The day after the November election, the UK’s Daily Mirror‘s main headline famously asked, “How can 59,054,087 People be so Dumb?” It was easy to dismiss this “news” headline proclaiming the majority of Americans idiots as mere socialist bad sportsmanship. After all, one suspects that were he around today Josef Stalin would subscribe to the Mirror and use Pravda to wipe his bum.
But that is not to say the Mirror‘s gibe was wholly without sting. It has always bothered conservatives that a great many of America’s so-called intellectuals-college professors, journalists, novelists, Hollywood film moguls, not to mention denizens of the so-called Smart States (New York, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut) claim to be liberal Democrats (if not out-and-out socialists).
Being rather elitist, conservative intellectuals gain little comfort knowing that the GOP base consists of solid, virtuous, middle class folk whom the liberal media like to disparagingly label “rural Americans, regular churchgoers, married families and gun owners.” Though compared to the Democratic Party base — union laborers, local government bureaucrats, and welfare recipients — the GOP base does seem positively enlightened.
BUT ENOUGH ABOUT NASCAR dads and “guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks.” What of thinking men and women? Is it not a dark and bloody lie that most of the educated folk in America are wild, starry-eyed liberals?
Last week’s L.A. Times exit polls showed roughly the same number of GOP voters with college and post-baccalaureate degrees as Democrats (49 percent compared to 50 percent). CNN exit polls showed a slightly different picture. Both the majority of undereducated voters (those without a high school degree) and those who might be called overeducated voters (post-baccalaureate degree or more) went for John Kerry. The majority of every one else (high school degree to college degree) went for Bush. This trend toward more educated voters siding with the GOP coincided with the results of the 2002 national elections in which “Republicans won for the first time in decades among those claiming to have post-graduate degrees. They even captured a majority of women with college or post-graduate degrees.” In CNN exit polls from the 2000 election, both the average Bush and Gore voter fell between “Some College” and “College Graduate.”
As for all these so-called liberal intellectuals, who the hell are they really? Certainly not the vacuous celebrities who attended all those Kerry-Edwards rallies, and included the likes of Hollywood schlockmeisters Michael Moore, Sean Penn, and Tim Robbins, and aging rockers like Bruce Springsteen, Michael Stipe and Puff Daddy, not to mention the masterminds behind Rock the Vote, Chicks Rock/Chicks Vote and Rap the Vote, all wearing their matching “Vote or Die” T-shirts.
Perhaps they are the novelists? Slate online magazine recently asked a sampling of fiction writers, including heavy-weights like John Updike, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathon Franzen, and Russell Banks for their voting preferences. Twenty-six out of 31 said they’d be voting for Kerry, though novelist Jim Lewis, a Kerry supporter, noted, ” I’m not convinced that the political opinions of a novelist are any more significant than anyone else’s.” (To which I would add a hearty Amen, unless we’re talking about Tom Wolfe or Thomas Mallon, novelists who are able to double as expert political commentators.) Novelist Vendela Vida, author of the laughably bad And Now You Can Go: A Novel, and wife of McSweeney’s Dave Eggers, told Slate, “If (John Kerry) doesn’t win, I’ll have to be Canadian for the next four years.” What a coup for Canada.
Perhaps the liberal intellectual survives only within the impenetrable, ivy-covered walls of academia. As for your standard “bucolic college professor,” dressing like a bag lady and carrying around a copy of Marx for Dummies does not necessarily make one an intellectual. I tend to agree with H.L. Mencken’s findings that such pedagogues “have trained themselves to swallow any imaginable fad or folly, and always with enthusiasm. The schools reek with this puerile nonsense.”
THEN TOO I TAKE SOLACE in my familiarity with such nonpareil conservative intellectual giants as Thomas Sowell, George Will, Bill Buckley, Irving Kristol, Milton Friedman, Hilton Kramer, and James Q. Wilson, men unafraid to employ historical research and reason in their scholarship the way liberal intellectuals employ idealism and political correctness in theirs.
I am also reminded of the old saw, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” Liberal billionaires like John Kerry and George Soros prove that there is no biological impediment excluding Democratic voters from being well off, nothing except individual initiative and intelligence. Indeed, most Americans equate wealth with intelligence, and IQ studies repeatedly bear this out. So it should come as no surprise that John Kerry carried the majority of voters that earned below $40,000, but the more economically successful voters easily went for W.
On a personal note, I have lived all my life next door to some of the poorest communities in America: Washington Park, Brooklyn, and Venice, Illinois. Since FDR’s day the Democrats have been running these towns and surrounding counties into the ground, growing fat while these communities grow poorer and more crime-ridden each year, while the rest of the country prospers. And yet the voters continue to turn out each election cycle for the Democrats. Such thinking is typical of the Democratic voter. “What can government do for me?” Such is the brand of intellectualism to which liberalism aspires. Perhaps before the 2008 election Sean Penn, Puff Daddy and Garrison Keillor will bring their dog and pony show to Venice, Illinois, and take a look at what 70 years of Democratic Party rule has done for those folks. Then we’ll see who, if anyone, still feels like rappin’ the vote.
Christopher Orlet is a frequent contributor.