Are college-educated Americans out of touch?

Nah, no way.

The reality is that six in 10 Americans do not have a college degree, and they elected Donald Trump. College-educated people didn’t just fail to see this coming — they have struggled to display even a rudimentary understanding of the worldviews of those who voted for Trump. This is an indictment of the monolithic, insulated political culture in the vast majority our colleges and universities.


Think about the sets of issues that are often at the core of the identity of the working-class folks who elected Trump: religion, personal liberty’s relationship with government, gender, marriage, sexuality, prenatal life and gun rights. Intuition and stories guide most working-class communities on these issues. With some exceptions, those professorial sorts who form the cultures of our colleges and universities have very different intuition and stories. And the result of this divide has been to produce an educated class with an isolated, insular political culture.


Thus today’s college graduates are formed by a campus culture that leaves them unable to understand people with unfamiliar or heterodox views on guns, abortion, religion, marriage, gender and privilege. And that same culture leads such educated people to either label those with whom they disagree as bad people or reduce their stated views on these issues as actually being about something else, as in Obama’s case. Most college grads in this culture are simply never forced to engage with or seriously consider professors or texts which could provide a genuine, compelling alternative view.


The goal of such changes would not be to convince students that their political approaches are either correct or incorrect. The goal would instead be educational: to identify and understand the norms, values, first principles, intuitions and stories which have been traditionally underrepresented in higher education. This would better equip college graduates to engage with the world as it is, including with their fellow citizens.

The alternative, a reduction of all disagreement to racism, bigotry and ignorance — in addition to being wrong about its primary source — will simply make the disagreement far more personal, entrenched and vitriolic. And it won’t make liberal values more persuasive to the less educated, as Trump victory demonstrates.

Stephen By Stephen

About me


Professor and quant guy. Libertarian turned populist Republican. Trying to learn Japanese and play Spanish Baroque music on the ukulele.

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