In Defense of Not Paying Much Attention to the GOP Primary
I’m not someone who thinks politics are uninteresting or unimportant, but I just can’t bring myself to stay up on the…nonsense, this time around. First of all, I’m not voting for any of these fools, and not only is this group of candidates infuriating, they’re sad. Secondly, if I paid closer attention, I’d be blogging every day and I simply don’t have time for that. Recent statements by Rick Santorum (eh, who am I kidding, ALL statements by Rick Santorum) are a perfect example of why I’m trying to stay in my happy place a little while longer.
It’s no secret that the name of the conservative political game is I Am Being Wronged And So Are You, You Just Haven’t Realized It Yet. They have attacked everything. They have claimed that not teaching creationism is Christian persecution. They have claimed that universal healthcare will lead to death panels. They have claimed that poor people today don’t deserve public assistance because they have modern conveniences such as refrigerators. But now — perhaps because he is running out of ideas — Rick Santorum has decided to take a stand against higher education.
“President Obama once said he wants everybody in America to go to college,” Santorum said to an audience in Michigan on Saturday. “What a snob.” [clapping and laughter]
(What a snob? In the words of The Colbert Report, “Yeah, what a snob. Obama thinks everybody should go to college like he did. Some of us weren’t handed a ticket to Harvard by being the biracial son of a single mother on food stamps. Must be nice.” )
Santorum went on to say, “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 to try to indoctrinate them. Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image. I wanna create jobs so people can remake their children into their image, not his.”
Apparently Santorum knows something we don’t…since when has there been a Republican anti-college voting bloc? (Later defending his stance, the devout Catholic — who holds not one, but three degrees — quoted a yet-unsourced statistic that “62% of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”)
It’s easy to laugh off these candidates as stupid. But we elected Bush, remember? So the problem is much bigger than that. The problem is that there is a huge community of disaffected whites who feel threatened right now. McCain received 58% of noncollege-white votes in 2008—these people make up the Republican voting base.
What’s scary isn’t that the GOP candidates have opinions and ideas that reek of persecution-to-come (well, actually, that is very scary…this isn’t a well-constructed sentence), what’s scary is that the facts don’t matter anymore. As David Frum (of all people!) recently pointed out, “the conservative mind has proved itself only too open, these past years, to all manner of intellectual pollen…conservatives have built a whole alternative knowledge system, with its own facts, its own history, its own laws of economics.” And yet, the Republican voting base hasn’t seemed to notice.
The “facts” are being strained and pressed and remanufactured into things unrecognizable. These candidates are backed by Murdoch publications and broadcasts, a huge wing of the book publishing industry, and a number of think tanks that seem to double as PR agencies. What is a conservative voter to do, when the “facts” are not being “refudiated” where they can see them?
For the record, the commentary on college that Santorum was referring to was from 2009, when Obama actually said, “Tonight I ask every american to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be a community college or a four-year school. Vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.”
I thought that was in-line with the American dream. I thought that the idea was that with hard work, anyone could rise to the middle or upper classes. I thought the idea was to provide a better life for your children, to make sure that they have more opportunities, such as the chance to go to college or receive training in a trade of their choice.
Then again, my views have been tainted by a liberal education. So. There’s that.