Academic Shock after Eric Cantor’s Primary Loss

, Malcolm A. Kline, 1 Comment

U.S. Representative Eric Cantor’s recent primary loss to free market economics professor David Brat has forced academics to take another look at the TEA Party.  “They are very suspicious of liberal professors and believe most of academia is dominated by liberal professors,” Harvard sociologist Theda Skocpol claims. “But they would know the difference in their district, and they wouldn’t disrespect somebody just because they were a professor, if they had the appropriate ideas.”

david brat

“It’s not so much an animosity toward higher education, per se, and more toward a cultural elitism among liberals and concerns about liberal biases,” Ruth L Braunstein, a University of Connecticut sociologist claims. Indeed, in the same article in which those quotes appear, in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Jon A. Shields, an associate professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, states that in academia “there are a lot of conservatives who are closeted before tenure.”

“That’s very common.” Thus, to most in academe, conservatives are, at best, exotic, and, more commonly, dangerous.  Indeed, academics are often surprised to find any evidence of erudition among TEA partiers, even though, as Jack Stirpling, author of the aforementioned article in The Chronicle, notes, “A 2013 report by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press said that 34 percent of Tea Party supporters have a college degree, compared with 26 percent of non-Tea Party Republicans.”

Just think of Ted Cruz vis-à-vis John McCain.