Putty for the Campaign

The scene of the president’s recent campaign stops  was familiar. The college setting was again chosen. I watched as energetic, happy, adoring folks voiced their appreciation and approval of their candidate with great enthusiasm. The audience was not all young, but the audience was pretty typically university. I have been in many such university audiences over my years at several universities.

But the question that should be asked is why the university setting is so often the scene of a campaign stop. It would not be so unless it is fertile ground for the philosophical base of the candidate. Otherwise, only the bravest would subject themselves to the potentially contentious, possibly rowdy, and often strongly opinionated voices of the wonderful young voices present.

What happens at most of our universities that causes young adults from many different backgrounds and political views to end up with a nearly monolithic political bent? Most who enter colleges and universities leave with a liberal political view of their world. Professors are admired folks on the campus. They should be. They have great influence on our young, the next generation of voters. No one would argue the political choice of most university professors and instructors. They hold liberal social and economic views. Although they live a life of privilege and prestige, most preach and teach that those of privilege and prestige outside of the public arena are greedy, non-caring persons who are the enemies of the “common people.”

The university, the place where we send our young with the hope that they will encounter differing opinions, has become in many cases a place where only one kind of opinion is accepted or tolerated. It is easy to find cases where students whose views differ from those of the professor are ridiculed or punished with lowered grades.  And there is plenty of evidence that the accepted view is liberal in tone and fact.

Such is not the founding of most of our great universities. Many of our great and oldest universities were founded on principles and ideas from our founders who were responsible for our founding documents that were so carefully written to create our republic and maintain its greatness for all generations to come. Our universities are an important link in the changes that have occurred in our republic because they have forgotten their own beginnings. How could the premises of the founding documents be preserved?

We the people” concept has become “us and them.” It is easy to convince young people that even their parents don’t understand this generation, this culture, this current environment, or what is needed now. Old-fashioned ideas and documents just won’t work in these modern times, the reformers say.

So I ask: If you were a candidate who wanted a friendly, fertile, and enthusiastic venue for your ideas about distribution of wealth, the rich need to pay more (not the famous in most cases), a strong and massive role for government,  the right to demand a  fair share whether or not you work, the right to a college education, the right to own a home, and a wide variety of services and entitlements, where would you go? I would go to a university where ideas are often tightly controlled, where most teach and support Democratic philosophy, where young and malleable students become victims of one-way-thinking in this venerated environment.