Monday, August 4, 2003

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How left is the Academy?

In reaction to this post and this post on the rarity of conservative academics, I've received a few e-mails rebutting the point. Here's a good example:

Apparently, public policy schools, law schools, economics departments, medical schools, and political science departments are no longer in academia. My recollection is that there are respectable numbers of Republicans in these precincts.

There are other departments, too, where Republicans (or those to their right!) still find their place in academia. Try the classics, or departments of European literature -- you'll almost certainly find folks who think in teems of blood and soil there. One such man I knew at Yale tended to play opera and mutter under his breath about the failure of the modern world to appreciate the achievements of Franco's Spain.

All of which is to say: enough self-pity, please! The Republican party currently controls the White House, both houses of Congress, seven of nine Supreme Court appointments, and a majority of the governors' offices.... Seems like an odd time for him [Brooks] to complain about being marginalized.

Two small points and one larger point in response.

Small point #1: Trust me when I say that there are not a lot of Republicans in political science departments.

Small point #2: With the exception of economics departments, I'd wager that this observation probably holds true for most departments within an arts and sciences faculty.

Large point: The e-mail is still correct. Point taken.

posted by Dan on 08.04.03 at 03:45 PM


First, glad to see the comments--I hope they don't become problematic.

Second, as a liberal grad student in a decent grad program the only debate in 2000 was Green versus Gore. Every once in a while I had the gaul to not absolutely hate George Bush (he's cured me of that since) and would just be looked at with amazement.

Not to get too polisci, but one thing I do in class is discuss how coalitions change using the model that Gary Miller and Norman Schofeld just published in the APSR. I then have my students predict my political ID on the exam. The smarter ones use that model and get it right. The less smart one tries to use a specific issue for a proxy. I end up with a Bell Curve centered over Democrat with some Republican votes, some Independent votes, some Green votes and no Natural Law Party votes since I savage them as the most ridiculous party ever thought of.

There is a larger point, and I think that as social liberalism has become less split between the parties and more what is dividing them, highly educated professionals who are very socially tolerant have moved towards Democrats. There are exceptions, and while you are very socially tolerant you frame the issues differently than most and end up being a libertarian leaning Republican.

posted by: ArchPundit on 08.04.03 at 03:45 PM [permalink]

I think most conservatives would regard your correspondent's argument as an example of his own liberal bias. Franco is hardly representative of the U.S. Republican Party in 2003; a fan of Franco's Spain is an oddball; and any fan of "blood and soil" nationalism is a racist and an enemy to conservative principles. Now, I think it's important that academia employ oddballs, as well as mainstream Republicans and Democrats; but it's unfair to count the oddballs as if they were conservatives. To count oddballs who favor ideas that conservatives loath as conservatives is worse: it is an instance of the classic lefty slur likening Republicans to the dictators Franco, Hitler, Mussolini, etc.

posted by: pj on 08.04.03 at 03:45 PM [permalink]

The puzzling part about claims of a liberal bias in academia and the press is the implication that the right has no recourse or alternate/equivalent/(superior)influence. What's a conservative to do, in the face of such leftist influence on society? How can you ever compete?
Oh yes, with your millions of dollars spent on pr campaigns, campaign donations, lobbyists in Washington, legal teams, and subsequent control over both houses and the Executive, that's how. Why, with all those liberal professors out there, you're just powerless!

It's very hard to take these complaints seriously.

posted by: James on 08.04.03 at 03:45 PM [permalink]

James - The complaint is not that the right can't compete, but that the left gets to compete with taxpayer funding and tax-paid jobs while the right competes on its own time and with its own money.

posted by: pj on 08.04.03 at 03:45 PM [permalink]

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