Politics and Education

According to this, voters with postgraduate educations supported Obama by 58% versus 40% for McCain.

This article suggests that the election results can be characterized as “the triumph of the creative class,” with “creative class” drawn from “Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the younger, go-go set in the financial world.”

For discussion: what, if anything, should Republicans/conservatives/libertarians do to increase their appeal to these categories of voters?

Let me get things off to a contentious start by suggesting that the “creative class” tag is more than a little presumptuous. Is a stock trader really more creative than a production control specialist in a factory, or a platoon commander in the Marines? (Indeed, I’ve seen research suggesting that the cognitive skills of a good trader and a good combat commander have a lot of similarities.) Is a computer programmer automatically more creative than a mechanical engineer? Is it really true that spreadsheet mavens on Wall Street are more creative than small businesspeople? Is a professor of electrical engineering inherently more creative than a practitioner of the same field who works for a defense contractor?

Maybe “credentialed class” would be a more realistic descriptor than “creative class.”

What say you?

33 thoughts on “Politics and Education”

  1. I’m not saying this statistic isn’t significant and I don’t feel that conservatives should take the role of Presbyterians (of course we don’t want to convert others, our numbers have been going down for centuries, what difference does it make?). Ideas have consequences and good ideas have good consequences. And ideas in a democracy are spread when more of us agree.

    Nonetheless, such statistics are somewhat misleading. Remember that while only 10% of the undergrad degrees in America go to non-citizens, at least 33% of the grad degrees do. (I’m not sure what that means; obviously they wouldn’t be in this poll.)

    A large percentage of graduate degrees are in education – an area that has been more and more colonized by the left.

    Of course, grad students teach grad students and we are back to the old arguments about the seductive left in the cocoon of an ivory tower. A vision permeates that seems immune to facts (that some of my husband’s friends still seem to think a mark of their sensitivity is that they find communism attractive does demonstrate how immune these people are to ethics, common sense, human nature, history – and death of others).

    Anyway, this doesn’t speak to how to attract these people but it does throw some more perspective in. And there is some mild hope in the form of some rebellious undergrads and grads. How many, how big, I don’t know. If some are thrown into a world that is less certain and jobs that are less protected in the next few years, we may see an even more insistent demand for cradle to grave nets from them. On the other hand, hardness may produce toughness of mind. (And real, not fake, empathy and more respect for those who chose other paths.) Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be how the 30’s worked. (Anyone who has spent much time with forties and fifties literary criticism is struck my how pervasive Marxist interpretations were.)

  2. I think that it is a stretch to link “advanced degrees” to “creative.” As the earlier poster noted, an awful lot of masters and doctoral degrees go to public school teachers. Not to mention all the bureaucrats who pick up MPAs, etc.

  3. Heh, I generally call them credentialists, so yes, I agree with you.

    I think the cause and effect is wrong above though. I think it’s just that people who don’t agree with the progressivist ideas have very little use for a lot of university work, since it’s so full of it (pun intended). I managed to get my degree right before my university started requiring “multicultural” classes and so forth.

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  5. “Educated in what?” is the question. After all, I have no trouble believing that the vast number of people with advanced degrees earned in the Soviet Union would have support American left of center candidates before the fall of communism.

    I’ve seen breakdowns of education versus politics and it is only increases in education in the liberal-arts that leads someone to vote towards the left. Education in objective fields, science, engineering business leads to a more balanced voting pattern. Moreover, people left or right of center in those fields are closer to the political center.

    Educated people have historically always been drawn to the authoritarian “reformist” ideas of their day. Earning a credential itself breeds elitism. This makes the holders easy sells for the idea that a benevolent state, governed by the holders of course, can improve the lives of the less capable with or without their consent.

  6. The comments here all seem to sidestep the question or shift the focus onto semantics. So I’ll be straight: I’m a centrist independent with some post-grad education, and there is simply no way I am going to cast my vote for a political party or candidate who 1) ridicules scientific research (“Fruit flies — in Paris, France. I kid you not!” “Bear DNA LOL!”); 2) treats evolution and creationism/intelligent design as equally relevant theories; 3) considers intellect as “elitist.”

  7. Shannon Love – medicine, academic medicine anyway, tends to be left of center in orientation, particularly those areas dealing with public policy. Read any academic medical journal, or statements from President of the AAMC or the like, and you find that the questions that are posed make certain assumptions, and those assumptions are left of center.

  8. Anonymous,

    … there is simply no way I am going to cast my vote for a political party or candidate who 1) ridicules scientific research…

    Well at the extremes you get to choose between people of faith and tradition (which we survived) and people who believe whole heartedly in Marx and Freud. Leftist like to drape themselves in the cloak of science but they turn on it viscously when it conflicts with their own visions. As an experiment, suggest to someone on the 10% most left that perhaps since humans evolved due to natural selection that natural selection continues to influence us. Or ask them about the scientific basis that gender is “socially constructed”.

    (”Fruit flies — in Paris, France. I kid you not!” “Bear DNA LOL!”)

    You know the rest of us can hear your internal dialog, right?

    2) treats evolution and creationism/intelligent design as equally relevant theories;

    Leftist embrace evolutionary theory when it serves to undermine traditional moral sources but they reject all other applications of it. That makes them just as ignorant as creationist and hypocrites besides.

    3) considers intellect as “elitist.”

    A real educations leads to a keen awareness of how little we truly understand about the universe. A true intellectual says, “I know of somethings but little of most things.” A true intellectual is a specialist who devotes their life to the study of some tiny fragment of the immensity of human knowledge itself just a speck in vast universe.

    A faux intellectual is not educated but indoctrinated. They are taught that mastery in one small area of human endeavor makes one overall a superior human being that other should defer to. Faux intellectuals claim to have specialized and superior knowledge of matters that no human being yet understands.

    So fine, embrace glibly articulated nonsense that does not even have the virtue, as does religions, of being time tests. Grovel at the feet of those who pronounce themselves your betters. Walk down the path of security to your reward of serfdom.

  9. The “creative class” is way presumptuous – I write historical novels, for pete’s sake, stories that explore communities and families, and involve a great deal of historical research and lashings of imagination, not to say command of the craft of storytelling – and I work a couple of drudge jobs in an office to eke out a military pension. Not creative? The things that I have had to say as office manager employed by a small business…

    Seriously, after ten years of working for big and small firms, it was the small ones who were the most creative, and the most responsive. The larger ones are strangled by process and hierarchy… which is as good a definition of what is wrong with Hollywood, Wall Street and Silicon Valley as I can think of.

  10. Shannon, you seem to be railing against “leftists” in a discussion about how more-educated people voted in 2008. This election was lost in the middle, not on the extremes. And it’s in the middle where snide, dismissive swipes lose votes.

    I have no idea what your “glibly articulated nonsense” is. You can’t be referring to the theory of evolution, can you?

  11. Anonymous,

    Some of us have trouble voting for candidates who don’t believe in evolution but rather that nurture is so dominant that nature plays very little role in determining human behavior.

    Some of us have trouble voting for those who ignore history, leaving them with little perspective and a tendency to see past events with little proportionality and to sneer at those who were far wiser than they.

    Some of us have trouble voting for people who have little understanding of religion – one of the dominant institutions in Western history – and its relation to science and individual rights (let alone the universal importance of the spiritual).

    Some of us have trouble voting for those who don’t see the importance of a tradition that has led to lives of greater happiness because of individual rights and the security of a peaceful life under the rule of law.

    Some of us have trouble voting for people who, looking at the economic theories, remain convinced that the world is a pie, in which every bite taken by someone in the developed world means one less for those of the undeveloped one.

    Some of us have trouble voting for people who can look at the French Revolution and see it as a model, when we are quite aware that other models, more close to home, were more likely to see, as Whitman would put it, the divine spark in every man.

    Some of us have trouble voting for someone who believes an argument for evolution is best made by silencing any discussion against it – or that the best argument for climate change is categorizing the opposition as deniers – or that the best argument for tolerance is intolerance.

    Some of us have trouble voting for the xenophobic in a diverses nation like ours since we are intuitively and powerfully egalitarian; we respect and listen to those of different religious beliefs than our own and with different accents and with different experiences.

    Some of us have trouble voting for those who do not respect the dignity, integrity, and resilient nature of our fellow citizens.

    And, finally, some of us have trouble voting for those who believe that war is evil but seem to have never considered the relatively larger cost and destruction of democide, who ignore the lessons learned in the twentieth century about this terrible ferocity in man.

  12. Anon, a great example of “glibly articuated nonsense” is provided by a paper on “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity” which was deliberately constructed to be as ridiculous as possible but was apparently considered by many academics to be within their normal universe of discourse. See The Sokal Hoax.

  13. Ginny, You clearly articulate your philosophy, but I don’t see how your discursus addresses the practical question of why highly educated voters tended to prefer Obama in this election. My argument (and I’m extrapolating here from my personal feeling) is that the rhetoric of disdain for science, intellect and “elitism” tends to drive such voters away. It doubt it attracted any. There may be valid arguments against the particular fruit fly or grizzly bear research in question, and points to be made about the value of hands-on experience vs. ivory tower pontificating. If so, they were not made in a way that would appeal to a voter whose colleagues or friends may be involved in such research.

    Re: evolution. There is much to discuss, obviously. But it is the prevailing scientific theory and the underpinning of modern biology. Some of us–even those who believe that evolution and a belief in a divine power are not mutually exclusive–have trouble with those who might dress their personal religious beliefs in the guise of science and force it to be taught in the classroom.

    I find your reference to xenophobia quite puzzling. What was the point of the constant references to Obama’s middle name, if not a blatant attempt to depict him as “the other,” the scary Muslim who’s not like us. What of “Pro-America” and “the real Virginia”? Certainly not appeals to the better angels of our nature.

  14. The original discussion item posed by David Forster is an excellent one, again, in his words: “For discussion: what, if anything, should Republicans/conservatives/libertarians do to increase their appeal to these categories of voters?”

    I am of the “credentialed class” and I voted for Barack Obama. As did almost all of my friends. (I can think of just one McCain voter that I interact with regularly.) Let me tell you a little about how things look from my point of view.

    There’s actually a lot in conservatism that appeals to me. I like the idea of government being more frugal. I also like the idea of not intervening in other nations’ affairs except for self-defense. Small business rocks. I really like the constitution, especially the parts about free speech and equality. I also like the idea of general freedom and preserving that. Its sooo key. And of course, our duty to support military veterans is extremely important to me. Back when I was a kid in Pennsylvania we had 2 great Republican senators, John Heinz and Arlen Specter. I lived in Rhode Island for a while and we had a cool Republican senator there — Linc Chafee. Not that I agreed with everything these politicians did but they are the types I would vote for.

    Heck, I’d even maybe vote for “the old John McCain.” A lot of my Democratic leaning friends used to say, that John McCain isn’t bad like the rest of them. He was anti-torture and pro-campaign finance reform and wasn’t trying too hard to make abortion or gay people illegal. I think if the Dems had run a boring Gore/Mondale/Kerry type like they usually do and if McCain hadn’t chosen Palin, he would have had a shot. But the McCain/Palin ticket of 2008 was an extreme turnoff. First of all, McCain totally caved and adopted the rightist ideology of Bush. Second, I cannot emphasize enough how Sarah Palin really, really, scared the hell out of “credentialed class.” She just seemed like Bush II.

    Also, Republicans are not winning any friends by accusing Democrats of being un-American. I find that so personally offensive, as do most of my Dem friends. Also doing things like implying that Obama is a terrorist is not cool. And I always thought the Republicans were all about individual choice, so what’s with all these anti-same sex marriage movements? Everyone in the “credentialed class” has gay friends that this affects. So these issues that I just mentioned might seem like side issues, but they just make your party seem very unwelcoming and unappealing.

    So here’s my advice: Stop adopting rightist ideology and get back to the roots of conservatism and you’ll win some people back. And try to be more welcoming.

  15. Anonymous,

    … those who might dress their personal religious beliefs in the guise of science and force it to be taught in the classroom.

    If you think that trait is an exclusive or evenly majorially a trait of the religious right, you haven’t been paying attention. Don’t tell me you think that when social conservatives advocate policy you think they are “imposing their personal values on others” but when leftist advocate policy they do it purely out of science and pure reason?

    Creationist might be overboard but on the other hand 17.4% of professors in the liberal-arts self-described themselves as Marxist. Do delude yourself. Your not looking at one groups behavior but rather different versions of the same behavior at the extremes.

  16. OK, I guess we’re outliers again: chez nous, the number of post-graduate degrees divided by the number of votes for Obama is … sorry, you can’t divide by zero (“Yes we can!” No, you can’t).

    Maybe we need to parse it a little finer. How many people with post-graduate degrees in business, finance, mathematics, economics, chemistry, physics, engineering, or anything requiring frequent resort to a calculator voted for which candidate? How did those with a Master of Fine Arts in Dance vote? What about the critical Gender Studies, Education, and Urban Planning electorate?

  17. Chel & Anonymous,

    I would like to convince you to vote for a Republican; I would like to convince you to vote for a conservative. But I am not going to apologize for finding Palin attractive nor for believing that thoughtful reasoning would lead you to different conclusions than you have drawn.

    In the first place, I was noting (as have others here) that the belief that “anti-intellectualism” is characteristic of thinking on the right and not on the left may be true if “intellectualism” is defined as taking certain stands. If, however, an intellectual is one who reasons, then the positions I outlined were not merely “my” philosophy but rather the conclusions that evidence can easily (very easily) be mustered. (I noticed that you didn’t address those – certainly they may be controversial but they are not without merit.)

    Second, the fact that “anonymous” is surprised by my attribution of xenophobia to the left and that Chel argues that Palin scared all of his friends on the left is the kind of thinking that led me to see (and this has often been my experience) the left as being more xenophobic. Sometimes the “other” is of a class that they think is foreign to them (or they fear is too close to them). Diversity is often highly praised by my academic acquaintances, but they often have trouble interacting with people who come from quite different cultures (say Asian graduate students or Slavic visitors; they are likely to deny Appalachian types who began in junior colleges later admittance to graduate school).

    As far as the “unAmerican” – this is a lesson you might well teach to many on the left. Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and countless others have described those on the left as unpatriotic and unAmerican. When Sarah Palin says the equivalent of “have a good day” (You are “real” America) she is criticized and endlessly quoted. When someone introduces McCain and uses Obama’s middle name, McCain quickly and openly criticizes him. (The fact is, of course, that Hussein is his middle name. I’ve known enough Eastern Europeans who lived lives in which facts could not be mentioned. I hope that that is not what you see as an ideal society.)

    I didn’t hear arguments that Obama was a terrorist – except perhaps the confusion in Ted Kennedy’s mind when he called him Osama. On the other hand, describing McCain as a war monger was a fairly common theme.

    Palin certainly shares with Bush certain values. That these are ones you might not appreciate is a reasonable reason to vote against the ticket, I guess. But that either “scares” you says more about the way you look at the “other” than you might be aware.

    It has been suggested that Obama’s first acts will be to halt the ban on stem cell research and impose the ban on off-shore drilling. These may be defensible “first acts” but they also might indicate a certain lack of awareness of the major research that has been done using alternate donor cells and a lack of the understanding of current oil field technology (a lack neither Bush nor Palin exhibits).

    Finally, responses of conservatives to many issues are not determined strictly on personal, subjective grounds. Of course, many of us know, like and work with gays. We have varying positions on gay marriage. But, in general, we have more confidence in the voice of the people than we do in the voice of the courts. That is because we are generally more optimistic about the wisdom that eventually (we feel) wins out in a democracy with an open marketplace of ideas. It is true that the election of Obama may not be seen as evidence of this – but we accept this. We may see it as a temporary setback, but our position is not to irrationally fight his every move. In fact, our position is not to irrationally fight. We have seen enough of BDS. We do not see ODS as an appropriate way to spend the next four years (though the tendency of some to already speak in terms of the next eight years is a bit irritating).

    (I might say in an aside the fact that many on this blog find the stand of many in the social sciences toward evolution to be far more prevalent, destructive, and counterintuitive than any evangelical wanting to argue with a teacher over evolution in a high school biology class.)

  18. P.S.
    Yes, many did refer to Obama in terms of terrorism, but that was because of his relationship with Bill Ayers – certainly a source of concern for many of us. His journey with Ayers, his work with him to fund school programs that proved to be unsuccessful in almost any way they were judged – these are worrisome signs. Again, if this is something not to be discussed, I am unsure exactly what kind of a climate we are entering – but I am sure it is not one I find attractive.

  19. I should not write so emotionally; of course, I mean that Pelosi, etc. use such words to describe those on the right, not the left.

    Part of the reason I made the mistake was a) because the left often says others think of them that way when they have no evidence anyone has actually said that. It is not unlike strategies historically used to pre-empt such criticism when the speaker is self-conscious (for not so mysterious reasons).

    b) I have on this blog noted and believe that I have not seen as much understanding, appreciation of, and affection for American history on the part of some candidates on the left. That I do feel (Biden’s lack of understanding of the constitution, Obama’s of the number of states may have been minor, but seemed part of a pattern.) I argued and feel that a successful leader needs to appreciate and even love whatever they lead (whether it is a factory or an academic department or soldiers into battle or an entire nation) if they are going to be successful. Again, is that an observation that should be verboten?

  20. I think it might be worth having a look at what was happening in Russia at the end of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Education was spreading (when stupid advisers to various tsars did not try to stop it) and the number of teachers, doctors, engineers, writers, businessment, etc etc was growing rapidly. There were some remarkable people around and among them remarkable inventors, organizers and thinkers. But the only people who were described as intellectuals and continue to be described as intellectuals by half-baked historians were those who subscribed to a set of leftist ideas. Thus you get books full or paeans of praise for the great intelligence and ability of men and women who had not been able to hack a university course but, having dropped out, joined some organization that advocated the overthrow of tsarism, refused to see anything good in reform, feared that people’s lives might get better without a revolution and supported violent action.

    I have noted the same dynamics in political discussion since at least the sixties and it had become worse. Creative because you have a second degree and think all the allowed right-on thoughts? My left foot!

  21. what, if anything, should Republicans/conservatives/libertarians do to increase their appeal to these categories of voters?


    Education, Credentialists believe, gives them the power to change things. It does not teach them that there are things that cannot be changed and how to tell the difference. Obama will not be able to change things as much as they wish. And many will dislike what changes occur during his tenure, whether he initiated them or not. Those will look for new ways to change things.


    The Bush administration tarnished conservatism by governing in its name but not by its principles. Those principles have not changed. They need to be rediscovered and renewed. They have to be presented palatably. This will be much easier to do without the baggage of the Bush administration in the background.


    The ultimate failure of the conservatives was their failure to remain true to their principles when they gained power. If they repeat this error they should expect to repeat the failure.

  22. the rhetoric of disdain for science, intellect was simply nonexistent among Republicans in this election; “elitism” has little to do with either.
    There may be valid arguments against the particular fruit fly or grizzly bear research….If so, they were not made in a way that would appeal to a voter whose colleagues or friends may be involved in such research.
    An intellectual would be more interested in valid arguments than sentimental nonsense about your friends and their research grants.
    the rightist ideology of Bush is the kind of vapid rhetoric leftists and inattentive wannabe leftists have so much trouble rising above. To describe the President who vastly expanded education and Medicaid spending, pushed to open the southern border, tripled AIDS treatment funding for Africa, and embarked on a sustained project of nation-building to give prisoners of two developing world tyrannies functioning, decent governments for the first time ever as a “rightist” is to stretch the word beyond comprehension. If Bush is a “rightist”, so were Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton.
    I cannot emphasize enough how Sarah Palin really, really, scared the hell out of [the] “credentialed class.” She just seemed like Bush II.
    Ignorant people often lash out based on fear. They often even admit to it. Outside of the modern Democratic party, I’m not sure how many people have done it while preening about their own imagined intellectual superiority.

  23. Well said, Ginny.
    I roughly break down the electorate into two groups- people who talk for a living (+-)liberals) and people whose livelihoods are affected by the laws of physics (+-)conservatives). For people who talk for a living (professors, media & arts types, politicians, etc) there is little downside for making errors. After all, it’s one worldview against another and… mine is obviously correct.

    However, if you are a craftsman, your errors are out there forever. Gravity happens! If your table is built incorrectly, it wobbles, and all the opinions in the world won’t change that. Any electrician knows the force of electrocution. You can’t argue about it over coffee. Joe the Plumber has a relationship to the real world of dripping pipes that a community organizer can’t dream of.

    Consequently, liberals have come to believe they are immune to the laws of gravity/reality. On a national scale, we can see this in the financial crisis. It has taken several years for Congress’ bad decisions on lending to come home to roost, but it did happen. Congress is hiding their part in the failure fairly successfully by lots of talk…
    The “bailout” is just a postponement of gravity.

    I’m sure y’all can tear my thoughts apart readily- doesn’t change the truth behind them. Maybe we really SHOULD’NT drill… and go back to physical labor for all the things oil does for us today- what would the professors say about that?

    Susan Lee

  24. I appreciate and thank Ms. Lee for her comments and suspect we are in agreement in most ways. I must, however, acknowledge I “talk” for a living. Ideas have consequences and if I weren’t standing in the front of the room talking about those ideas, I’d be less productive.

    I hope my students don’t know which way I voted. I also hope these classes equip them with rhetorical skills, a basic appreciation of the universality of man’s experiences gained from literature, and some pride in their cultural heritage as Americans. If I do my job well, they may not vote as I do. They will, however, have skills and context that equip them for the battles of ideas they will encounter. Our text, Ramage and Bean, notes in the introduction: “Your very independence and freedom depend on your ability to think, read, and write critically.”

    And so, while I agree with much on this blog and much in your comment, and quite quickly leap to condemn academia, I remain an English teacher and am rather happy with that lot in life.

  25. > Is a computer programmer

    Computer programmers are natural libertarians, and tend to vote with Republicans, though they’re always swing voters. The more talented they are, the more likely they are to be libertarians. You could likely prove that with a study of Real Programmers, but that’s been my empirical observation for decades. These are people whose job it is to simulate the real world, and get smacked hard by the real world when they don’t do it right§… They don’t get taken in easily by big government or marxism as solutions, since they flat out don’t work.

    The “creative class” being spoken of are not programmers at all, but the artist-graphics types and the Harvard MBA types which are a huge portion of Silly Con Valley, and generally far more numerous than the actual programmers.


  26. “..Educated in what?” ..”

    Shannon hit the nail on the head. A prime example is the UARC “controversy” we had here at the University of Hawaii. I won’t go into the boring details of what a UARC is, but suffice it to say that it is a very good thing for research funds for universities that get them(University Affiliated Research Center if I am not mistaken) that eases funding of DOD research by university personnel. Anyway, the company I work for does a lot of SBIR work and DOD research in the software area and so we were called upon as a “pro” at the public hearing at the university because there had been a huge(and by huge I mean 200 people who get press coverage) push back against it by university students and staff. Well the thing I observed, was that almost withought exception, every scientific or engineering discipline professor was for the UARC and 99% of the faculty against it were from the English department, department of Hawaiian studies, Library information systems(librarians), the art department. Every pro faculty person was a respected engineer or scientist in the real world of research whose work actually funded those other departments in many cases since Hawaiian studies and English, Art, etc bring in very very little in funding compared to the sciences. When pressed on issues they didn’t agree with, many of the English professors could come up with little more than “I don’t want have the university working on Bush’s secret weapons programs” or some other bumper sticker response, even though this has nothing to to with the Bush administration and is a long standing program. Typical….

  27. > And I always thought the Republicans were all about individual choice, so what’s with all these anti-same sex marriage movements? Everyone in the “credentialed class” has gay friends that this affects.

    Anon, what you, and anyone who supports gays fail to grasp is that this, like abortion, is not an on/off matter. One can accept — tolerate — homosexuality without openly encouraging it. And I’m sorry, that’s the way it’s always handled with the Left — it’s treated as though either it’s no restrictions of any kind or absolute rejection of it.

    I would happily ack that it’s in society’s interests to ack that what someone wants to do in the privacy of their bedrooms is between them and whatever God they believe in. This does NOT mean it’s in society’s interests to say “Go to it!! Here, have all the advantages which marriage provides!!” That includes health insurance, life insurance, credit records, adoption, child rearing, and a whole host of other interrelated elements of life which one can certainly find issues with granting to homosexual relationships. Tolerance & acceptance are not the same as encouragement. It’s possible to make a rational, non-homophobic argument that society should discourage homosexuality as a social force. But that’s different from the past pattern of jumping on it with both feet. But liberals don’t accept that notion — either it’s treated exactly the same as every other one of life’s choices or it is a criminal act and gays are being shunned and shamed into non-existence. Uh, NO.

    (And in case anyone on EITHER side was going to attempt to argue about “abortion” being a greyable area, I think it’s clear that there are a whole host of contentious sub-issues where societal choices exist — parental notification, the term-point beyond which it is allowed/disallowed, Rape, Incest, RU-486, etc. — so it’s FAR from an all-or-nothing issue, just as acceptance of homosexuality isn’t an all-or-nothing matter)

  28. Another thought occurs to me when I hear these statistics which people love to drag out..how in the world could anyone *possibly* have an accurate measure of this? To me, it seems impossible that any measure of this could be accurate? How do they gather this information? Please someone tell me they are not simply asking exiting voters “who did you vote for and what is your level of education”. Please tell me that is not how they gather that statistic?

  29. Chalk me up as a rare member of the “credentialed” or “creative” class who voted for McCain.

    However, like the anonymous commenter above, I cringed when McCain trotted out his “bear DNA!? HAW HAW HAW” example, which carried with it a wealth of assumptions about the value of scientific research and the scope of government responsibility, assumptions that were shattered when a few weeks later, this same candidate proposed, in a fit of desperation, that the federal government should buy up distressed mortgages from sea to shining sea. McCain went from populist mockery to big-government conservativism without ever stopping for a snack break at actual conservativism.

    Make the case, if you wish, that the government shouldn’t be funding research into American wildlife behavior and habitats, but don’t mock a scientific project just because it sounds esoteric. (Hell, no less a libertarian hero than Robert Heinlein testified before Congress about the benefits the rest of us derived from “esoteric” space-flight research, including telecommunications technology and the development of the ultrasound.) I’d love to see the Republicans really make the case for smaller government, and I think they’d peel off a significant number of votes from the “credentialed” types if their rhetoric didn’t strongly imply that they think the work of scientists and researchers is inherently asinine. Senators are the ultimate do-nothing federal employees; as such, they aren’t especially credible when they mock the relevance of someone else’s expertise.

  30. This isn’t about evangelicals vs. moderates.

    There’s a weird strain of populism in today’s Republican Party. See how Huckabee went after Romney in the primary. There were plenty of valid reasons to vote against Romney. But Huckabee bashed Romney for looking “like the guy who laid you off”.

    It was silly & juvenile to attack the man’s appearance. But more important, Republicans cannot build a conservative movement based on class envy. Yet the party picked up on Huckabee’s cues. Obama was described as an effete, arugula-eating snob who can’t bowl. Lame. This is the party of Reagan?

    Obama’s comments about bitter people clinging to guns & religion were disturbing. But that’s because he was being a typical 2-faced politician. His comments were disrespectful to the people of SF and the people of rural PA.

    There are serious problems in academia. Shannon Love nailed one when she pointed out that a large number of professors describe themselves as Marxists. But you don’t counter that with politicians aping high-school dropouts.

  31. That Economist column does a good job of summarizing leftist conventional wisdom. Call me cynical but I don’t think the Republicans should take advice to become more like the British Conservatives. It seems to me that Cameron’s Tories, should they eventually take power as seems likely, are on course to repeat the Republicans’ worst errors of unprincipled leadership of the past few years.

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