The majority of what I write is satirical fiction. You would think that the headline “College is Bad for America, Say Majority of Republicans,” would be one of those satirical headlines. After all, how can college be bad for America? Even if you don’t like a particular subject, or a particular professor, isn’t it a bit ridiculous, you might think, to intimate that the majority of Republicans in this country think college is bad for us as a society?
But that’s precisely what Pew polling data released in 2017 showed.
— Chris Riotta (@chrisriotta) July 10, 2017
Amazingly, but really not surprisingly, the divide between Democrats and Republicans who believed that higher-education is good for us all started widening after the 2016 election.
Whereas 54 percent of Republicans said “colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country” in 2015, the majority now believe the opposite, with 58 percent saying such institutions negatively impact the state of the union. (Newsweek)
Why do I think it’s not surprising that around November of 2016 the gulf started widening on this subject? Because that widening gap presents a look into what’s been happening in the talk show sphere of America’s right-wing. People like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham 00 many more of them as well –have spent the better part of a few decades now trashing higher-education has nothing but bastions of “liberal indoctrination.”
The idea that facts and knowledge have a political bias is absurd. What someone chooses to believe with knowledge they’re given is different than facts themselves being biased. Imagine the outlook on life it takes to shun knowing things.
I envision those people are like Bob, in this short one act play I just wrote:
“Bob, can I tell you something?”
“No! I don’t want to know anything you have to tell me! What if it’s liberal propaganda!”
Bob walks out into the street and is hit by a bus.
“I was going to tell you the crosswalk is another hundred feet up the road, Bob.”
Many conservative politicians have joined the chorus of conservative pundits questioning the value of a university education.
“We don’t need the federal government to be involved in this, because when they do we create a $1.2 trillion debt,” former GOP candidate Jeb Bush said on making college education affordable for all Americans
The Pew polling also seems to throw a whole hell of a lot of cold water on the idea that “both sides are the same.” Particularly when it comes to valuing higher education.
The 21 percent increase in two years among Republicans is even more notable when compared with those who identify as Democrats—72 percent of whom say universities have a positive effect. That number has varied only a number of percentage points over the last few years.
Looking at these numbers, it’s pretty easy to see why there are people in this country who still firmly believe the science behind climate change is a “hoax.” Or why certain members of certain political parties want us to believe that abortion is literal baby murder instead of a medical procedure done usually when the fetus isn’t even capable of sentient, self-conscious thought, much less possessed of a fully developed brain and nervous system.
It’s also pretty easy to understand why, after looking at these numbers, that Donald Trump was elected. The man stares at eclipses to own the libs. He calls the Constitution an “arcane system” and questions the Constitutionality of using Constitutional amendments to remove him from power. But Trump’s self-evident stupidity aside, it would seem a pretty easy conclusion to draw that in order to believe that he is a good person who is qualified to be president that you’d have to be pretty uneducated and either willfully or unwittingly ignorant beyond all recognition.
Finally, it’s really easy to understand why, after looking at the poll numbers, Trump would tell people this:
College isn’t required to be intelligent. It’s not a prerequisite for having value to add to society, or for being smart. But college provides a great experience and opportunity for people of all ages to master subjects and have knowledge, which is far more valuable than any tax cut for a billionaire that will end up costing you more when you file this year.
It’s one thing to encourage people to seek alternative education sources, but it’s another to see absolutely no value in college whatsoever. Then again, I have to wonder if all the colleges in this country were like Liberty University, Trump University, or Clem’s Bible College and Shooting Range if the poll results wouldn’t look a hell of a lot different than they did.
I’ll leave it with this observation, however. Hannity and Limbaugh both don’t have college degrees. But Tucker Carlson does. Laura Ingraham does. Hell, even Donald Trump does. The idea that Republicans don’t go to college is false, but it makes me wonder why rank and file voting Republicans don’t consider someone like Trey Gowdy an elitist snob, unlike they do with Liz Warren.
I know there’s a word for that, but I just can’t place my finger on it.
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook and Instagram, but not Twitter because he has a potty mouth.