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Op-ed: the next GOP candidate will go after higher ed

Looking ahead to the future of the Republican party, one might wonder: after the divisive and ideologically baffling Trump Era, what will unite the GOP in future elections?

One writer believes he knows the answer: conservative attacks and critiques on higher education.

“The next successful Republican politician will rally the Right by making America’s universities his punching bag,” writes Elliot Kaufman at National Review Online, “and the universities will prove even more vulnerable to that politician’s attacks than the media were to Donald Trump’s.”

Noting that a majority of Republicans now view colleges and universities in a negative light, Kaufman proposes that, following Trump’s presidency, “the GOP will need a message around which to coalesce.” That message, he claims, will be a full-throated condemnation of the “radical professors, race-obsessed provocateurs, gender-studies grifters, anti-Israel fanatics, weak-kneed administrators, disgusting libertines, angry feminists, and illiberal student protesters” that are a constituent feature of modern American college life.

This mode of attack will work for three reasons, Kaufman claims: “1) They’re partially true; 2) universities and the Left are in denial about their truth; and 3) Republican voters have been primed to believe them.”

From the op-ed:

American higher-education is incredibly screwed up. Only its most servile apologists will deny that. For one, it’s a bubble. Tuition prices never stop rising, far outpacing inflation, even as the services rendered seem to have deteriorated. Exorbitant tuition imposes an immense strain on parents, who often must reshape their lives around paying college bills, and on students, many of whom struggle under the burden of student debt for years after graduation.

Moreover, to what does all that tuition really entitle a student, anyway? The elimination of core curricula in the ’80s and ’90s has destroyed the foundation of American liberal-arts education. The “studies” majors have themselves drawn students in without being able to offer a promise of real erudition or substantial job prospects. Many disciplines have shifted dramatically toward the study of race, gender, and class.

The bias is undeniable: Left-wing professors and students predominate, while conservative thought is often ignored, sometimes marginalized, and occasionally forbidden by oppressive speech codes or threatening mobs. Political correctness and identity politics rule many campus student groups. And college life reliably promises socialization into progressive ideas and sexual mores, as well as a confrontation with the most relaxed attitudes toward drinking and drugs…

By burying their heads in the sand, universities allow the viewpoint disparities on their campuses to grow worse. Defenses by supercilious left-wingers may protect the schools for now, but they will ultimately make the academy into a juicier target for right-of-center populists. When a clever or merely loud politician finally puts the college system in his sights, the Right will be ready.

The “breaking point” of campus insanity, Kaufman argues, will be when “a politician dares to make higher-education into a national campaign issue,” after which “the universities…will walk right into the trap, while the Left rejects potential voters as deplorable ignoramuses.”

Read the whole piece here.

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