In news that will surprise nobody, Republicans really really dislike higher education.
A new survey from the Pew Research Center found that, over the past two years, Republicans have increasingly found colleges and universities to have a negative impact on our country.
As recently as two years ago, most Republicans and Republican leaners held a positive view of the role of colleges and universities. In September 2015, 54% of Republicans said colleges and universities had a positive impact on the way things were going in the country; 37% rated their impact negatively.
By 2016, Republicans’ ratings of colleges and universities were mixed (43% positive, 45% negative). Today, for the first time on a question asked since 2010, a majority (58%) of Republicans say colleges and universities are having a negative effect on the way things are going in the country, while 36% say they have a positive effect.
Among Republicans, the older and poorer they were, the more they looked down upon those institutions.
I’m guessing conservatives will say this is because higher education “brainwashes” students with liberal ideologies and schools are too “politically correct.”
Those are lies. The best colleges teach students to think critically and ask tough questions. They bring together a diverse student body to offer different perspectives. They make it difficult for anyone to remain in an ideological bubble. Sure, there are exceptions to all of that — we often hear examples of liberal students refusing to listen to (and/or outright boycotting or disrupting) conservative speakers — but those are the ideals.
No wonder today’s Republicans don’t like that. They thrive on misinformation, isolation, and Jesus. They can’t handle facts and assume reality is a conspiracy theory. They dislike colleges for the same reason evangelical Christians dislike public schools — they fear exposure to people whose values differ from their own because they know they’ll always lose a battle of ideas. It’s easier to demonize the other side and create a bubble of their own.
The same study also found that 85% of Republicans felt the national news media was bad for this country — echoing Donald Trump — compared to 46% of Democrats who feel the same way. You can be disturbed by the sensationalism of some media outlets, but anyone who understands how journalism works at top newspapers, magazines, and (yes) television news shows would know how much work goes into reporting stories, working sources, and making sure all available evidence backs up what they’re saying.
This data isn’t really about colleges and the media. It’s about whether you think open-mindedness, tolerance, reason, and evidence make our country a better place.
There are people who believe that.
The ones who don’t are running the White House and working to make life even more difficult for our most vulnerable citizens.