It’s All the Fault of the “Socialist” Faculty!

BY HANK REICHMAN

The following comes from a story published yesterday by The Hill:

Republican pollster Frank Luntz on Tuesday told delegates at the Republican National Convention that the GOP has “lost” the millennial generation of voters.

Addressing the South Carolina delegation, Luntz attributed the Democratic Party’s hold on younger adults to colleges and universities that he said are leading them toward socialism.

“We have lost. It’s not like we are losing, we have lost that generation. And I don’t care if you are a Democrat, Republican, independent, none of the above. The fact that 58 percent [of millennials] say socialism is the better form of economics, that is the damage of academia,” he said at a breakfast event here.

“The No. 1 priority to me is what happens at universities. And yes, Capitol Hill matters, yes politics matter, but a whole generation is being taught by professors who voted for Bernie Sanders. That’s a problem that begs for a solution.”

Frank Luntz

Frank Luntz

So, I guess we should gird ourselves.  If the Republicans lose in November, watch out for some pretty mean-spirited scapegoating directed at the professoriate.  For clearly in the eyes of those like Luntz the younger generation has been “lost’ to “socialism” all because of us and that cries out for a “solution.”  Never mind, of course, that most academics, even on the left, neither call themselves or actually are socialists of any stripe.  Never mind that the number of classes in which openly “socialist” readings predominate is minimal and at many institutions totally non-existent.  I challenge anyone to identify a single “socialist” Economics department.  Never mind also that the most sacred principles of our profession enjoin us from indoctrination.  And, most of all, never mind that a generation brought up during the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, at a time when income and wealth inequality, not to mention simple abject poverty and homelessness, have grown to hitherto unseen levels might well be likely to question the morality and workability of unrestrained capitalism.  Surely instead it’s the professors who are to blame for such allegedly extreme views among the youth, not their life experiences.

But wait!  The same survey that found 58% of college-age (not, by the way, limited to those who actually have attended college and have been exposed to those horrid professors) also found that 56% had a positive view of capitalism!  I guess those millenials are just hopelessly confused despite our best efforts!  The survey, we should note, also found that “college-aged Americans are far more supportive of a free market system (72%) than they are of a government-managed economy (49%).”  So maybe it’s Luntz who is confused.  And, lastly, a previous survey from 2015 found that while 36% of Americans under the age of 30 had a positive view of socialism, 39% had a positive view of capitalism.

If past history is a guide, however, mere facts won’t stand in the way of red-baiting anti-intellectual critics of academia like Luntz and his ilk. We’ve been warned.

7 thoughts on “It’s All the Fault of the “Socialist” Faculty!

  1. I think it has something to do with the fact that we teach our students to think for themselves! That’s pretty much a foreign concept in the Republican Party.

  2. If you’re trying to reason out anything Frank Luntz says, you’re giving him too much credit. His entire public life has been comprised of saying whatever occurs to him that make might people angry and upset no matter how much or little it has to do with reality. And he’s a master of simply repeating tropes until they take on lives of their own (e.g. he’s the person who floated the idea of referring to the “Democrat Party” just because it’s irritating to Democrats, but almost nobody who actually does it remembers that anymore–and that’s a pretty innocuous example).

  3. I have to confess that I ceased to identify myself as a Republican and instead discovered that my actual views were closer to socialism…in COLLEGE! Should we mention that the Vietnam War was going on, the Civil Rights movement was going on and I had seen on television how the South handled citizens of color who merely wanted to vote and enjoy the other rights of being Americans, I was forming friendships with students who came from all over the country and all over the world and actually had VARIOUS points of view, and I was taking a lot of courses (including Physics, that subversive political field ha ha) that made me THINK? Naaah–I reckon it was all the fault of professors who were determined to “indoctrinate” me. Did I go on to a career (and then a “career”) in higher education–a rather demanding profession, I would point out, and precarious in many ways including financial–just to hang out with other socialists and recruit impressionable young people to the Red Flag? Luntz would, I guess, say yes….

  4. Pingback: Business Ethics Blog Posts 7-21-2016 The Concrete Sarcophagus Edition – Pilant's Business Ethics Blog

  5. A recent study found that the supposed “liberal” or “leftist” bias among university faculty is concentrated–as one might expect given broader voting patterns–in New England: that is, it simply does not exist in much of the rest of the country [See: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/07/05/new-analysis-new-england-colleges-responsible-left-leaning-professoriate%5D.

    I also think that the shift among younger voters toward the left is more due to the combination of high student debt and the still relatively levels high under-employment among new graduates than it is due to their awareness of broader socio-economic issues. And it actually may be primarily due to largely non-economic issues such as the treatment of women, of LGBT individuals, and of non-Whites. Even Frank Luntz cannot contrive messaging that mitigates the chauvinistic, homophobic, racist, and xenophobic rhetoric coming from the Far Right ideologues who now thoroughly dominate the GOP.

    • The article you cite includes this quick summary: “In 2014, Abrams found that nationally, colleges and universities had a six to one ratio of liberal to conservative professors. In New England, the figure was 28 to one.”

      A 6 to 1 ratio hardly justifies the claim that a liberal bias “simply does not exist in much of the rest of the country.” Abrams does not say that the New England ratio accounts for the 6 to 1 ratio in the rest of the country; that appears to be a misreading of Abrams’ study.

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