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It Took Them This Long to Catch On?

Republicans Outnumbered In Academia, Studies Find
George Will, Washington Post, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and Observer of the Obvious Extraordinaire, says:
“Oh, well, if studies say so. The great secret is out: Liberals dominate campuses. Coming soon: “Moon Implicated in Tides, Studies Find.”

He goes on to point out,

…”American campuses have more insistently proclaimed their commitment to diversity as they have become more intellectually monochrome.
They do indeed cultivate diversity — in race, skin color, ethnicity, sexual preference. In everything but thought.”

Kind of nullifies those bumper stickers in the faculty parking lot that so delightfully read: “Dissent is Patriotic”

I know, there are those of you out there who do not like the Washington Post. But as one of conservative mind, who attends a sometimes violently liberal university, Will is dead on with his views of liberal-dominated acadamia.
It is not to say that all liberals in acadamia are hideous swap creatures of the night. Most are very nice. But Will brings up an excellent point:

“Bauerlein says that various academic fields now have regnant premises that embed political orientations in their very definitions of scholarship:
‘Schools of education, for instance, take constructivist theories of learning as definitive, excluding realists (in matters of knowledge) on principle, while the quasi-Marxist outlook of cultural studies rules out those who espouse capitalism. If you disapprove of affirmative action, forget pursuing a degree in African-American studies. If you think that the nuclear family proves the best unit of social well-being, stay away from women’s studies.'”

Also, note to self: do not send any future offspring to Berkeley:

“…George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Berkeley, denies that academic institutions are biased against conservatives. The disparity in hiring, he explains, occurs because conservatives are not as interested as liberals in academic careers. Why does he think liberals are like that? “Unlike conservatives, they believe in working for the public good and social justice.” That clears that up.”

Now, someone tell me that this Lakoff man is not rotten, biased, discirminatory, and completely full of shit. I dare you.

  1. Timbo says:

    Timothy: yes, I know what a corporation is and its purpose — to maximize shareholder value, just as, it can be said, a proprietorship exists to make profit for the proprietor. I’m saying that there are other important variables that should be taken into account.

    Seattle Weekly is running an article on Costco this week (December 15-21), talking about how the corporation is succesful despite slapping Wall Street in the face by prioritizing employees and customers over shareholders. (Fuck you Wal-mart!)

    Money is the only way to obtain shares in a company. But there are other factors at stake when such a powerful entity as a corporation moves. Shareholders are a relatively minor subset of the stakeholders in a company’s operation. I maintain that employees, customers, and our shared habitat are universally more valuable than shareholders’ profit. Corporate law should reflect this.

    Proprietors must balance their businesses across their employees, the surrounding community, and their profits. Once upon a time, corporations did too — no longer.

    If we continue on the present course, corporations will (and can!) only clean up their emissions to the apex of profitability, only treat their employees well to the apex of profitability, and only uphold the law to the apex of profitability. Et cetera. They are barred from going further by the definition of corporation, recent case law, and the difficulty of seeing past local maxima.

  2. Timbo says:

    I think Bloggerman is pear-shaped.

  3. Timothy says:

    And, further, who do you think has been held accountable (guilty already in the court of public opinion) for Worldcom, Enron, and all the others. Don’t go telling me that folks aren’t trying to hold the BoD accountable when they’re busy filing lawsuit after lawsuit against people who left the Board of Enron two years before it all went pear-shaped.

  4. Timothy says:

    Timbo: What is a corporation? A group of people. What is the purpose of a corporation? To maximize shareholder value. What are shareholders? People who own bits of the corporation in various quantity…do you get where I’m going with this?

  5. Melissa says:

    “…Cass Sunstein, professor of political science and jurisprudence at the University of Chicago, calls “the law of group polarization.” Bauerlein explains: When like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs.” They become tone-deaf to the way they sound to others outside their closed circle of belief.”

    JS, while the logic of simply hiring more conservatives with PhD’s may seem simple enough, that was the point of the whole article I posted in the first place. It isn’t possible to simply balance a system of inequality (intended or unintended) by adding more of the lesser group. It isn’t that there is a lack of people with PhD’s who happen to be conservative, it is that there seems to be a trend towards passing them over or assuming that everyone with a PhD is moderate to liberal. In the above passage pulled from same article, the group polarization spoken of tends to make extreme liberal tendencies the norm, thereby making less liberal or moderates mmore conservative by comparison. It’s a sliding scale of political definition.

    As I have mentioned before, the term conservative should not be used to define a group. The important group here is the group with PhD’s, and as Timothy suggested, the restriction on personal politics in the classroom. What I experience on campus and especially in small discussion classes is that it is often best to keep my opinions to myself unless they have to do with the subject at hand. People who have PhD’s do not automatically become correct in their observations or opinions. Too often, classes become unfacilitated discussions of misunderstood government policy and finger-pointing verbal riots. Basically, the same tenent applies to classes as to social interactions: be polite, courteous, and try to be understanding about individuals and their views.

    Bob Jones U: any campus that makes their female students wear past-the kneee length dresses and cardigans is just weird. Miu-Miu, popular though they may be thanks to Maggie Gyllenhaal and Kirsten Dunst, does not ensure that floppy prim propriety fashion will be in forever. So live it up while your dress code is bustin’ up the fashion mags, Bob Jones U, because I’m still waiting for the Marilyn Monroe size 14 body type to be hip again. I’m not holding my breath.

  6. JS says:


    I think you’re right about point #2. Political orientation doesn’t matter. What matters is a professor’s ability to lead an informative discussion where several valid viewpoints are represented well. Thus, the essential problem in academia seems to be bad professors rather than liberal political beliefs.

    As a liberal, I think academia would be better served if more conservatives with Ph.D’s, well equipped to teach college classes, sought teaching positions at our colleges and universitites.

  7. Timbo says:

    Doesn’t Bob Jones U have a restraining order against liberals?

  8. Timbo says:

    Affirmative action is never appropriate.

    Regarding defense contractors and energy execs: the corporation must be redefined. Corporations exert more influence on the political process and on our habitat every day. Let’s bake some ideals other than profit into the legal definition of corporation. I think it had better start with revoking or limiting personhood status — let’s shift some accountability back to the board of directors. Hopefully this would eliminate legal transgressions as line items.

  9. Timothy says:

    JS: Actually, I think you’re misreading point #2. A liberal academia is only a bad thing insofar as the political biases of professors influences in-class/on-campus discussions. Having been called a fascist, racist, homophobe and many other things of varying distate in class and even by instructors, I can say that’s really the crux of the issue. Economics at the UO is surprisingly apolitical, and I was very lucky in that respect. Likewise in the math classes I took.

    Here at the bank, I do not know and do not care about the politics of my coworkers. Further, in the private sector it’s unimportant: being more liberal/conservative than your coworkers won’t influence your ability to do your damn job, being more conservative than a professor may well cause you to be graded poorly in a class. I’m sure the same is true for liberals at, say, Bob Jones U. The folks at Bob Jones are looney, as are the folks like Chuck Hunt (formerly) of the UO. The point is that their personal politics have no more place in the classroom than my boss’s do in determining my performance.

  10. JS says:

    The consensus here seems to be:

    1) Academia is liberal; and

    2) A liberal academia is a bad thing.

    So what, in your opinion, should be done about this to restore balance? Is some sort of affirmative action for conservatives appropriate?

    How do you feel about other influential sectors of society that lean hard conservative? What should be done about the political bias among defense contractors or energy company executives?

  11. ko says:

    I meant overtly not overly. sheesh.

  12. ko says:

    History, law, and economics not overtly political? Surely you jest.

    I’ve been waiting for this thread to die. I have also let a lot go by on which I might have commented, but I really couldn’t pass that one.

    I, too, like to imagine that some disciplines exist outside of politics, or at least that some academics may attempt to engage in some disciplines outside of politics. I myself attempt to practice a less political literary criticism. This is why I am not in post-colonial/globalization/women’s/etc studies. The fact is, though, that my ivory tower of Modernism and close reading is often seen as a political choice in that it is a rejection of those trendier and quite overly political -isms. That is to say, I suppose I am re-inscribing a patriarchal and Euro-centric value system. Sorry.

  13. Danimal says:

    Every times I thinks I’m out, they pulls me back in.

    Olly, I know you’re sitting there in your pure math ivory tower laughing at all us liberal artists, but listen…

    Political bias isn’t just implicated when talking politics. It can set doctrine and weaken adversarial discussion in disciplines that are neither overtly political nor apolitical. History and law, to name a couple close to my heart. Economics is another.

    Because proving a theorem is an utterly apolitical act, it doesn’t matter much if your math department is dominated by bomb-throwing leftists. But if a history department is, it just might give Howard Zinn a PhD. (This is bad.)

  14. Olly says:

    Late to the party; feel free to let this be the capstone, but I wanted to add: this is only a problem if you’re at a university to talk about politics, which I think is a bad thing to do in a university. Some disciplines (pure math being the example I would pick) are near-exclusively practiced in universities; in contrast, political activity does not stem from the academy, and there’s no reason why it should. Academics have valuable specialist knowledge, but this will not invariably apply to the political realm – as they (I mean, we) demonstrate on a fairly regular basis.

  15. AD says:

    What about Wabash?

  16. Timothy says:

    64th, mine is 65. Problem is, Dan, that virtually all private schools also receive large grants from the government. Also, Smith (private, all girls) is notoriously left-liberal. So is Weslayan, Harvard [Hello, Dershowitz], Princeton [Hello, Krugman], so I don’t think private universities are immune to this problem.

  17. Danimal says:


    I got to thinking and I realized there might be a better chance of avoiding the echo chamber at private universities, where professors aren’t in such mortal fear of government budget cuts that they gradually conclude the GOP can only bring harm. Your education, for instance, was Jesuit.

    Anyway, now I think this has been done to death. What is this, the 80th comment?

  18. JS says:


    “I am open to, though unconvinced by, arguments that problem #1 is unavoidable. But it is not as grave as the second problem, which it can, but does not have to, fuel.”

    Exactly. The real issue is preventing academic discourse from becoming, as you’ve said, an echo chamber. A good professor, regardless of political leanings, will do this.

    Ideally, as John Stuart Mill contends, you want a conservative voicing the merits of conservative ideas, but until more conservatives seek careers in academia, students and professors may have to play “devil’s advocate”. And, as I said, good professors already are.

  19. Melissa says:

    All I can say is: Let’s dance!
    Yes, put on your red shoes and dance the blues. This thread needs a little David Bowie.

  20. Danimal says:

    Whoever you are:

    I guess, though, a distinction ought to be drawn between a professor’s self-interested voting habits and his/her commitment to a full and fair exchange of ideas within academia. In life, an academic may pursue happiness (or property). But in scholarship, the goal is truth.

    In other words, conservatives have two concerns:

    1) Conservatives are under-represented numerically in academia; and

    2) Academic discourse itself is overwhelmingly one-sided.

    I am open to, though unconvinced by, arguments that problem #1 is unavoidable. But it is not as grave as the second problem, which it can, but does not have to, fuel. As JS pointed out, his left-leaning professors did an excellent job of encouraging balanced dialogue. I’ve seen this happen all too rarely here at UO. (Where I’ve been since 1997.) (Oh, God, I’ve wasted my life.)

  21. Anonymous says:


    If you want to to study 6th century Hindu poetry or the variations in frog songs or some other obscure unmarketable thing you should vote for the party that promises the most funding for education. It is blind self-interest. I don’t think most academics would claim any particular expertise in political science but they do know what party promises belt tightening and which promises full funding.

    I don’t see how this is any different from your exec’s voting self-interest.

  22. Anonymous says:

  23. JS says:

    I somewhat disagree with your premise. It’s not that business execs or academics favor Republicans or Democrats for whatever reasons. Rather it’s that conservatives are drawn towards business management more than liberals, and liberals are drawn to academia more than conservatives.

    I don’t believe, in the vast majority of cases, there’s any partisan litmus test for either profession, but people with certain interests and certain resumes tend to be drawn to specific professions.

    Conservative and liberal aren’t just political identifications. They’re more than that. A conservative and a liberal are likely to have significantly different worldviews and, to some extent, values. Each will seek out a profession that will lead to fulfillment.

    And I’m definitely not saying that a conservative cannot find fulfillment living and working in an academic environment. Rather, as a general trend, liberals seek that environment out more than conservatives.

  24. Danimal says:


    1. I doubt conservatives will be demanding affirmative action, in the form of a government program, for themselves anytime soon. Better to draw attention to the disparity and try and change it through persuasion. By which I mean, lots of unseemly whining like you’ve been seeing here.

    2. No, it wouldn’t be surprising to find mostly Republicans among defense or energy company execs.
    Business execs like the GOP because it pursues policies they deem favorable to their own self-interest.

    But is it be proper to consider this a parallel to academia? To do so is to say that academics favor Democrats because Democrats pursue policies favorable to academia’s self-interest. (E.g., more gov’t funding of education.)

    The problem with this is academia is not the same as business. Academia’s purpose is not financial success, but the free, open, and vibrant discussion of culture, policy, ideas, etc. Those involved in it shouldn’t arrive at their political outlook based on who is friendliest to their bottom line.

    So I’m not sure your comparison gets us anywhere.

  25. WWB says:

    Wow, i missed a lot in 24 hours.

    All I can say is: Let’s dance!

  26. JS says:

    I’m enjoying this thread. Will I ruin the good mojo if I repost two questions I posted earlier, related to George Will’s article?

    Will conservatives now demand affirmative action in universities for themselves?


    Would it be surprising to find mostly Republicans among defense contractors or energy company executives?

    I’m simply curious about how conservatives feel the alleged “bias” in academia can be neutralized. Backing up, I guess I’m wondering if political bias should even be removed from all professions. If not all, how does one decide which ones should be free from political bias.


  27. Melissa says:

    You’ll notice the decency I had to censor myself. Apologies, AD. Dan: No boobings were bared during this cat fight. Mrrrrrow (less boobs).

  28. Melissa says:

    mmmm. Puddin’. ‘Nana or tapioca, myself, but Landon (13 month old nephew who won’t go to sleep) prefers Jello. Can’t get enough of it.

  29. Danimal says:

    What’d Melissa say? What’d Melissa say? Cat fight! Rrrrrrrwwwrrrr!

  30. AD says:

    Cue the “rrrrrrwwwrrrr catfight” posts. For the record, I prefer pudding (pistachio) to Jello.

    Dear Melissa, my post was very…not serious. I’m so sorry you took it that way. I think that as a staff member, you need to get used to that sort of thing (it is hard at first and goodness knows Ive had my share of freak outsbut over the yearsyou will learn).

    I am actually very disappointed. You see, back in the day, we refrained from the name calling (even non-directly) and would simply one-up each other with witty retorts and proof as to why the other person was wrong.

    You put forth a dare. I took it and you can only non-directly call me a bitch? Thats what people get when you put forth dares? Come on. Im sorry that was the best you could do. At least use the term broad. Im really trying to start to bring that word back into peoples daily vocabularies. I think bitch has really lost its zing.

    There I gousing those quote things again. I think they are as contagious as ellipses.

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