Republicans Sowed Anti-Intellectualism, Now Reaping Results With Donald Trump
We have heard the cry for decades from conservative Republicans. Every college professor is a liberal who only wishes to indoctrinate students. Education is not to be valued, and when it comes to matters such as Common Core there is no depths to partisanship that will not be taken for a political end. Science is not to be seen as facts but instead as only notions that can be swatted away if they are found to be uncomfortable.
Global warming, for instance is one of the most critical issues facing our nation. There is almost unanimous agreement among scientists that it is man-made and the problems associated with it are rising alarmingly. Every year we read about the record heatwaves, or cold spells along with catastrophic storms. Yet due to funding from multi-billionaires like the Koch Brothers the true movers and shakers within the camp of Republican candidates continue to say they believe global warming is not man-made.
What we have witnessed over the years is how an ever-larger growing number of Republicans have become the party of anti-intellectuals. In line with this the one slice of polling data that continues to stun and concern me is how many conservatives think governing experience is not necessary to be elected president.
To put this crazy notion into a historical context it needs to be stated that if Donald Trump wins the White House, it will be the first time in American history that voters choose a candidate with no political or military experience.
According to the Pew Center, 44 percent of Republican voters say they are less likely to support a candidate for president who has significant Washington experience, more than double the percentage of Republicans who said the same in 2007. While there can be an argument made for why voters are disturbed with the way Congress and Washington have worked over the past decade it is not logical to conclude that the only way forward is with the election of someone with no sense of governing or with any background in domestic or international policy making.
Yet, if we are to believe the polls, and primary state after primary state are showing the same trends as Republican voters embracing more fully the anti-intellectual side.
Since 2000 I have argued conservative Republicans are taking advantage of lower educated portions of this nation in an attempt to dumb down the electorate. Recall in 2012 when not one single Republican presidential candidate in the debates could stand with science and evolution. While I know full well the corporate boardroom type Republican shrinks in horror at such nonsense as they know the value to the nation of an educated populace being required to meet the competition from the world, it is also true that too many bumpkins in the heartland and southern states are easy prey to anti-intellectual thought.
At a time when more and more Republicans work to undermine education funding be it for K-12 or colleges the fact remains more broad-minded thinking needs to take place in our classrooms. I realize the push to dumb-down is everywhere with social media and television leading the way. Literacy, math, science, and history takes a beating everyday. In place of what should be a contest of ideas in the nation there is instead the blathering’s of Donald Trump.
As a lover of history it is not lost on me that a real core of our past comes from the notion that the “common man” mentality can lead the nation. The 19th century is showered with this concept. The whole argument was that hard work and perseverance would allow any person to rise to the highest office of the nation. I often use Abraham Lincoln as the personification of this idea. But what must not be forgotten is that the men and women of that century also held to the idea that education mattered. Majorities emerged that revered the understanding about the need for education.
Sadly over the past 20 years Republicans have often been the source for undermining education. We have allowed to slip away the idea of how important education is to make for better informed citizens. When we read of polls that show majorities of Republicans in state after state fail to see a need for an informed, educated, and experienced leader to reside in the White House we can only make one conclusion.
Republicans who sowed disdain for education are reaping the results with Donald Trump.