Why We can Blame Anti-Intellectualism for the last 8 Years, and for People Like Sarah Palin

Monday, July 6, 2009

When I was growing up, in that conservative family I told you about, my mother emphasized education above and beyond everything else. This is one thing, especially, I continue to thank her for. And actually, she did it because she honestly thought it was the most important, empowering thing she could give to her two daughters. She, from a small town in New England, finished high school a self-proclaimed "average" student and dropped out of her self-proclaimed "average" college when she decided she didn't want to become a teacher. She picked up, and moved west, the way dissatisfied east costers have been doing since the days of covered wagons. It's at least one way to strike out on an adventure.

So I was born in the West, and the education of my sister and me became one of my mother's main focuses. I have always been told that working hard in school was the only way to ensure a successful future. And I listened. I worked hard in high school, got top grades in college, and ended up at one of the very top programs in my field for my Ph.D. (I attribute much of that to pure luck, actually, since I was also rejected from many of my total back-up schools.)

So when then-Senator Barak Obama was running for President, for the highest position in the land, and I heard my own parents dismiss him because of his education, because he possessed a degree that set him apart and above much of the rest of the population, it was hard not to call bullshit. I'm sorry, but I DO want a president who has studied, and even taught, the constitution rather than one who views it as a purely malleable document to be used to serve his own interests. I DO want a president conversant in, all of the major and complicated issues of our day. I DO want a president who is highly educated, because only through education can anyone hope to grasp the subtitles of international and national politics. I'm not saying that I understand everything I expect Obama to understand, but we've been educated for pretty different jobs.

So no, I actually don't want the "Average Joe" running this country. I don't care if he's a cool guy with whom I would want to have a beer. I don't care if she says things like "you betchya" and shoots animals from her helicopter window. But it sure as shit helps that our president is a diplomatic, intelligent and learned guy who can carry on important conversations without embarrassing himself and the country. Who here is relieved not to have to cringe every time he opens his mouth, raise your hands.

And I don't really care if this position is elitist. Bush was elitist. The Republican doctrine is elitist. It is absolutely not too much to ask that the most important job in this country be held by someone of exceptional intelligence and educational pedigree. It should be a pre-requisite. And maybe now, it finally will be.


Anonymous said...

this is NOT elitist! It is not elitist to value education - education is the great equalizer, as I just said on Apostate's blog on classism.

Argh!!! the fact that the majority of this country thinks that a liberal education is for the privileged few, just shows how low our democracy has sunk. -madaha

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