Ed Driscoll

Bringing Reality Back to an Ivy League-Suffocated Government

“Scott Walker’s national education effect” is explored by Glenn Reynolds in his latest USA Today column:

Though Walker attended Marquette University, he left before graduating, which has caused some finger-wagging from the usual journalistic suspects. After all, they seem to believe, everyone they know has a college degree, so it must be essential to getting ahead. As the successful governor of an important state, you’d think that Walker’s subsequent career would make his college degree irrelevant, but you’d be wrong.

And that’s why a President Walker would accomplish something worthwhile the moment he took office. Over the past few years in America, a college degree has become something valued more as a class signifier than as a source of useful knowledge. When Democratic spokesman Howard Dean (who himself was born into wealth) suggested that Walker’s lack of a degree made him unsuitable for the White House, what he really meant was that Walker is “not our kind, dear” — lacking the credential that many elite Americans today regard as essential to respectable status.

Of course, some of our greatest presidents, from George Washington to Abraham Lincoln to Harry S. Truman, never graduated from college. But the college degree as class-signifier is, as I note in my book, The New School, a rather recent phenomenon. As late as the 1970s, it was perfectly respectable for middle-class, and even upper-middle-class, people to lack a college degree. And, of course, most non-elite Americans still do: 68% of Americans, like Scott Walker, lack a college diploma. But where 50 years or 100 years ago they might not have cared, many now feel inferior to those who possess a degree.

Or to put it another way:

Walker is certainly driving all of the right left people utterly insane; the Times has had to quietly correct both of their goofball hits on Walker this month: