Thursday, April 12, 2007
The students, however, recognize it. Eberstadt's new book, Why I Turned Right, makes the case that famous conservatives become that way after starting out in school as liberal (David Brooks argues that they do it to be cool, to affect a superior attitude to the perceived ignorance of the Right.) That may well be true at more elite institutions. At SCSU, however, a majority of students I see know who the professors are who are putting their political views on display in the classroom, and surprisingly it's not working: On a campus where 90% or more of the faculty are Democrat, a new SCSU Survey of students says only 36% self-identify as Democrat, to 26% Republican.
Johnathan Chait pooh-poohs Eberstadt's collection of stories, likening the conversions of the David Horowitzes and Heather MacDonalds as like joining a cult. He is right insofar as those who publish as leading voices of the new Right tend to be people who knew how to be leading voices of the Left. But focusing on the few in Eberstadt's book misses a broad swath of students at non-elite schools, educated by the second- and third-rate liberals from more elite schools (who alternatively pray for their deliverance from a conservative Midwestern hell and curse the fates), who shrug, chug a beer, and head off to middle class jobs feeling like they are the ones delivered. Indeed, as a number of us were discussing over lunch today, the increased use of two-year schools as feeders for the state university system is just the thing to allow our students to avoid the grips of the displaced, dispossessed leftist's general education course.