News & Politics

College Classism, Progressives, and the 2016 Election

They consider every sentence they utter unmatched pearls of wisdom. They exude arrogance through every pore of their bodies. They confuse their bath water for champagne.

Am I talking about the rich? No, not entirely. University professors? Yes, they’re included. Rather, in general, I’m talking about liberals—progressives if you wish. Saying progressives are snobbish in how they view others is being too kind. Instead, how progressives view themselves in relation to everyone else is classic classism.

Classism exhibited itself throughout this past year’s presidential campaign in several ways, with the single most famous incident being Hillary Clinton’s reference to Trump supporters as “deplorables.” The fancy term for what she did is “parapraxis,” but most know it as a Freudian slip; she said it because she subconsciously meant it. And her progressive supporters consciously cheered because they believed it.

Another example of progressive classism is the use of college status as a criterion for class membership. The college education card makes for a great political sound bite and was used extensively during the past election year. It started with reports on college students breaking for Bernie Sanders, then Clinton had college educated women breaking for her. After the primaries, the media just kept talking about how college educated voters supported Clinton and non-college educated voters supported…you know, that rich, racist, misogynistic, homophobic guy.

The implication is, of course, that smart people go to college, college graduates vote progressive, therefore smart people vote progressive. Be smart, vote progressive.

An example of how college classism is used against candidates is the progressive attack on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. Walker didn’t finish college; quitting after three years. The Democrats used that as justification why Walker shouldn’t be governor and was unfit to be president. One of many leading Democrats who put forth this argument was former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean. In addressing this topic, Dean called Walker “unknowledgeable” because he didn’t graduate from college.

We can also go back to when George W. Bush ran for president and the left leaked numerous reports of Bush’s weak academic performance. The point was not necessarily that Bush had average grades, by definition most people do, but that he was unfit to be president because he was not smart enough based on his college performance.

Although many on the left recognize the political dangers of using college education as a type of class membership test, the progressive class can’t escape from its elitist genetic code. So an attempt similar to the Bush case was tried against Trump. Trump attended several colleges, eventually getting a degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania. That didn’t stop attempted attacks on Trump’s intelligence by examining his grades and his overall academic life. Unfortunately for the left, although reports claimed Trump was not a serious student, he did have respectable grades.

How Trump, Bush, and Walker were treated needs to be compared to how the left loved boasting of President Obama’s law degree and distinguished academic career as a constitutional scholar. Ditto for Hillary. Although both were light in actual academic accomplishments compared to many others, the media painted Obama as the most intelligent man in the world and Hillary as the most intelligent woman in the world.

Ironically, after the 2016 presidential election results came in, it was found that a number of college educated voters did vote for Trump. Therefore, in marginalizing Trump and his supporters, progressives had to further subdivide the college educated class into those that just went to college and got a degree and the true intelligentsia. The latter group includes Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, the prominent media people, distinguished academics, and others who think like them. And to progressives, thinking like they do is a sure sign of high intelligence; just ask them.

But this general elevation of people with degrees into a class separate from those that don’t have degrees puts the Democrats in a precarious situation. The Democrat Party claims to be the party of the average working person, many of whom do not have college degrees. Yet, the party of Jackson, Roosevelt, and Truman has become more a party of Wilson, Clinton, and Obama; that is, a party of Limousine Liberals.

There is an interesting story concerning the original Mercury astronauts that is somewhat applicable here. One requirement for astronauts in the early space program was a college degree in a technical discipline. According to Tom Wolfe, author of The Right Stuff, Chuck Yeager, one of America’s greatest test pilots, was not selected by NASA because he lacked a college education. In essence, regardless of his heroic combat record, flying time in numerous test aircraft, and being the first to break the sound barrier, Yeager just didn’t have the “right stuff.”

The Mercury astronauts were some of the best combat and test pilots in the world. They had a natural gift for flying. Their abilities went beyond their flight training; it was a natural gift. Therefore, it is inconceivable that Yeager would have performed any less well than those chosen. But NASA was looking for more than just top tier pilots; it was looking for a manufactured Cold War image. (Interestingly, John Glenn did not have a degree at the time of selection, but completed the requirements a few years later.)

“Image” is the key word in the last paragraph. There are a number of professions for which a college degree is a legitimate requirement. However, the idea that a typical person needs a college education to prove his or her intelligence or as an image enhancer to guarantee success in life is the brainchild of the education industry, which is an arm of the Democrat Party. It borders on a protection racket. Like business owners who pay for special protection in order to prevent their businesses from becoming victims of “unexplainable consequences.” The protection providers comfort the owners by saying, “And we would hate for that to happen, wouldn’t we?”

To argue that a college degree is a deciding factor for success ignores the dismal performance of so many people with fancy letters after their names. In reality, many people are too talented and too intelligent to waste years seeking a useless degree that trains them for nothing and leaves them in debt, unemployed, and living in their parents’ basement. I understand the reality of a poor economy, but when government finds it necessary to make it easier for twenty-somethings to live off their parents, that’s not a victory, that’s a failure.

In closing, let’s not forget the advice the wizard gave the scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz regarding the difference between him and people who claim to have a brain, “They have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma.” Whether the wizard was saying the scarecrow was as smart as people with diplomas or that people with diplomas were often as dumb as scarecrows is left to the imagination.