The 2016 election saw many statistical predictors of how a given person might vote—and many, many claims as to what was the deciding factor—but a fairly obvious one was educated. The less education a voter had, the more likely they were to vote for Donald Trump (among white voters, anyway, according to the data), but it seems that the level of education among Trump supporters wasn’t exactly coincidental. A Pew Research poll shows that Republicans tend to have an active disdain for college.
A quick note to trolls: No, the polls weren’t so wrong in the election that we should never trust a poll again as long as we live. That’s not how anything works at all, nor were the polls unusually wrong. It was just a close race, and Clinton did, in fact, win the popular vote, as was predicted—which I point out in this instance simply to back up the polls and not to argue about the Electoral College. This time.
The Pew poll asked just over 2500 respondents various questions, including whether or not colleges are helping or hurting the United States. According to their polling history for the past few years, Democrats have normally been happier about higher education, but after 2015 and extending into this year, Republicans took a sharp turn from mostly thinking colleges were good to believing that they’re harmful:
Before we go any further, I don’t want to suggest that going to college makes someone better—or even smarter, necessarily—than anyone else. We all know plenty of people who are educated but still not very smart, and vice versa, for a variety of their own reasons. But to believe that anything about gaining additional education is bad for someone or their country is completely incomprehensible, unless we’re talking about the potential for crushing student debt.
So what are they so mad about? That’s more difficult to back up with hard data, but there’s been a lot of talk lately about “elites” pushing unwanted political policies on others, along with furor over “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings” on campus, that likely has something to do with it. Rather than dive into a deep explanation of safe spaces and trigger warnings, let’s just keep things simple and say, no matter what those things actually are or accomplish, concerns about them are fabricated.
For the purposes of those who are very concerned about how harmful those things are, they’re detached from the reality of the situation and just throwing aronud buzzwords, like when you hear anyone talk about a “participation trophy” to help them illustrate what’s wrong with a certain generation.
If the concern is that colleges tend to favor liberal ideology and are doing damage because liberalism is bad, there are two possible reasons for that perception: either colleges actually have a nefarious plan to teach liberal values as part of a grand conspiracy, or the person who thinks colleges are too liberal is the one with the skewed perspective that results in labeling the learning of facts as politically left of center.
Either way, Donald Trump loves the poorly educated, as he said himself, and they love him right back, to the point of a growing disdain for education itself. They even love him enough to ignore his lies, which was noticed in a separate study, conducted by a group of political scientists. That study shows that, while fact-checking Trump’s claims does tend to change people’s minds on the facts themselves, it doesn’t change whether or not Trump supporters like the man himself.
That’s probably true of a lot of people, not just Trump supporters or Republicans. I can’t think of a single person who’s never been wrong about something, especially in politics, and it’s normal not to let a single mistake, or even a few, completely ruin your opinion of someone. But let’s not turn this into a useless “both sides do it” argument. It’s OK to admit there’s a difference in giving Trump a pass on his lies. Don’t tell me that if you’d be OK with a qualified, liberal neurosurgeon operating on your brain, it’d be hypocritical not to let a conservative with no medical training, who has expressed a desire to eat human brains during surgery, do the same.
(via Newsweek, Ildar vector / Shutterstock.com)
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