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.”
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.