitions when they make the 2020 ballot!