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Saturday, November 12, 2016
DROWNING the Elites in the Gene Pool
Wesley Pruden ANALYSIS/OPINION:
The 2016 elections are a gift that keeps on giving, and nothing has been sweeter than watching the chattering class being taken back to school. Rarely has smug arrogance been so sharply rebuked. It’s delicious to watch. Yum, yum.
The pundits and talking heads particularly relish the finding in the exit polls that most of Donald Trump’s votes appeared to be coming from white working-class stiffs “without a college education.” What should you expect from someone who had never seen the inside of the Student Union?
A college education is a fine thing, and a few years with access to a library and a conscientious professor is a reward that pays dividends for a lifetime. “A mind is a terrible thing to waste,” as a familiar television commercial once reminded us. Or as an earlier vice president, Dan Quayle, put it, “it’s a terrible thing to lose your mind.”
But a college education is no substitute for a native appetite for knowledge, wherever found and however acquired. Harry S Truman was one of our most lettered presidents; no other president and few historians had his knowledge and understanding of the office and of the presidents before him. Yet he never attended college, and had to go to work behind a brace of mules on the family farm and could not finish high school. He turned out to be one of the nation’s most effective presidents, presiding at a particularly troubled time, first in war and then in tense peace. Abraham Lincoln read the Bible and borrowed books to read by the flickering light of the fireside. “Educated” or not, he turned out pretty well.
A college education is not a requisite for casting an intelligent ballot, either. William F. Buckley, a Yale man and an educated consumer of the book of knowledge, said he “would rather be governed by the first 2,000 people in the Boston telephone book than by the entire faculty of Harvard.” Nevertheless, the book-proud sometimes never get over a sheepskin.
David Brooks, a columnist for The New York Times, despaired on election eve of the grim consequences of enabling the white, the less educated and those deprived of a college education to cancel the votes of the credentialed. Hillary calls them the deplorables.
“Basically, less-educated or high school-educated whites are going to Trump,” Mr. Brooks said from his satellite pulpit at National Public Radio. “It doesn’t matter what the guy does. And college-educated are going to Clinton. Sometimes you get the sense that the campaign barely matters. People are just going with their gene pool, and whatever it is.”
Perhaps eugenics, the science of selective breeding, is the only way to deal with the vast right-wing conspiracy, though such a cure requires the passage of generations to accomplish anything. But we must be patient with the chattering class. They’re still trying to figure out who and what hit them.
Professors at many places called “institutions of higher learning” felt moved to cancel classes to help their students deal with the trauma of life and the election results. A professor at the University of Connecticut told her students she understood if they needed “a personal day” to deal with the Donald having been elected president. A professor at Iowa State canceled a class and postponed a test because the defeat of Hillary is “a life-changing event,” and “I think many of you will need some time to cope due to the polarizing nature of the campaign.”
A student at UCLA in Los Angeles told his campus newspaper that “it feels like we’re cheated somehow. [Donald Trump] is a horrible person that doesn’t deserve this title.” But David Brooks and similarly disturbed pundits can take heart. If they can hold on reinforcements from the campus are on the way.
“The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak,” says Will Rahn of CBS News, one of the rare media notabilities who does get it. “With few exceptions we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.
“This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing, it’s unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there would be a winking ‘we did it’ feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar, and saved the republic.”
No one should expect an outbreak of humility in the ranks. The giants of the media still have bitter lessons to learn, and “the less educated and non-educated whites” will continue to grade on a sharp curve.