Friday, December 10, 2004


LA Times Giving Ink to Idiots

Why Academia Shuns Republicans: "The main causes of the partisan disparity on campus have little to do with anything so nefarious as discrimination. First, Republicans don't particularly want to be professors. To go into academia � a highly competitive field that does not offer great riches � you have to believe that living the life of the mind is more valuable than making a Wall Street salary. On most issues that offer a choice between having more money in your pocket and having something else � a cleaner environment, universal health insurance, etc. � conservatives tend to prefer the money and liberals tend to prefer the something else. It's not so surprising that the same thinking would extend to career choices.
Second, professors don't particularly want to be Republicans. In recent years, and especially under George W. Bush, Republicans have cultivated anti-intellectualism. Remember how Bush in 2000 ridiculed Al Gore for using all them big numbers?"

Jonathan Chait wants us all to think that because professors are well educated and liberal that they must be smarter than all of those stupid Republicans. I keep trying to remind my liberal friends that snobbery like that is part of the reason their party is going to be writing about policy and not developing it.
Jonathan is, however, on to something very important as he dicusses the reasons people choose professions. As Larry Kudlow would say, this is a topic I know a little something about. People that choose professions like education, journalism, sociology, psychology, and others, choose those professions because they were brought up to believe that they had the ability to change the world. If they tried real hard, column by column or student by student, they could make a difference. Conservatives, on the other hand, were raised to be practical. Their parents told them to pick a practical profession, not art or acting, but rather one where they could make a good living and provide for their families. They, likely, like my family, went on evening rides through nice neighborhoods coveting the big, beautiful houses.
Good educations and success in business are not things to be taken lightly, just as the choice to educate or entertain should not. The fallacy, it seems to me, is that the choice to educate or be a nurse, etc. is somehow selfless. While the person who chooses this path may not make as much money, they choose it for similarly selfish reasons. Candidly, they choose it because it makes them feel good, and often feel superior. It is the same fallacy I see in much philanthropy. People do not choose to donate time and money for no reason. There is always a level of self-love (as Adam Smith would say) to these kinds of actions. I often joke that the only philanthropy I will be involved in when I am wealthy enough, are the events that feed you. As a teenager, I worked at country clubs and watched rich folk eat and drink until they burst. That's the life.
Chait also wants people to believe that conservatives do not value intellect. It couldn't be further from the truth. We enjoy both straight talking Americans and intellectuals, especially when the two come in one package. The idea that the majority of the Republican party feels it has compromised on intellect is really silly. Jimmy Carter was no MENSA and he is a huge liberal hero. Michael Moore can't find his way out of a paper bag, and yet Senators were lining up at the opening of his movie. Hollywood is full of idiots, but they are paraded on political talk shows as if they have something brilliant to add on current foreign policy. So, "living the life of the mind" is done by thinkers of both parties.

On certain aspects of your blog, I do agree. Liberals will not be able to win any hearts by exclaiming intellectual superiority to those with whom they have disagreements. Also, I agree that there is no such thing as true altruism. There is always some sense of secondary gain from these actions.

However, from here, I diverge from your point of view. I think that academia has seen some of the most influential members come from the neoconservative front. Look at the school of thought pushed from the University of Chicago featuring Leo Strauss, which has produced Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and others. It is currently the academic philosophy of this group of people that appear to be leading Bush's foreign policy by the nose regarding its extremely hawkish approach to leaders with stances inconvenient to those of the US financial best interests. Ergo, we enter into "preventative wars" with pre-emptive strikes. One can't label academia as purely liberal, as we see the poison of Strauss affecting our current international agenda.

Regarding your stance on altruism and philanthropy, I can see that you are really a cranky, selfish, self-centered, egocentric bastard. I agree that there is no such thing as altruism. However, it is goodwill for others that educated you in whatever school you entered, provided care to those people close to you and perhaps yourself, protected you as the law enforcement ensures your personal and financial safety, your religious leader witnesses to you to save your soul, etc. Yes, they have some secondary gain, but there is definitely greater societal worth that is made from the efforts of these people that that from someone who is looking to see solely where he or she may make their bucks, regardless of who gets hurt in the process, so that they can live up to the dream that they have been mentally masturbating about since their childhood. To pass judgment upon those people that have some recognition of the world outside of themselves and that they do not live in a vaccuum is insulting to say the least.

Finally, although conservatives may value intellectualism, there is good argument that the conservative establishment doesn't want it. Currently, the GOP controls both Senate and House, as well as the presidency. As we saw from exit polling, people made whatever decision on their votes based upon "moral values". Where do these "moral values" come from? The large group of evangelicals would likely state the Church as their source. The Church's main weapon for control of people is the threat of the afterlife. Bending people's wills is easy when you control such an intangible but powerful weapon. The conservative Right has been courting this group for a long time, and relies strongly on its continued support.

One would argue that lack of attention to the facts also has kept the support for the war going. Continued spreading of facts that were known to be false by the president precipitated a belief by the populace that there was some connection between SH and bin Laden. Fear that there would be further attacks stymied reality even as we found out more and more information regarding the lack of truth in what the current administration was telling us. The trumpet of fear has been repeatedly sounded in order to influence the populace to continue its support of the war efforts.

Although individual conservatives appreciate intellectulism, there is no desire for universal independent thought from the conservative machine as it would erode the base of support for its end goals.

Finally finally, anyone who is influenced by Hollywood in its voting really doesn't have a firm grasp on the issues at hand. Although those people try to be socially conscious, they are in no way a good representation of what the general population should believe in. In fact, if it were solely based upon the bottom line, they would all be voting for Republicans as they would make out better from investments as the market goes up. Why is it that the people who can't afford to vote Republican do vote that way?
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