Election 2004: The Ivory Tower Weeps

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

The election returns last week left many academics distressed. After working for four years to elect someone other than the president, many were emotionally drained by the experience that exhausted not only their campaign contributions but also their classroom lecture time.

“No matter whom you talk to outside our circles, begin to perpetuate the (false, exaggerated) notion that George Bush’s victory was built not merely on values issues, but gay marriage specifically,” Tom Schaller, an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland in Baltimore County wrote. “If you feel a need to broaden it slightly, try depicting the GOP as a majority party synonymous with gay-haters, warmongers and country-clubbers.”

“Because I, for one, am tired of hearing whiny complaints from conservatives that, not only do I not have values, but that I fail to properly respect the values of people who are all too happy to buy into, no less perpetuate, inaccurate caricatures of the 54+ million Americans who voted Tuesday for John Kerry.”

Indeed, at least one other academic who supported the losing presidential ticket hinted at a belief in the miraculous. Art History professor Norah Taylor admitted to a pair of Washington Times reporters that she had been “hoping for a miracle.”

“I’m depressed,” she said. “We need change.” Taylor echoed the disbelief that film critic Pauline Kael expressed over the election returns of 1972 that returned Richard Nixon to the White House when the art professor admitted that she does not know anyone who voted for Mr. Bush.

Not to be outdone, Nick Halpern, an English professor at North Carolina State University told the school newspaper, “An educated nation would have voted for Kerry.”

“The Republican students I have talked to are amazingly uninformed,” Halpern said. “I wish they had learned about the issues before they voted.”

Here’s some free grief counseling for professors everywhere who are trying to cope with their 2004 election loss: wrap yourself up in your work. In other words, you can use your political science class to teach your students how a bill becomes law, your art history class to teach your students how French impressionism evolved, your English class to see if your students can recognize Shakespeare’s soliloquies. Your students might even find this educational.