Yes, There IS a Link Between Higher Education And Liberalism

Hello Lads!  The Mouse here, reporting in after a grueling day of yard work, uprooting every single taraxacum from the front yard facing the Channel.  Not to be too stylish, I used an old tea spoon that my wife discarded last fall.  I despise taraxacum.  The task was tedious and a bit painstaking, and it drew the suspicion of my gumpy neighbor Nigel Paulsgrove.  I heard him muttering in my general direction beyond the ivy-covered stone fence surrounding his courtyard "Dead from the neck up.." he muttered.  He says mean things like that every now and again, but I don't mind.  He's also a bit of a liberal, but nobody's perfect.

Speaking of liberalism, I recently read a research paper that identified a connection between liberalism and higher education.  'Twas fascinating.  It also confirmed a suspicion that I have held for thirty years now.

It's a well-worn notion that college makes people more liberal.  But a new report adds a twist to this: the most educated Yanks and Brits have grown increasingly liberal over the last couple of decades.  

This report from the Pew Research Center finds a wide partisan gap between highly educated and non-highly-educated Americans.  Not only that, but the share of college grads and post-graduates who are "consistently liberal" (based on their answers to a series of policy questions) has grown sharply in the last 20 years.


In 1994, 7 percent of post-grads were "consistently liberal," and 1 percent of people with high school educations or less were — not much of a difference.  Today, the gap is 26 points wide — 31 percent of people with post-grad educations are consistently liberal, compared to 5 percent of those with high school educations or less.  I found that quite extraordinary.

This squares with something Pew found last year: While the partisan identification of people without college degrees have held steady over the last couple of decades, people with college degrees increasingly identify as liberal or lean that way.

Why the leftward shift?

"There's some pretty sound evidence that going to college leads people to have more liberal attitudes on social issues, in particular on issues of moral 'tolerance', of social justice and issues of gender equity," said Neil Gross, sociology professor at Colby College, who has studied liberalism at colleges.  This is true for Adventist colleges as well.

America and England are getting more polarized, he observed, and distrust in government appears to be one of many causes.  Brexit anyone?

Another possibility, Gross says, might be the growing numbers of women getting college and advanced degrees.  Women also in general tend to vote liberal more than men.  So as the population of highly educated people grew more female, that may have swung it left.  Another possibility is that people are living around their own kind more and more.

Unsatisfied with Gross's conclusions, I decided to add my own observations on why people in urban areas are becoming more liberal (bless their hearts).  So I put down my tea spoon and picked up the old pen.


People who live in cities are almost 500% more likely to become liberal than their country counterparts.  No wonder we are admonished to move out of the cities.  I think it has something to do with traffic jams.  It makes people more grumpy (it does me, anyway).  And grumpy people tend to wear pink hats and scream about 'oppression' a lot quicker as they oppress people.

Sick Desperate People Ask You For Help (money) Every Day

There are sick, desperate people in the country too, but they don't sleep on your front lawn -- although they might sleep on your couch if you invite them in.  In the country, when you hear people talking about the homeless, you tend to think they must be lazy ne-er do wells who need to get a job or a handout at the local Church.  Or, you get them a job baling hay.

Homeless people exist in population sizes bigger than most rural towns.  Los Angeles has an estimated 47,000 people with no place to go.  London has 59,000.  New York City has over 60,000, and that's a conservative estimate.  If you took the entire population of South Dakota's capital city and cloned them three times, they would still be outnumbered by New York City's homeless population.  Almost thirty percent of these homeless have some sort of mental illness.  As a city dweller, after a couple months or years of this, you conclude it would be worth it to pay extra taxes to keep these people from sleeping on your prize begonias.

People Get Shot a Lot

At least the Yanks do.  We don't have an abundance of firearms in glorious old England, but we do have the occasional glorious old blunderbuss, like the one I have over the fireplace mantle.  It was me grandfather's, stalwart that he was.  Gun ownership is the boon of country dwellers and the bad fortune of urban dwellers surrounded by crack-smoking miscreants or hip-hop ruffians.

In the country roughly two thirds of rural households have at least one gun in the house, and usually for practical reasons.  Shooting at someone is pretty low on the list.  A good gun in the country is just another tool, useful for plugging those groundhogs digging under the corn-crib foundation, and for stopping rabbits from going Beth Ditto on your tomatoes.  Clown faces leering in your bathroom window have a rather short shelf-life in the country.  But in the city . . .

Guns are totally for shooting people.  The first time you hear gunshots after moving to the city, you'll think it's firecrackers until you realize, Hey I don't think those drug dealers are celebrating the 4th of July.  Depending on the city, you might even get to watch a shootout between a crazy person in body armor and a bunch of cops while you crouch on the roof of your building.  It's like watching an action movie starring your neighbors.  So when the topic of gun control comes up, city dwellers jump on board with all the enthusiasm of the Cookie Monster entering Ben's Covent Garden.


So is there a link between 'higher' education and general liberalism?  According to Pew Research, there is.  According to LA Times, there is.  According to my grumpy neighbor Nigel, there is.  Only, he thinks it's a good thing.

The suppression of dissent at college campuses across the country isn’t the only indicator of a sickness in the culture of higher education.  Last year, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation released their annual report on U.S. attitudes toward socialism.  A stunning one-third of millennials, the most well-educated generation, reported they believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush’s eight-year presidency than under Josef Stalin’s 30-year dictatorship.  That is some serious tin-foil hat stuff.  We live in an age of trigger warnings, safe spaces, and a rising millennial romance with socialism.  It's a bit wonky out there.

So what can we as a Last day Movement to the world say to this rising generation?  

1) Be willing to learn, my friends, but don't be too enamored with degrees.  There is a difference.  There are many types of education, and some of them close more doors than they open.  Seek knowledge, and wisdom from God (Proverbs 4:5-9). 

2) You will probably be better off without college, and according to the statistics, your faith in God might be stronger if you don't.

3) College is a terrible place to go to church.  And so is YouTube.

4) Be conservative with yourself, and generous with others.  Shun politics on both sides of the benighted aisle, and follow the Lord with your whole heart (Jeremiah 29:11-13).

5) One can criticize college without criticizing the concept or act of learning.  Learn something new every day.  Read regularly, apply yourself, and take His yoke upon you and learn of Him (Matthew 11:29).  That is the best kind of knowledge there is, and you don't need to be in a college room with four walls to learn it.  Enjoy life by serving Him and sharing the Everlasting Gospel.

But then again, what do I know?  I'm just a blockhead who didn't go to college. 

May the "Joy of the Lord be your strength" (Nehemiah 8:10).




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