That Ol’ College Try

Kapil Kale ’07 made a feeble attempt in yesterday’s D to explain the presence of liberal bias among the professoratti. Feeble, I say, because he relied on words of wisdom he obviously cribbed from his Sociology 101 class explaining the strong correlation “between years of education and liberal political preference”:

One of the first lessons taught in American government classes is that there is a strong correlation between years of education and liberal political preference. Education forces people to open their mind [Their collective mind? How Jungian!] to new ideas and ways of thought, encourages reasoned thought and fosters social awareness–tenets central to the philosophy of the Democratic party. . .Education inherently discourages belief in a just world [omitted part explains that Republicans base their beliefs on the “just-world bias”] by directly expanding the mind by teaching new perspectives and paradigms of though, essentially putting students in the shoes of others.

In other words, Kapil cuddles up to the stale belief that those of us who voted for Bush are less-educated; we haven’t had our minds exanded; we must adhere to antiquated paradigms and perspectives; Well…

In the 2004 election, the Pew Research Center found the following for party group identification:

Republican Democrat
Below HS Grad 21% 40%
HS Grad 28% 33%
Some College 32% 31%
College Degree+ 33% 32%

Voting patterns for the 2004 election:

(% of total) Bush (%gain from 2000) Kerry
No HS (4) 49 (10) 50
HS Grad (22) 52 (3) 47
Some College (32) 54 (3) 46
College (26) 52 (1) 46
Post Grad (16) 44 (0) 55

These numbers obviously put a bit of a crimp in Kapil’s argument, especially the relative sizes of the various factions. But let’s complicate matters further with this analysis (down the page quite a ways) of education and race from the 2002 mid-term House elections:

(% of total) GOP Share
No HS (3) 53%
HS Grad (22) 56%
Some College (30) 61%
College Grad (26) 63%
Some Postgrad (20) 54%
No HS (7) 2%
HS Grad (25) 4%
Some College (38) 10%
College Grad (22) 16%
Some Postgrad (8) 19%
No HS (14) 27%
HS Grad (22) 31%
Some College (35) 35%
College Grad (18) 55%
Some Postgrad (11) 40%

What’s this I see!? As blacks become more educated a larger portion votes for the GOP!? And the same for Hispanics, until they reach the post-grad level!? Might wanna grab your eraser and return to the drawming board, Kapil.

He is right on one point: The liberal bias on campus is due in large part to self-selection. But his assertion that the correlation–which, according to these numbers, is certainly not “strong”–between education and political stripe has to do with fundamental changes wrought in the psyche, the expansion of the mind, as it were, is ridiculous. One of the first things taught in American government classes is that correlation does not mean causation.

Kapil’s screed is just another instance of a pie-in-the-sky liberal talking down to Republicans and conservatives with little or no factual basis. Just another attempt to feel better about the bruising losses Democrats have suffered the last few elections at the hands of those of us mired in our ancient world beliefs. We Republicans just can’t put ourselves in others’ shoes, dammit, but somehow we manage to keep winning!

There are other aspects of the piece to be criticized–its stilted prose, the bits lifted from Krugman as Nathaniel notes in an earlier post, the pathetic appeal to authority (“as an ethnic minority in the greater society of America, I grant that…”), the failure to have even the most basic understanding of conservatism or Republicans (“…the central beliefs of the Republican party often are based on faith and sources other than accepted fact”), & co.–but such drivelling inanity deserves no more of my time.

Well, maybe just a little. Kapil closes with this gem: “If conservatives want to regain the support of academia, the Republican party itself will have to shift.” Tell you what, Kapil, we’ll happily cede academia if you let us keep control of the House, the Senate, the Presidency, and the state governorships.