Monday, February 27, 2012

So...We Go To College to Become "Indoctrinated" Into Liberalism??? Really?

Flipping through the Sunday talk shows as I sometimes do, I came across quite a few which were featuring the latest and greatest soundbites from Mr. Rick Santorum the (almost?) front runner in the Republican primary who has been going toe to toe with former governor Mitt "Mo-Money!" Romney.  Now what I like about Santorum is that this guy doesn't give a rat's ass what you think about his convictions - he's gonna say 'em anyway.  And in a race like the Republican primary where each man is trying to "out-conservative" each other, some of Santorum's material can't be beat.  But with this latest quip about college, he may have gone just a little too far...even for most conservatives:
“President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college, What a snob!”
[OK, so far so good.  Standard red meat for a conservative crowd.  Mandatory Obama insult: check.]
"Not all folks are gifted in the same way. Some people have incredible gifts with their hands! There are good decent men and women who go out and work hard every day and put their skills to test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor trying to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I want to create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his."
You can almost hear the Troy, Michigan Republicans in the room internalizing this statement and realizing that they're clapping for an anti-college message.  Like, "Yeah, fuck college!!!, wait a minute...don't we kinda need college?"
And thus we embark upon the latest in conservative vs. liberal banter: college.  College...the final frontier where, apparently, we go in with our heads on straight and tight and we leave in a single file line like Lemmings chanting ritualistic mumbo-jumbo about clean energy and a woman's right to choose. 

Politically, this latest position by Santorum is a loser even among his own party (not to mention those with college degrees only have a 4% unemployment rate).  Indeed, even Republican Governor Chris Christie came out against him on, saying:
"We need to have an education system in New Jersey and all over the country that makes all of our kids, college or career-ready. It should be their choice. And not every kid wants to go to college, but I think we should aspire to let every child reach his maximum or her maximum potential. And if Senator Santorum’s against that, then I don’t think that makes any sense. And I certainly don’t think the president’s a snob for saying that. I think that’s probably over the line."
Clearly, Christie is another victim who has been indoctrinated by the liberal college system.

But if we can step back from the political soundbites for a moment, Santorum does raise an interesting point about faith vs. education that may provide some insight into the whole Red State v. Blue State dichotomy that we often find ourselves in every 4 years during a national election.  Although I don't count myself among them, there are some people who view science and religion as antithetical to each other.  As a Christian who also happens to be an engineer, I tend to reject this type of thinking out of hand for obvious reasons.  But still, we can't overlook the very real dynamic out there of people who feel like Santorum.  Some people are convinced that the more education one receives the more they tend to lean left.  Likewise, there are certainly arguments to be made that the less education one has received the more likely they are to hold conservative views. 

I don't profess to have the answer to this puzzle, but I will say that there is something about being educated that tends to allow somebody to see past the social conservative agenda.  Now the fiscal conservative agenda is an entirely different animal backed up by algorithms and economic data, but the social conservative agenda tends to suffer from an over-reliance of "well that's what I was taught as a child so that's how it is."  Sure, as a child, you learn things such as the woman's role is to stay at home cooking and cleaning or whites can only marry other whites because, as a child, you don't know any better.  Once you become educated about the world around you, you start to ask questions like "why?"  And if the best answer that you hear in response to "why" doesn't comport with all of the objective data that you now know to be fact, then one can understand how those kind of arguments tend to fall unravel to an educated person.

So when Santorum attacks college as some kind of liberal training ground that brainwashes the minds of America's youth into liberal elites, what he's really attacking is the ability for people to educate and think for themselves beyond a point where they will simply accept as gospel whatever social imperative he tells them to believe in.  Education is a powerful tool.  It has allowed mankind to go from making up stories about the moon to actually walking on the moon.  But to some like Santorum, apparently it's a bad thing that needs to be discouraged lest we all become a bunch of godless liberals.

1. Why do you feel Santorum/People like Santorum are against college?
2. When did the Republicans take the position of being anti-college anyway?
3. Is there something to the notion that less education = more social conservative and vice versa?
4. Does one have to give up their religious faith to believe in science or vice versa?
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