Majority of Republicans think higher education is bad for America

Knowledge and science is left wing. Truth is for the fakers.
Ignorance is the path to Righteousness.



The poll seems to have simply asked whether the institution in question had a positive or negative effect, while anecdotally I’ve found it to be somewhat more nuanced.

Among right wing leaning family and acquaintances there seems to be universal support for postsecondary education, but gets more granular in the specifics.

Their areas of concern involve the cost and debt loads (pretty universal I think), especially if students chase liberal arts or career paths with possible poor employment/earning prospects (i.e. engineering and medicine good, anthropology and language bad), and the withering of the skilled trades. With current social movements bubbling to the top of the national consciousness, disdain for ‘campus liberals/SJWs’ have become more prominent, especially as the poison of white supremacist ideology has been seeping into more mainstream conservative media (it’s uncomfortable dealing with a family member who has recently become emotionally distraught over ‘white genocide’).


Yes, I agree this attitude stems from the widening culture war and the us vs them mentality.


Looking at that chart you can only eyeball it, but it looks like their opinion of colleges and universities started a steep decline mid-2015, maybe around June 2015?

It’s like Trump declared his candidacy and America just lost it’s mind.


Certainly not “The piles of debt it can levy on students”. They support the predatory lenders, speculation by repackaging bad student loan debt as securities to be sold to institutions and came up with the notion of student loan debt being undischargable in bankruptcy.

Certainly not “Lack of alternative education paths like trade schools?” By attacking organized labor, they removed one of the primary benefactors for trade schools and the ability for most blue collar work to pay middle class wages.

Certainly not “The percentage of international students instead of Americans taking seats?” since most colleges go out of their way to recruit foreign students to expand their student base (and income). If American students are losing seats to foreign ones in American colleges, it is a sign of failure of the education system. Something conservatives have zero regard for. [You have to be pretty inadequate/wildly mediocre to be losing out positions due to “affirmative action”]

"That it indoctrinates liberalism?"
Well that is one way of putting it. That one is sort of correct, but not quite. But such “indoctrination” usually involves being exposed to students from different backgrounds, beliefs and interests, coupled with the lack of small community peer pressure which is ingrained in High School. The idea of having to live in close proximity to people who are not of the same community being so corrosive to long held bigotries and assumed beliefs.

So 0.5 out of 4 for you.


As everyone else has said, this isn’t surprising. The Republican party is increasingly the party of older, uneducated white people. Represented by people like my uncle, who, as a big Fox News watcher, spouts the party line that colleges “brainwash” students into being liberals. Given that the Republican party and its policies are increasingly in opposition to reality, this stance is only going to get worse.

Given the nature of the question, that’s the only explanation that makes sense. (Also, it’s fully within the rhetoric of the Republican party and its mouthpieces these days, who frequently criticize the very existence of universities as hotbeds of liberalism that will make our children godless communists.)

That is literally the opposite of the Republican platform (at least the Texas Republicans, who explicitly have come out against critical thinking).

I suspect it has less to do with people changing their minds and more to do with the demographics of who has stayed in the Republican party.


Yes, for the last 100 years.


If it makes you feel any better, my typical response to “White genocide” is to say its just a cover for the speaker’s personal inadequacy. The inability to find a consensual mate of similar racist bent who is willing to procreate with them,.


58% of “right-leaning Americans” believe that colleges and universities “have a negative effect on the country”

They’re right, but not for the reasons they usually cite.

Colleges for a long time now have been raising prices in ways that are out of sync with the growth in middle class incomes. Kids aren’t getting any better education out of it either, and with ever more people being pushed through the educational system it’s really watering down the marketability of the degrees they are getting–few end up using those skills in the job market, and instead it’s just treated as a “Brain License” or white collar prerequisite. You just need a degree–any old degree will do! Not coincidentally, people are carrying ever more debt.

An investment in more blue collar jobs actually would be a good thing–i.e. trade schools. Germany has done very well by trying to take the stigma out of trades, and investing in free higher education for those who can use it, and trade schools for those who can’t.


Meanwhile, in other news:


I’m pretty far left (definitely to the left of Corbyn and Sanders) but I think that science and knowledge are apolitical. They can and have been used for capitalism or socialism. freedom or fascism.

The root problem with the American right wing is that they have become detached from reality on a large scale, because it doesn’t fit their ideology of hate and control.


Unfortunately, they voted against the candidates who included free or highly subsidized trade school in their platforms (Sanders, Clinton, Rubio).

Being a university professor, I’ve been told the following things by my family members: That I am a sponge taking up taxpayer money to spend on useless garbage, that I’m indoctrinating students, etc. And then they wonder why I don’t visit.


It would also involved greater involvement and investment by organized labor. Something which is constantly marginalized and attacked by conservatives.


The old republicans definitely hate Higher Ed the most, though it is interesting to note that the 20 percentage point drop happened across all age groups (of Republicans) in the study. Though also crucial, that 20 point drop for 18-49yo cohort left them at a respectable 44% supporting down from 65% (only about 10 points below the consistent-across-demo for Democrats), two years ago vs. for the 50+yos, the drop was from 43% down to a dismal 28%…


So much this. Real science is about ideas, not ideology. If you have to distort and pervert your analysis to meet your hypothesis, you’re not doing real science – you’re just performing mental masturbation.


Was that inspired by the survey that found that “Seven percent of all American adults believe that chocolate milk comes from brown cows”?


I don’t think anything can escape politics, though. If one political movement is against using evidence to make decisions, then the act of using evidence to support decisions becomes a political position. If one political movement is anti-science then science is political.

Right now politics seem to be about how we know what is true. The idea that we should determine what is true using proven methods is a left-wing political idea.


Well, that’s disturbing. Although the 18-49 group is a big age range and includes some age groups that have actually stayed Republican. Which is to say, the shift even in the lower age bracket might still have been impacted by young people being less likely to be Republicans now.


Exactly. I’m a biologist, and “Who we use as human test subjects” and “What is the acceptable level of cruelty with which to treat them” are absolutely political questions. Biomed sciences have, arguably historically, been built on who has the power to force other populations to be test subjects (example). The knowledge itself may not be political, but how we got it sure as shit is.


I’m not trying to say that politics/ethics/emotions/etc don’t or shouldn’t have a place in science because it absolutely does.