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Thursday, March 23, 2006

False Dichotomies?

I left a question over at Pedro the Quietist's about an article claiming that most of the student body at Harvard supported Summers, and that there was an increasing ideological rift between the faculty and students:
There is a generation gap at Harvard University. The students are far more conservative than the faculty. ...

In a poll released March 13 by the Harvard Crimson, 66 percent of surveyed Harvard students claimed to "disapprove of the way that members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences have handled their relationship" with President Summers. Only 15 percent agree with the faculty's handling of grievances.

The faculty is dominated by left-wing '60s radicals, all of them aging despite their former fantasies. ...
The day Summers resigned, students repaired in mass to Harvard Yard where they joined in unison, "Five More Years!"
...

As the Crimson editorial said, "Students believe in Summers' vision."

It is more than a passive belief; it is a belief of action that runs against almost every revolutionary stronghold of the aging professoriate.
The article goes on to make claims that Harvard students really are quite conservative. I doubt it. I think they are probably liberal in their ideals, but want some observable results. In other words, they want to make things better in practice on the ground, and they want a rationale for why such-and-such is going to work out in practice. La-la leftism is not good at this. It may well be that the "Red State/Blue State" split is more about process than goals. What I seem to see in the under-30 crowd is that they find politics and la-la leftism a turnoff because it has become an endless name-calling brawl.

As far as national elections go, I think the real shift is from the Demcratic party to the Independents. As far as Georgia goes, nothing much has changed internally. The electorate of Georgia believes that government is there to make sure that life is workable for the average person and especially for the average family. It's supposed to try to eliminate the negatives, improve the positives and not mess with the rest of us.

The reason that Georgians haven't voted Democratic in national elections lately is that the Democrats haven't seemed to be doing much to improve matters. They seem dedicated to the proposition that their ideals are so very, very loftily important that they must hold out for absolute victory, and only after that will we, the voters, get to learn of the magical secret plans to rescue the country. It's not selling here. The dominant mood is frustration and a belief that the spokespersons of the national party are liars.

I could be wrong, but right now I think Zell Miller is right. It's not the country that changed. It's the national leadership of the Democratic party. I strongly suspect that the majority of Catholics are aligned the same way. These are people who are neither left nor right, but expect good, reliable, efficient government.


Comments:
The article goes on to make claims that Harvard students really are quite conservative. I doubt it. I think they are probably liberal in their ideals, but want some observable results.

Sounds like the early Communist Party career of a certain Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev; largely spent in the field, with a close-up view of the actual results and side effects of the plans that looked so good in the capital.

They seem dedicated to the proposition that their ideals are so very, very loftily important that they must hold out for absolute victory, and only after that will we, the voters, get to learn of the magical secret plans to rescue the country.

That's almost a word-for-word description of Ross Perot's approach in 1992. (My parents were Rossies back then; I remember a visit with them where they spent the whole visit trying to get me to accept Ross Perot as my Personal LORD and Savior. I kept remembering the *real* First Horseman of the Apocalypse.)
 
I thought I was a yellow dog Democrat until I realized that I was a Sam Nunn Democrat, and later realized that the Democrats don't want me.
 
Carson, that is a pretty accurate description of many people! Most of the people I know who are really upset about the Dem leadership nationally used to be Democratic voters!

Anon - I know very little about Ross Perot. He wanted to put a big tax on gas, and he was against NAFTA. But there must have been some reason 19% of the voters went for him!
 
I don't know much about Perot, either, and what I have found out about him (from a book titled Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms by a professional campaign manager who used to work for him -- all of six weeks before getting fired like all the others) is not very admirable. A very petty man, very full of himself. He started out as a salesman, and in 1992 was basically selling himself as Political Messiah. Plus, he wasn't Bush OR Clinton.

When he tried it again in 1996 (with only his loyal Kool-aid Drinkers supporting him this time around), Local morning drive-time radio had an Election Day filk of The Macarena that went something like this:

"One's got nookie on the brain-a,
One's got a left side thats-a lame-a,
One's completely insane-a --
It's Election Day-na!"
 
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