Barney Frank on why white men don’t vote for Democrats

REUTERS/Eric Thayer
Barney Frank believes that blue-collar males blame the Democrats for a great many sins committed by the Republicans.

Barney Frank’s new book, which he promoted Thursday night before a packed auditorium at the University of Minnesota, is titled “Frank,” which is not only his last name but one of the author’s leading characteristics. Frank (the person not the book) retired from Congress in 2013 after 16 terms in the U.S. House representing a suburban Boston district. The presentation was funny and frank (small “f”) with no overarching point, so I’ll just pick out some of the high points.

Frank, the first sitting member of Congress to voluntarily come out as gay, said that prejudice against gays is “on its last legs,” as evidenced by the disasters recently inflicted on politicians in Indiana and Arkansas who tried to play the anti-gay card in the recent brouhaha over so-called religious freedom protection bills.

Those recent cases reminded Frank of the old analysis point that the only way Republicans, with their royalist economic policies, could be competitive with the national electorate was by appealing to social issues — God, guns and gays, as the saying goes. In fact, he said, among white men, the only subgroups among which Democrats win a majority of the vote are gays and Jews. But Frank rejects that old “three Gs” analysis point (except on the guns part, he said) and offered an unexpected analysis.

White working-class males have been losing ground economically since the end of the post-World War II boom. This is at least partly result of the domination of the government — and especially the Republican Party — by the wealthy. But, Frank believes, this white, male, blue-collar population blames the Democrats for the decline in their fortunes because Democrats are seen as the “party of government,” and those workers blame the party of government for not figuring out some way to help end their long slide from prosperity.

If you think the government isn’t helping you, it makes a certain rough sense to blame the “party of government” for your troubles, Frank suggested. But in reality, the Dems have seldom really controlled all branches of the government in recent decades. Frank believes that these blue-collar males blame the Democrats for a great many sins committed by the Republicans. For example, he said, there is a lot of (understandable) blue-collar anger over the big bailouts to Wall Street firms during the crash of 2007-08, and polls suggest that this anger is pointed at Democrats when in fact, Frank said, all of the big bailouts were proposed and initiated by President George W. Bush and his administration.

Cutting government spending

Frank closed his opening remarks with two big ideas for cutting government spending. He believes it would be easy to cut $100 billion a year from military spending without hurting the national defense at all, since much of that spending is left over from World War II and Cold War thinking when the threats (Hitler and the Soviet Union) were completely different from today’s chief threat (terrorism).

“I wish you could fight terrorists with nuclear submarines,” Frank said, “because we have a lot of them and they have none of them.” The military spends billions on programs that have little relevance to today’s threats, he said.

His second big idea for government savings would be to stop spending billions every year to catch, prosecute and incarcerate people for using recreational drugs. Drug use is bad for you but is in no way a threat to the public commensurate with the government money spent combatting it, he said.

After his opening remarks, Frank took questions from U of M political scientist Larry Jacobs and from the audience. A few of those highlights:

Financial reform

Frank was the chief House author of the eponymous Dodd-Frank law that dealt with the aftermath of the 2007-8 crash. Jacobs gave him an opportunity to respond to various criticisms of the law, an argument that will go on for a long time. But for Frank, the key to understanding the cause of the crisis was the practice that swept through Wall Street of bundling and securitizing home mortgages, which enabled banks to issue mortgages without having to care much about whether the mortgagees could afford the loan (since the issuing bank would unload the loan soon after it was issued).

Frank responded to critics who say his reform law was too soft on the banks. He said the law had specific provisions that would end the “too big to fail” system and would put out of business firms that engaged in future reckless conduct. He ended with a complicated, humorous shot at Sarah Palin for this criticism that managed to bring the Affordable Care Act into the discussion as well.

He said:  “Sarah Palin was half right when she said we have death panels. We did have death panels — not for old people but for banks. But for Sarah Palin to be half right is better than her average.”

Death of compromise

Frank referred several times during the evening to the demise of the two parties ability to compromise to get things done and linked it to the change in the TV news environment that enables people on the left and especially on the right to watch news that reinforces all their existing beliefs and gives them the impression that the whole world (except for a few crazy radicals on the other side) agrees with them.

If you think everyone agrees with you, Frank said, you can’t understand why you should have to compromise.

Jacobs asked him about some liberals who criticize him for being too willing to compromise with Republicans. His own attitude, Frank said, is that “being an adult means you have to recognize that you share the world with a whole lot of other people” and you can’t get exactly what you want all the time.

Frank said his approach to compromise is captured by an old Henny Youngman joke. Youngman said that when people asked him “how’s your wife?” he would reply: “Compared to what?” In judging a potential compromise, he said, the key question is not is it perfect but is it better than the status quo.

Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren

Frank supports Hillary Clinton for president. Jacobs asked about those who think Clinton is too moderate, too cozy with Wall Street — especially compared to the liberal firebrand Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Frank replied with a rhetorical question: “On what issues do they differ?” He said Clinton’s position on pretty much every domestic issue is acceptably liberal and pretty much the same as Warren’s.

Stakes of 2016

“The health care bill, climate change, financial reform, whether or not there’s any reversal of the Supreme Court decision that puts money all over the system, abortion, will all be decided by the 2016 elections, presidential and other. This is a very consequential time,” Frank said.

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Comments (67)

  1. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 04/10/2015 - 11:00 am.

    In other words…

    White males are ignorant.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 04/10/2015 - 11:46 am.

    It’s still relevant

    …I believe – maybe even moreso now, given the current Governor of the state – to read “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” That would explain at least some of the self-defeating allegiance of many working-class whites (Since money is how we assign social rank in this culture, I qualify as a member of the group myself) to policies specifically designed to do them harm.

    And, as long as I’m recommending reading about working-class whites, let me add to the list, “Deer Hunting With Jesus,” which gets us off the prairies and wheat fields of Kansas and into the little hollows and river valleys of West Virginia. Joe Bageant is more specific about situations than Thomas Frank, but both are useful explorations of that misplaced allegiance to the party of the delusionally-wealthy.

    Barney Frank has always struck me as both funny and frank (with the small “f”), which are useful traits for a politician. His point about nuclear submarines is certainly relevant.

  3. Submitted by Lynnell Mickelsen on 04/10/2015 - 12:56 pm.

    I love Frank’s two big ideas to save money

    1) Have a sensible military budget. And what a great quote: ““I wish you could fight terrorists with nuclear submarines,” Frank said, “because we have a lot of them and they have none of them.” The military spends billions on programs that have little relevance to today’s threats, he said.

    2) Stop spending billions every year to catch, prosecute and incarcerate people for using recreational drugs. Drug use is bad for you but is in no way a threat to the public commensurate with the government money spent combatting it, he said.

    I’d vote for any politician who would openly advocate and support these two things!

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/10/2015 - 02:45 pm.

    Some notes about white people

    Most veterans are white. Most veterans vote republican.
    Most members of the armed forces are white. Most vote republican.
    Most NRA members are white. Most vote republican.
    Most farmers are white. Most vote republican.
    Most white people are Christian.
    Most Christians vote republican.
    Most married, white, Christians vote republican.

    Whites made up 75 percent of the 2014 electorate and voted for Republican House candidates by a 24-point margin, 62-38, the exact same margin by which they supported Republican candidates in the 2010 midterms.

    The white vote in the years since 1992 has become consistently more committed to Republican candidates. Mitt Romney carried whites by a 20-point margin, 59-39, larger than either John McCain, 12 points, or George W. Bush, 17 points.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/10/2015 - 05:16 pm.

      How do you do

      President Romney.

      Some numbers from the 2012 Demographic Summary:
      “The percentage of Active Duty members who identify themselves as a minority is greater in 2012
      than it was in 1995 (from 10.5% of officers and 28.2% of enlisted members in 1995 to 21.9% of
      officers and 31.6% of enlisted members in 2012). The overall ratio of minority officers (52,911)
      to minority enlisted personnel (367,484) is one minority officer for every 6.9 minority enlisted
      To conform to the latest Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directives,
      Hispanic is not considered a minority race designation and is analyzed separately as an
      ethnicity. Overall, 11.3 percent of the DoD Active Duty force is of Hispanic ethnicity. ”

      Enjoy it while you can.

    • Submitted by Steve Hoffman on 04/10/2015 - 06:04 pm.

      White demographic

      Fortunately I’m none of those things, except that I’m an old white guy. And a Democrat. The less guns and religion and “trickle-down economics” in my world, the better. I’ve had it with these “small government” hypocrites.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/10/2015 - 07:52 pm.

      DT Intersting:

      Here is why:
      Got a brother that fits your definition above near 100%. Per another article below: The standard response from said brother when discussing political logical or “principles” etc. “I don’t want to talk about it,” because: ” I don’t want you to change my mind or position” Right wrong or otherwise the quote goes “Ignorance is bliss”
      Point being: Just because …… doesn’t make it right! your logic is “faulty”

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/11/2015 - 01:13 pm.

      On the other hand, I’m a white Christian

      (assuming that as a non-evangelical, I could still qualify as a Christian among the relatively new sects branded as evangelical or fundamentalist) who finds current Republican economic and political policies to be the opposite of what Jesus taught and also sees many instances in which right-wingers distort or misquote the Bible in order to justify their policies.

      For example, I have seen right-wing Christians say that God is anti-union because John the Baptist told the Roman soldiers that they should be content with their wages. But a look at the context shows that he was scolding the soldiers because they were acting like a criminal gang in shaking down civilians for money. He said nothing about whether they should organize for a better wage scale in the Roman army.

      Another right-winger based his libertarian philosophy on the verse “Am I not allowed to do what I please with what is mine?” from the Parable of the Vineyard. The trouble is that the parable is not about money at all. The money (workers who worked all day are paid the same as workers hired an hour before quitting time) stands in for the status of believers in the Kingdom of God. The point of the parable is that life-long believers have no higher status than late-life converts.

      “The poor you will always have with you,” a quote from the story of the woman who anointed Jesus’ feet, is not a recommendation to make sure that some people are always poor. It is a warning not to use the poor as an excuse for your personal agenda.

      “He who does not work shall not eat” is not a recommendation to starve the unemployed. Paul is addressing a problem that occurred in both the COMMUNAL society of early Christians and in the early English settlement at Jamestown: people of with wealth or titles considering themselves too high and mighty to work for the good of the community.

      I cannot in good conscience vote for a party whose members go around loudly declaring themselves to be Christians while violating the spirit of Christ’s message–read the Gospels in quick succession, and you will see that his most frequent condemnations are against greed–and enabling the world’s greatest evils (preferring violent solutions to problems in the form of more military intervention and more private gun ownership, making life easier for the already affluent while making it more difficult for the poor, destroying the environment that all life depends on, and so on).

      • Submitted by Jon Lord on 04/12/2015 - 11:28 am.

        Oh yes

        Do I ever agree with what you’ve just wrote. No Christian should ever be ‘against’ the poor, and ‘for’ the wealthy. It’s not a part of Christ’s message. There is a horrible tendency for republican’s to misquote the Bible to prove their point(s). Evangelical’s do it if they are republican in their outlook and they should know better (if they read the bible at all). But like a republican evangelical family member of mine says “I can continue to do the same sin every day as long as I pray about it at night!” because Christ died for our sins. In reality, that’s not how it works. His interpretation and those who think like him simply allows them to continue to cheat, lie, hate, etc, all they want to while saying they are Christians. If one tries to point out to them their errors they make the claim they are the ‘true Christians’ then go straight to lala land from that point on. (la-la-la-la-la and so on)

  5. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/10/2015 - 03:08 pm.

    I forgot a couple

    Despite the so-called “gender gap,” that only applies to single women. Most married women vote republican.

    And most entrepreneurs and small-business people are white and most vote republican.

    “Sixty-one percent of small business owners plan to vote for the Republican challenger, more than double the 26 percent who say they will vote for President Obama,”

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/10/2015 - 05:19 pm.

      Under 500

      That is the definition of a ‘small business’.
      If you used a definition that most people would find reasonable (say less than 100 employees) the numbers would look different.

      Final comment: so what?
      You’ve given a nice example of what can be done with ‘cherry picking’.

  6. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/10/2015 - 06:11 pm.

    What’s the matter with Wisconsin?. . .

    Frank’s insight into why white men vote Republican undoubtedly has considerable validity, coming from a politician with many years of experience in dealing with the voting public. But I think politicians also tend to give more credit to people’s rationalizations to why they vote as they do than they really deserve.

    One bit of knowledge I got from a sociology class in college many years ago is that people generally tend to follow the voting habits of their parents. I think there were other insights with that such as people tending to be influenced generally in their voting and their political or other beliefs and attitudes not by what they think themselves but what they think other people think and what they ought to think. Notwithstanding their self-image as libertarian rugged individualists, most Americans are highly conventional and conformist in their beliefs and attitudes. They either believe what they think other people believe or they keep it to themselves and hide it. In my experience, politics and religion are generally taboo subjects of daily conversation except among people whom you know share your beliefs. American do not like to discuss policy or political subjects (or religious subjects) in any theoretical, academic or abstract sense. It’s bad form to disagree especially when you are in a social setting as at your own or somebody else’s home to bring up subjects that risk argument and disagreement.

    Is it any wonder that a society that discourages any disagreement or expression of individual thinking, especially critical thought, and considers sharing one’s individual thinking as unsocial or antisocial is going to have a large number of people who vote Republican? Especially white men, who still form the dominant sex/race/class in this culture, as Mr. Tester points out. I dare say a lot of white men don’t have any good reason to vote as they do except they believe they are voting like other white men. Who are right because they think they are right. As the joke goes: you might be able to tell if a white man is a Republican, but you can’t tell him much.

  7. Submitted by Michael Hess on 04/10/2015 - 08:53 pm.

    other point?

    Democrats are generally associated with programs like affirmative action and other government programs to address racial disparities. So if as Mr Frank says these middle class white males have been loosing ground , being blamed for the lack of progress on equality issues by democrats and feeling targeted by government programs to address the disparities could also push them Republican.

  8. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/10/2015 - 08:55 pm.

    Some helpful links

    I think the following links show that Democrats are a party of rich, not Republicans.–election.html,—-and-then-caught-up-fast-193609956.html.

    This link shows that Democrats controlled all three branches of government much more often than Republicans: (in fact, 11 times vs. Republicans’ 2 times since 1945)

    And this link shows what Democrats’ problem is:

    And this link may help see where the money may be saved:

    Now I will add a few comments to the above facts.
    So there is an anger directed at Democrats for government bailout which was, in fact, Bush’s idea? OK but then Democrats should not be taking credit for saving economy from disaster which they always do..

    It is also funny that Mr. Frank was blaming banks for lending too eagerly. I believe it was Fannie and Freddie that gave away mortgages so easily because government told them so… And who ended up paying for those two?

    Also, interestingly, I have read that unmarried women (i.e. idealistic and inexperienced) vote Democratic while married women (i.e. those who know life better) vote Republicans. I wonder why…

    Mr. Kingstad, will you please explain to me why most liberals I challenge to discuss the issues do not want to do that? Will you please explain to me why it is mostly liberal students who do not want to hear conservative points of view on campuses?

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/10/2015 - 11:46 pm.

      Conservative points of view

      I hope your question doesn’t reflect what “liberals” do on Minnpost.

      But you ask two good questions. Why don’t liberals want to debate conservatives on “the issues”? Maybe it has something to do with what people think define the issues that make them conservative or liberal. From my experience, many “liberals” don’t want to get into nasty personal, go-nowhere arguments with people who label themselves “conservatives”. I think Barney Frank hit the nail on the head: many “conservatives” have aligned themselves with other policies that are antithetical with their own social-economic interests because of the “three G’s”: God, guns and gays, with God covering things like abortion and gay rights. I would go so far as to say that many people stopped being Democrats or what they think is “liberal” in the North because of their feeling that the Democratic Party was too accommodating of the “murderers” (of course when pressed that doesn’t include mothers who have abortions; it only includes doctors or health care professionals or politicians who believe it should be the mother’s decision with her doctor).

      So let’s be “frank” about what the “conservative point of view” really is when one complains about not finding people wiling to debate “the issues.” I stopped long ago trying to reason with people who labeled themselves “pro-life”. I don’t care to discuss it because it is pointless. They can’t convince me it’s wrong and I can’t convince them it’s futile to try to make something illegal when what they’re going to do they’ll do anyway but to their own unnecessary harm. People tend to come to the “pro-choice” position in their own time if at all. It has permanently poisoned political discussion in this country as far as I’m concerned. But I’m defined as a “liberal” because I don’t buy the GOP/Right wing view that abortion needs to be made illegal. Even though all the evidence shows that illegal abortions only makes abortions unsafe and does nothing to stop women who are to determined to have an abortion from having one.

      Same goes for the gun issues. Handguns and semi-automatic weapons ought to be illegal in my opinion and confiscated. Period. (Not all guns please note). It’s now a “second amendment right” which only means people who hold the irrational view that arming the masses and schoolchildren with handguns and AK-47’s will somehow make people behave more civilly toward each other. Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, any notion of making the possession of handguns or semi-automatic weapons like AK-7’s is a political nonstarter. “Too liberal.”

      Many people align themselves as “liberal” or “conservative” with so-called “hot button issues” like these so any discussion with anyone who’s taken a “conservative” point of view is automatically signalling where they stand on the “hot-button issues” so many liberals, including me, will prefer to take a pass rather than get sidelined into a shouting match. I’d guess the same is probably true for a lot of people who think of themselves as conservatives too.

      Why do mostly liberal students not want to hear conservative points of view on campus? I’m not sure what you say is true. From what I’ve heard, students in are generally more conservative than they were in my day. FYI, ROTC’s were forced off of many colleges campuses in the 1960’s because pf the Vietnam War. I think the ROTC’s have managed to get back onto college campuses. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing because many students in college would not be there today if not for ROTC and other benefits associated with the military. Maybe that’s not a liberal/conservative issue any more. But I do think college students in general tend to be more conservative in years past. In any event, I don’t think there should be any cause for concern among Republicans or conservatives in general. If the experience with the young people of my “baby boom” generation proves anything, it is that they are being molded into tomorrow’s Republicans notwithstanding their current rhetoric.

      But to answer the question: if what you mean is that liberal college students challenge and disagree with speakers whom they believe are delivering a conservative line which they disagree with, why is that bad? If you mean liberal college students are successfully suppressing opposing points of view by the use of official power, I think that is simply not true.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/11/2015 - 12:02 pm.

        Here is the problem

        Mr. Kingstad, my question does not apply to Minnpost commenters who are not avoiding a discussion but sometime some of them ignore the questions asked and change the topic.

        Actually, Mr. Frank disagreed with the three “G’s” theory but I guess it is widely accepted… and wrong. And for sure it is not applicable to independents like me and a lot of white men are independent. I never suggest arguing about any of those “G” topics since the first one is a matter of faith, the second one has a solution clearly in the middle of the issue and the third one is really not that important (even though I wonder why gay marriage is OK but polygamy is not). Instead, I think we should debate security, foreign policy, racial relations, political correctness, climate, education, elections, economy, immigration, etc. and that is what liberals still do not want to discuss. Why?

        Statistically, about almost 90% of college professors are left leaning (they were the radical students in the 60’s) and I guess this holds true for school teachers as well. Most college students are also liberal based on my experience (which is understandable considering who teaches them). In general, younger people are more liberal than older generations (that actually brought Obama to power). It is true that on average as young people get older, marry, have kids, and learn life they get more conservative but that is a different topic.

        Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with students challenging speakers they disagree with. What is wrong though is when they demand that colleges disinvite conservative speakers, when they shout the conservative speakers out, when they throw cakes and eggs at them. If you read the internet, there are plenty of examples of that while this never happens to liberal speakers. In fact, it is so bad, that Michael Bloomberg told Harvard graduates not to do it So again, why is this a problem?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/11/2015 - 05:01 pm.

          Please support your statement

          that “almost 90% of college professors are left leaning”.
          It may be true that the majority of professors in the liberal arts and social sciences lean to the left (they carry their books in their left hands), but if you wander over to the business school, or engineering, you will find the opposite.
          Which colleges are you using as you exemplars? I assume that you have attended them as student or teacher so that you are personally acquainted with many students and faculty.

          And of course most professors who were sixties radicals have reached retirement age by now.

          And when you say
          “….we should debate security, foreign policy, racial relations, political correctness, climate, education, elections, economy, immigration, etc. and that is what liberals still do not want to discuss.”
          you are simply wrong. You’ll find these issues discussed in most liberal media; I will admit there may be some fringe Web sites and mags that don’t, but I’m not personally aware of them. They would be very much niche operations.

        • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/11/2015 - 09:08 pm.

          Issues for debate

          The “Three G’s” I take to mean the “hot button topics” that really polarize opinions and discussion. Apparently Barney Frank and I do disagree that abortion or other religious issues are “hot button issues”. I should have read more carefully.

          As to your comment about why liberals won’t discuss matters of security, foreign policy, etc.,: why would they even be issues if liberals did not discuss or debate them? If you mean that liberals don’t engage you personally in discussing these issues, I don’t know. That may be a personal matter, e.g. maybe the individuals you try to engage on these matters feel intimidated or inadequately informed. People don’t like to look foolish.We don’t have a lot of forums for discussions or debate in this country. I think there used to be but they don;’t exist any more. We are all poorer for it in my opinion.

          On the final point of “disinviting” speakers from college campuses and throwing eggs and cakes at them when they show up. You say you have plenty of examples of this never happening to liberal speakers. I’m sure you do. Generally, college campuses have been welcome places for people with UNpopular ideas to express them. What you are saying is that people who have popular conservative speeches to make should be able to use the platforms of college campuses to give legitimacy to their crank ideas. But my response would be that the right has created “conservative colleges” where there would never be any “liberal” speaker to “disinvite” in the first place. Are you suggesting that a “conservative college” like Jerry Falwell’s “Liberty University” would ever countenance a speaker like Noam Chomsky, Elizabeth Warren or or even Hillary Clinton to give a speech at that college?

          So are we talking about a Nazis marching in Skokie, Illinois or about giving right wing cranks legitimacy by allowing them a college campus platform platform to spew objectionable and offensive ideas? I think someone like Noam Chomsky would say it’s wrong to deny the crank their platform just as it is to deny a permit to Nazis marching in Skokie. But that’s just a guess. My view is that it’s not anti-speech but pro-free speech to protest and object to people making controversial speeches on college campuses or certain othr places. Do I condone throwing eggs and cake at such a person. Technically, that is assault so of course I do not condone such conduct. But the U of M announces that it has invited Condi Rice to make a speech at Northrup Hall, why is not also a free speech right for people to bring attention to the U of M to their objections by opposing her speech there, knowing that it’s unlikely the administration who allowed her speech in the first place will reverse their decision?

          I don’t think it’s a problem at all. Am I intolerant If I refuse to listen to one more pro-lifer nut job harangue about why I’m responsible for the “Holocaust of the unborn” because I’m pro-choice?

        • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/12/2015 - 10:31 am.

          “Liberal” vs. “Conservative”

          Instead, I think we should debate security, foreign policy, racial relations, political correctness, climate, education, elections, economy, immigration, etc. and that is what liberals still do not want to discuss. Why?

          And what in blazes do you think we are doing here and what Obama has done? Your commenting out of both sides of your key board.

          And you call your self independent?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/11/2015 - 09:58 am.


      These links are mostly statements of opinions, not facts.
      One fact:
      With the possible exception of finance, large corporations donate far more to Republicans than to Democrats. Of course, since Citizens United, it’s harder to track who provides financial support for whom. Since CU was passed by Republican appointee justices, it’s a reasonable conclusion who stands to benefit.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/11/2015 - 01:31 pm.

      I will tell you why unmarried women are more likely to vote D

      Most married women have children, and as such, some are inclined to think about the welfare of their own children above all else, never mind the rest of society. If their husband has a good job, and their own children are healthy and attending good schools, then all is right with the world.

      Unmarried women cannot afford such illusions. Whether they have children or not, there is no second paycheck to fall back on. They often work in the helping professions, such as teaching or social work or nursing, so they are forced to confront the ills of our society on a daily basis. They have more time to volunteer for charitable and other causes.

      I’m unmarried, and I used to be conservative. That was before I had a series of life experiences and learned that the conservative idea of doing the right thing and prospering was a lie. I and many of my friends did everything right according to society’s expectations and still ended up struggling. And I think the reason that the right-wing media are so insistent that their audiences trust only right-wing media is that they know that once there is leakage in the right-wing media bubble, the whole elaborate mythology is going to crack.

      I started by learning about the world, living overseas, and doubting American foreign policy. This led me to wonder why our foreign policy is as it is, which in turn led me to learn about corporate dominance of our government. Then I got out of school during the Reagan recession and spent three years surviving on a combination of adjunct teaching jobs and industrial and clerical temp jobs. That period disabused me of any notions of the virtues or efficiencies of the private sector, because all the places I worked were callous about the physical and mental well-being of their employees and/or penny wise and pound foolish in their relentless efforts to “cut costs.”

      A few years later, I began encountering people over the age of fifty whose employers had thrown them onto the scrap heap and who never worked full time again. I traveled some more and started my own business. I volunteered in programs that served those on the margins of society.

      It is impossible to have these experiences and come out believing that unfettered capitalism is the ideal economic system or that the United States should be the biggest bruiser of an enforcer on the planet. This doesn’t mean that I would rather live in North Korea–there are points between North Korea and Somalia, you know–but I do wish that the Democrats had the courage to be more socialist in the Scandinavian sense. Until then, I am voting more against the Republicans than for the Democrats.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/11/2015 - 05:48 pm.

        Life as it is

        Mr. Brandon, you may want to check the definition of a word “fact” because except the article discussing Democrats’ attitude towards people, all the rest of the links are purely factual.

        Ms. Sandness, on one account you are probably right: unmarried women vote Democrats because they see it as a way to help everyone with someone else’s money while married women figure out that only responsible people should be helped. But it is easy to be generous at someone else’s expense… Plus unmarried women do not really know how the world works (kids, husbands, work, security, house, etc.) By the way, why do you think unmarried women work more in helping professions than married ones? There are hardly any single women among my son’s teachers…

        Since you said that “the right-wing media are so insistent that their audiences trust only right-wing media,” I will ask you the same question I asked Mr. Kingstad: Why are liberals so reluctant to discuss real issues?

        No one says that “unfettered capitalism is the ideal economic system” but it is definitely better than socialism. As for your ideal of Scandinavian countries, I hope you realize that none of them takes care of their own defense – they all rely on American military power. In addition, they are all homogenous and do not need to deal with immigration. That is why they have survived until now in their current form but even that is cracking now…

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/11/2015 - 06:27 pm.


          Tell that to the pilots of the Swedish fighters tracking Russian bombers.
          And look up the topic of ‘guest workers’ in Northern European countries. Some of them have been there for several generations now.

          And I’ll let the readers follow your links and decide what is ‘factual’.
          Trivially, it is a fact that someone has stated an opinion.
          And I’d still like to know which college faculty you are basing your opinions on.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2015 - 12:06 pm.

          One definition

          of “fact” is that
          it is a statement that is independently verifiable.

        • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/12/2015 - 02:43 pm.

          Right, Mr. Gutman

          I’ve lived on both coasts and in Japan, I have a graduate degree from an Ivy League university (in a non-political subject area), I’ve worked as both a clerical and industrial temp and in retail, I’ve traveled to 45 states and 14 foreign countries, I’ve volunteered for political campaigns, and I’ve been successfully self-employed for 21 years, and just because I’m not married and don’t have children, I don’t know how the world works?

          If it satisfies your ego to think that, go right ahead.

        • Submitted by jason myron on 04/13/2015 - 03:46 pm.


          “unmarried women do not really know how the world works (kids, husbands, work, security, house, etc.) ” Really? I suppose misogyny, along with racism, is another thing that you feel doesn’t exist anymore? How about you mansplain this piece of wisdom for us?

  9. Submitted by Joe Musich on 04/10/2015 - 11:43 pm.

    Barney …

    Frank is a national treasure, gifted, quick witted and forthcoming. Someone give him a talk show.

  10. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/11/2015 - 08:24 am.

    Mr. Tester clearly lays out the “whites–first and forever” reality of the Republican party. This is no more than the continuation of the core strand of the party from the days of the big flip of the two parties that occurred in the desegregation days. The issues and attitudes of today have clear lineage back to those days, when people not like us were supposed to become people like us.

    Damn that big gubmint. Drown it in a bathtub, except for those parts that fight furriners. Be prepared for the coming battle…

    Is it any wonder why it is possible to win elections simply by not being Republican.?

    Is it any wonder why discussions as difficult? Change is seen as existential threat to the way things are (naturally!) and as diminishing the role of the white Republicans, or more plainly, whites.

  11. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 04/11/2015 - 09:08 am.

    The point is, it’s not about the money

    Liberals who keep deluding themselves into thinking that the republican party is the party of the rich and republican policies are only for the rich, etc., should notice at some point that that meme is not working.

    The “party of the rich” argument has been used because democrats know that a significant portion of their supporters are envious people. They hate the rich and would like nothing more than to confiscate their wealth and redistribute it to the nation’s “working families.” And they’re genuinely confused and can’t understand why everyone, especially working class people, don’t feel the same way.

    I’ve always been amused by the people who are as confused as Thomas Frank and his book, “What’s Wrong with Kansas?” in which he says the state “espouses economic policies that do not benefit the majority of people in the state.” It’s not about the money, Mr. Frank. It’s always been about the culture.

    In fact, it’s always been a source of my confusion why more black and Hispanic Christians don’t vote republican instead of the party that mocks their belief systems. Or why more blacks and Hispanics don’t vote for the party that respects their right to defend themselves and their families with firearms instead of the party who would rather they didn’t. Then again, neither of those reasons have anything to do with “who gets what.”

    • Submitted by Neal Rovick on 04/11/2015 - 05:00 pm.

      I agree–it’s fundamentally not the party of the rich–what it is mainly is a collection of issues that are do-or-die for the majority of people in the party. There may or may not be much issue over-lap between individuals and their driving issues, but they are banded together to try to achieve together.

      What has happened is that the party of wealth has glommed on to the back of the Republican party, cynically adopted the positions of the party, but uses the energy devoted to all of those god, guns, gay, gubmint issues into propelling their wealth issues forward.

      There is no large viable natural voting constituency for the main issues of the wealthy, but through clever melding of issues, the tradeoff and conflation of money issues and money with the social issues, the energy of the large vote mass of the little people in the defense of big money. The melding of the weath and social issues has been what has kept the Republican party viable.

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/11/2015 - 05:51 pm.

      And in my experience

      The republican party understands that’s its base is imbued with an extraordinary level of arrogance, such that they simply cannot fathom why someone might think in a way other than their own. Whilst trading insults is cathartic, perhaps you might find a less tired argument than “We’re right and your wrong, period.”

  12. Submitted by John Appelen on 04/11/2015 - 04:19 pm.

    Unfettered Capitalism

    Now you are kidding, right?
    Society / Gov’t collects and spends ~38% of our national GDP.

    That seems like quite a bit of control… I am always amazed when people want to give more control to the collective. Just curious, what do you think is the correct number? 50%? 60%? More?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2015 - 12:45 pm.

      Fetters and numbers

      You’ll find some at:

      Social Security and medical care account for about half of the Federal budget.
      ‘Defense’ another 18%.
      These are the main item. Which specific programs would you suggest cutting?
      Are you willing to voluntarily forgo Social Security and Medicare?

  13. Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/11/2015 - 05:08 pm.

    Haves and Have Nots

    In many ways the issue can be reduced to the conflict between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

    Traditionally, the Republicans have been the party of those who believe that they are doing well and are afraid of someone taking away their privileges.
    The Democrats have been more the party of the disadvantaged; those who feel that they have been denied equal access to the privileges of our society (minorities and immigrants are the best examples).

    That’s why to win elections Republicans must convince the electorate that the majority of the have more to lose than to gain from changes in the status quo. I have seen statistics that the majority of Americans believe that either they are earning more than the average, or will eventually do so.

    This is of course an oversimplification; for many reasons individuals can run against type, but it does account for much of the difference between the positions of the parties.

  14. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/11/2015 - 10:38 pm.

    Liberals and conservatives

    Mr. Brandon, can you ever admit that you may be wrong? For example, my first link showed the US Census Bureau’s statistics – what may be more factual than that?

    Nordic countries spend 1% to 1.4% for defense vs. 3.8% US the US spends They do not have nuclear weapons and entire Europe could not handle Yugoslavia or Libya.
    Immigration population in Scandinavian countries varies from 5% in Finland to 15% in Sweden and half of those immigrants are from Europe (and Sweden is starting to have troubles)

    As for what colleges, I meant all of them: and Ivy League in particular.

    Can you point out where those important topics are discussed in the liberal media? I mean discussed with opposite views presented, not saying the same thing over and over again… But I was not actually talking about the media but about rank and file liberals I tried to engage …

    I also want a clarification what you mean by “traditionally” and since when the Democratic party became a party of the minorities considering that Senator Byrd used to belong to the KKK and the Southern Democrats were dead set against civil rights laws

    Mr. Haas, it is pretty clear that some liberals on this website adopted “We’re right and your wrong, period” position – just see my conversation above with Mr. Brandon when he doesn’t want to accept that 2×2 is 4 because it comes from a conservative. Have your read my links?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2015 - 10:23 am.

      Your first link

      is not to the Census Bureau, it’s to commentary based on numbers attributed to the Census Bureau.
      I agree that the Nordic countries are not spending (I’m tempted to say wasting) money on F-35s (purchased before they were tested; see:, nor on nuclear arsenals. One might argue that they are spending money on defense, not offense.

      The article on faculty politics you cited was published in an admittedly conservative journal:
      ” The study appears in the March issue of the Forum, an online political science journal. It was funded by the Randolph Foundation, a right-leaning group that has given grants to such conservative organizations as the Independent Women’s Forum and Americans for Tax Reform. ”

      As someone who attended Ivy League and Big ten universities, this does not agree with my first hand experience.
      Most faculty in American universities teach at unionized public institutions (like the one where I taught for 40 years) — contracts forbid any political affiliation requirements. There may be some self selection, but as I indicated, this varies from field to field.

      I’m not sure what you define as ‘liberal media’ (exemplars?).
      I read things like the New Yorker and the New York Times. You’ll find free range discussions in both of these publications.

      In the Reconstruction South, whites were often a minority; certainly rich former slave owners were.
      This is history. The Republicans were the party of Lincoln; the Democrats were formed (replacing the Whig party) to oppose him.

      And to give you some more rhetorical fuel, 2+2=4 is true in Euclidean geometries;; there are other mathematics in which it is not true. Again, it’s how narrow your perspective is.

  15. Submitted by Peder DeFor on 04/12/2015 - 08:39 am.

    Frank and Conservatives

    Being someone of a conservative bent, someone who talks to other conservatives and a bunch of white men, I can tell you that Barney Frank has no idea what he’s talking about. This shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, how much time do you think Frank really spends in thoughtful conversation with white male conservatives? (Or, if this helps the train of thought, do you think that Michelle Bachmann has a strong grip on why liberals think and vote the way they do?)

    “Frank referred several times during the evening to the demise of the two parties ability to compromise to get things done and linked it to the change in the TV news environment that enables people on the left and especially on the right to watch news that reinforces all their existing beliefs and gives them the impression that the whole world (except for a few crazy radicals on the other side) agrees with them.”

    My experience is that it’s much harder for those on the right to stay away from arguments on the left than vice versa. Popular culture (TV shows, movies, pop music, checkout aisle magazines) are much more likely to proceed from left wing sources and actively argue against right wing ideas. If a liberal avoids FOX news, country music, talk radio and explicit right wing magazines like National Review, do they encounter any conservative thinking at all?

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2015 - 12:05 pm.


      Do you consider Ross Douthat of the NYT editorial board to be a conservative (he does)?

    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/12/2015 - 03:06 pm.

      Proceed from left wing sources

      Such as? Have you checked the ownership records for the “vast left wing conspiracy”? There’s a reason liberals scoff when you claim that the media is liberally biased. The mind reels to think how conservatives would react if actual liberal media enjoyed the level of cultural penetration and easy access to public edifice that staunchly right wing media does. Pedor, if you’d be so kind, I have a homework assignment for you. Take a drive, let’s say 100 miles out from the twin cities in any direction. Turn on the radio, pick up whatever newspaper you can find, turn on the broadcast TV. Basically do everything that you can,for the most nominal fee you are able, to find out news about the world should you find yourself stranded in such a locale. Better yet get away from the interstates where the mobile coverage gets spotty. Count how many of the sources you find with a ” bias” one way or the other. Take some time to ponder how your viewpoint could be so spectacularly inaccurate for such broad swaths of country.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2015 - 05:03 pm.

        I’ve done it

        Mr. Haas, I live 150 miles out of the Twin Cities so I can do this experiment without driving anywhere thus sparing Mr. Defor some travel expenses. So here we go: to the best of my knowledge, the local TV has no political coverage and neither does the local radio station; the local paper is about evenhanded. However, if you go to a city larger than mine, let’s say Rochester or St. Cloud, that will change and the local newspaper will be more to the left. But the main thing is people in the Twin Cities do not have access to any of that (unless they make a huge effort to find it) while people in the country have NPR for the radio, all Twin Cities newspapers to subscribe to, and all the national channels on TV – and almost all of those national things are left leaning. And of course we all know that most people live in the larger urban areas anyway… So maybe it is not such a myth about liberal media…

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 04/12/2015 - 07:00 pm.

          as usual

          I suspect your definition of liberal is a bit suspect, considering I have yet to encounter a location in which I cannot access el rushbo et al on usually more than a few stations. I grew up near Eau Claire Wisconsin, a city of similar size and composition to those you mention, even a large Mayo clinic presence as well. Large college population like many smaller cities round these parts. Its local daily has an editorial board so conservative as to be comical. Its humorous to read letters to the editors from strident liberal voices juxtaposed with canned editorial content from the likes of Cal Thomas. Your examples are simply not true, at least in every similar personal experience I have had in many years of living and traversing the more out of the way places of the world. A final point, if we only need worry about the populated places when pondering bias, that a little right wing bias out in the sticks is nothing concern ourselves with, could you explain the republican state legislative strategy to take advantage of that bias? I suppose I should ignore that too?

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2015 - 10:41 pm.

            Don’t kill the messenger

            Mr. Haas, Rush is available everywhere and we were talking about local stuff in rural Minnesota. Of course, everything I say is suspect for you (how about being open to others’ point of view?) but the facts are the facts. Maybe when you grew up in Wisconsin it was different – I have no idea – but now it is the way I am telling you it is. I can assure you that America has changed in the last 20 years – even I can see it. You suggested a challenge, I explained to you how it is, and now you are saying it is not true because you don’t like the reality? By the way, I can say that Republicans are not using rural bias but rather rural common sense – how does that sound? And remember that 2/3? 3/4? of Minnesota population live in large cities leaning left – that is why Minnesota always votes Democratic.

        • Submitted by Dan Landherr on 04/13/2015 - 08:59 am.

          I lived 20 years in Rochester

          The Post-Bulletin is anything but leftist

          • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2015 - 09:32 am.

            Same for the Mankato Free Press

            OF course like most local newspapers these days it’s owned by a large corporate combine.

    • Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 04/12/2015 - 08:19 pm.

      Does Barney Frank know what he’s talking about?

      “How much time time does Barney Frank really spend in thoughtful conversation with white male conservatives?”

      Is that a serious question? How much time would you think a Democratic somewhat left leaning member of Congress would have spent in “thoughtful conversation” with white male conservatives, given that Congress is dominated by white male conservatives. Maybe I missed your point.

      As for encountering “conservative thinking”, I have to agree with you. There’s really not much out there that represents “conservative thinking”. In fact, I have a hard time myself finding “conservative thinking” that I wonder if it really is “thinking” we’re really talking about. I’ve encountered a great deal of “conservative thinking” represented by FOX News, the National Review? Is that all there is to “conservative thinking”? On the other hand, you’re right, there’s a lot of leftish argument in the popular media AGAINST the “right wing.”

      My take is that “right wing thinking” is very shallow if it exists at all. I’d differentiate “right wing” or “conservative thinking” from “right wing influence” which is exerted through money under the table or sub rosa “dark money” whether paid indirectly to “independent groups” or directly as lobbying or bribes. Money, as we know, does speak and most of us don’t know it’s language. It pays well enough to the right wing spin doctors to deliver a message that passes for “thinking” but fails to bear close analysis. The “left” these days is anybody that doesn’t tow the right-wing line or “right wing thinking.”

      • Submitted by Peder DeFor on 04/13/2015 - 09:46 am.

        Conservative Thinking

        If you don’t think that right wing thinking exists, or is very shallow, then you just might not be an expert on the motivation of Republican voters either. I suspect that Barney Frank falls into the same category.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2015 - 01:46 pm.

      Barney Frank and Ron Paul

      Google on it and you’ll see that Barney Frank does talk to conservatives; even works with them.

  16. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2015 - 01:40 pm.

    Mr. Brandon, the first link was not a commentary – it just listed the income information of the districts and who people in those districts elected – pure facts. I do not want to debate here what is defense and what is offense but simply repeat that being able to spend little on defense because of American umbrella enables Nordic countries to finance its otherwise unsustainable welfare system. If America were spending 1% of its GDP on defense, can you imagine what it could do at home? But we can’t because the world is not as nice as liberals want us to believe it is.

    You can dismiss the research about colleges all you want but that is the way it is – here are more for you and and .

    Sure, there are universes where 2×2 is not 4 and objects fall up and so on. And obviously if I write this in Russian, it would look differently and you would not understand. But we live in this universe and in our times and are communicating in English so that should be a given for any discussion and disputing those things are not reasonable. So your perspective may be very wide but it makes it irrelevant like trying to select a new car by comparing it to all types of transportation including planes, ships, and trains.

    I think you are right about history of North and South but it shows that Democrats started being “a party of minorities” out of political convenience and very recently.

    As for media, Ross Douthat is a conservative but he is alone while FOX has at least a dozen liberals on its payroll.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2015 - 05:17 pm.

      David Brooks

      is also a conservative NYT columnist.
      Who are the dozen liberal commentators on Fox (‘payroll’ is a broad category).

      The Howard Kurtz commentary that you cite (WaPo) was published in 2005 based on 1999 data. It was also published by the Randolph Foundation.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/12/2015 - 08:12 pm.

        Here we go

        Juan Williams, Kirsten Powers, Alan Colmes, Bob Beckel, Geraldo Rivera – I do not watch it enough to know all of them… The thing is that while conservatives admit that FOX is slightly right of center, liberals keep maintaining that The New York Times and NBC are not to the left of center.

        As for colleges being way on the left, you connected one of the three links I provided to what in your mind a right wing source is. What about the other two? And do you think colleges moved to the right since 1999? Now it is clear that you generally dismiss EVERYTHING coming from the right as propaganda and lies… Are they so evil? Is this a way to find a common ground? Is it even possible that the left is always right and the right is always wrong?

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/12/2015 - 09:51 pm.

          As a liberal

          I will admit to not being familiar with most of these names — I didn’t think that most people took Geraldo Rivera seriously anymore.
          I would not question that the NYT editorial policy is slightly to the left of center (given where the center is these days). However, I have cited two well regarded commentators who have regular columns on the NYT editorial page (Douthat and Brooks) — I do read Douthat regularly even though I usually disagree with his conclusions.

          The Randolph Foundation describes itself as supporting conservative causes; I see no reason to disagree with their self assessment.

          For information on academics, I prefer sources like The Chronicle of Higher Education, and Pew Foundation surveys.

        • Submitted by Jonathan Ecklund on 04/14/2015 - 09:17 am.

          I still have my Alan Colmes doormat.

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/14/2015 - 06:54 pm.

      If you think The New York Times represents “the liberal media,”

      then you need to read more widely.

      I suggest going to a large bookstore and leafing through copies of Mother Jones, The Nation, Harper’s, In These Times, and FAIR. They are quite a bit to the left of The New York Times and are often critical of its very Establishment orientation. (They are not well financed, because what wealthy person wants to finance a magazine that questions so many fundamental practices in our society?)

      That is, The Times is liberal on matters of behavior–where rich people tend to be liberal–but not so liberal on economic or foreign policy, at least not by the standards of these magazines. Sometimes the reporting in The New York Times shows real cluelessness about how ordinary people live, such as bewailing the fate of a recent college graduate who lives with his parents because the only job he could find paid “only” $37,000 a year, so he had to turn it down. When it covers ordinary people, it often treats them as some exotic species, although it has been getting better lately.

      The Times was completely uncritical of Bush’s rush into the Iraq War, much to the dismay of the REAL liberal media, and during the Reagan administration, it bowed to White House pressure to reassign the reporter who exposed the atrocities committed by the right-wing Central American governments during that era.

      By the way, all the well-known media in this country, whether print or broadcast, are owned by six huge conglomerates. You’re not going to get anything that seriously rocks the yachts from those sources.

  17. Submitted by Dimitri Drekonja on 04/13/2015 - 09:15 am.

    Geraldo??? First, he’s a punchline to most people, vs. a commentator. Second, and more importantly for the sake of your point. He’s a republican. “Geraldo Rivera declares himself a ‘moderate Republican’ as he eyes U.S. Senate run”

  18. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/13/2015 - 07:50 pm.

    Sources and thinking

    Mr. Brandon, you may prefer some sources but it doesn’t mean that other sources are flawed. I prefer sunny weather with no wind and mild temperatures but I take everything nature sends us. But here is one more source for you: By the way, you are correct about Geraldo Rivera. By the way, how many liberal commentators does NYT have? What is the ratio of liberal vs. conservative there? Is it just “slightly” to the left?

    Mr. Kingstad, will you please give examples of serious liberal thinking? You see, if you think that your side possesses all the right answers and the other side can’t even think, that pretty much kills any chance of a common ground or compromise. However, it is even more amazing when liberals express this point of view considering that they tout themselves as inclusive, tolerant, and understanding.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 04/14/2015 - 01:48 pm.

      The horse

      is dead.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/15/2015 - 07:36 am.


        Mr. Brandon, if I used you approach, I would say that the horse is still alive and in fact it is not even a horse because your source is a left-wing one and I have never seen this animal.. But I am OK with your statement – I know you can’t admit that colleges are left-leaning so this is as good as it gets.

  19. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/15/2015 - 12:14 pm.

    As a former college professor, I can say that your belief is

    partly true. Professors tend to be liberal, because they are trained to evaluate and argue about opinions instead of just accepting what someone tells them.

    If I were to write an academic paper again, I would have to study and evaluate all other research on the topic, whether I agreed with it or not. I could reject another writer’s opinion, but I would have to explain why. Then I would have to offer my own conclusions, but based on carefully accumulated evidence. If my evidence was faulty, some other academic would be sure to write a paper disproving my conclusions.

    The exceptions are professors of business, because they are expected to train the students in the idea that the bottom line is everything and overrides all other considerations, and *some* physical scientists and mathematicians, who are inclined to believe that there is only one right answer to every question.

    Another reason that college professors tend to be liberal is that the job does not pay as well as law or medicine or finance, and conservatives tend to be focused on money. They have trouble with the notion of accepting a job that doesn’t pay well simply because one enjoys it or thinks it is beneficial to society. (However, college teaching is less enjoyable than it used to be, now that the business executive types have taken over the administration of higher education, leading to less efficiency and more bureaucratic complications to distract from teaching and research.)

    Conservative students may complain about being “persecuted” on college campuses, but being asked to explain or defend your beliefs with facts is not persecution. What I noticed during my teaching career was that conservative students tended to rely not on facts but on prejudices (“I just don’t like that’) and solipsistic viewpoints (“If it’s true for me, then it’s true for everyone else”) or on things that authority figures or famous people said (“Ronald Reagan said…”). They did not like being asked to prove that their belief was valid.

    Conservatives would be welcome in academia (although jobs are scarce, and I would not advise a young person today to go into college teaching) if they were willing to work for about 1/4 of what they could earn as an M.D. and didn’t mind having their opinions challenged.

  20. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/15/2015 - 08:29 pm.

    Thank you

    Ms. Sandness, you are correct, there are quite a few publications that are to the left of NYT (I read them on the web – I do not need to go to the library for that) but that just shows that the entire media is skewed to the left. NYT is about as much to the left as FOX is to the right, but I am not aware of many publications to the right of FOX while you listed so many to the left of NYT… As for your question what wealthy person will give them money, it is easy: Soros, Steyer, Zuckerberg, all Hollywood elite… And of course you are also right that NYT is elitist and does not know anything about ordinary people – just like rich liberals reading it… And while the Times was uncritical of Bush in Iraq, so were Clinton, Biden, Kerry, and most other Democrats in Congress…

    Now, thank you for validating my point about political leanings of college professors. But if left leaning professors wanted to evaluate and argue, they would be happy to hire right leaning professors to supplement their left leaning ideas but they are definitely not (there is no “affirmative action” for conservatives and their thought “diversity” doesn’t count either). If about half a country is leaning conservative (OK, 40%), they are definitely underrepresented on college campuses, right?

    Can you prove that “conservatives tend to be focused on money?” Imagine that you are writing an academic paper about that.. They may be more responsible and focused on their families so they would not take a low paying job just because it is “fun” but that is not the same thing. I also find it hard to believe that “business executive types” taking over “the administration of higher education” lead “to less efficiency.” Business should be efficient, shouldn’t it?

    And conservative students are not being persecuted because their opinion is challenged but because they are not allowed to voice their opinion. How many liberal commencement speakers can you name that were uninvited? But there are plenty of conservative ones that were prevented from speaking… In fact, it is so bad, that Michael Bloomberg told Harvard graduates not to do it My experience is that liberals do not want to debate the issues… And just notice how Mr. Brandon did not want to admit an obvious fact about college professors…

    Sorry, I missed one of your posts but I will grant it that with your experience you know life. But wouldn’t you agree that young impressive idealistic college students and graduates do not? And they are the one voting almost solidly Democratic. They and women who kept their idealism…

  21. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/16/2015 - 06:51 pm.

    Perhaps you missed the point of my article

    Conservatives are welcome in academia (I knew several during my career) if they argue competently and don’t just spouts stuff they heard on the radio or in their megachurch. I found that few conservative students take the trouble and that conservative professors could be just as guilty of trying to influence their students as liberal ones.

    I was once on the honors committee of a college where students who wanted to graduate with honors were required to write a major research paper. These papers were then evaluated by the four members of the committee, all from different departments. I found that the conservative professors (mostly in the business department) let their advisees get by with shoddy research, such as papers whose content did not match their stated purpose, papers that made claims about the world today based on obviously outdated sources, and papers that told only one side of an issue.

    As for the issue of speakers being disinvited, the cases I know of were those in which widespread opinion held that the speaker had had a harmful effect on society. I know that Condoleezza Rice was disinvited because of her part in the Iraq War. Hillary Clinton was disinvited from the College of St. Catherine, so the trend is not one-sided. In any case, I can’t imagine someone like Barney Frank being asked to speak at a conservative college.

    Yes, “business administration types” taking over a college does lead to less efficiency. Under the model that existed when I went to college, the professors taught, the students studied, and there was a minimal set of administrators and staff members to handle the day-to-day running of the college. It all worked very smoothly.

    But in the 25 years between the time I entered college and the time I left academia for good, the number of administrators doubled and tripled at every college I know of. Every facet of college life now needed a highly paid administrator who was supposed to manage it, and each administrator needed a couple of assistant administrators. These administrators had to justify their existence, so they called meetings and required the faculty to submit endless paperwork.

    Meanwhile, these administrators, with their business-like minds, focused on cost cutting (but never cost cutting for themselves). When professors retired or died, they were replaced by part-time adjuncts who usually taught no more than one class each semester and received low pay, no benefits, and no guarantees of a job from semester to semester. No one can live on the pay for teaching just one class, so adjuncts have to travel to two or more colleges to make a living.

    In the past, professors were hired full time for a minimum of six years. They got to know their colleagues’ strengths and weaknesses and worked together to create a coherent curriculum. This is hard to do with an ever-changing population of adjuncts.

    Between the paperwork and meetings and the lack of stability among the instructors, colleges are less efficient than they were before.

    But college administrators are simply acting like modern managers at large businesses. That is, they consider themselves to be more important than the people who do the actual work of the organization. Due to a complicated set of circumstances, I once had the opportunity to see what people at a certain college were paid. There was one professor who was eminent in his field and who had been at the college for forty years. He was the highest paid among the professors, as he should have been, but there were ten (ten!) administrators who were paid much more than he was, and they were in positions like Buildings Management and Personnel Management.

    And people wonder why tuition is so high?

  22. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/16/2015 - 10:42 pm.

    Are you sure?

    Ms. Sanders, I have hard time believing that conservative are welcome in academia (just recently I read an article where a guy was describing a selection process for a new professor and admitted that conservatives were not even considered; unfortunately, I can’t find it now but he was talking about something else so it was just a side note so he might have not noticed how bad it sounded) considering that liberals professors are a strong majority and it is natural for everyone to want to work with people they agree with. And of course if your criterion is that “… they argue competently and don’t just spouts stuff they heard on the radio,” I can clearly see why conservatives are just not there: Many liberals think that anything conservatives say is incompetent to begin with. On the other hand, I see quite a few liberals who just repeat standard liberal slogans (racism is everywhere, poor people need more money, etc.) without any attempts to intelligently back them up.

    Your suggestion that people were disinvited in cases “in which widespread opinion held that the speaker had had a harmful effect on society,” combined with the fact that majority of professors and students on campuses are liberals, inevitably leads to conclusion that conservatives are disinvited much more often than liberals since, obviously, liberals think that conservatives have harmful effect on society. And, by the way, if conservatives cannot be blamed for not wanting to listen to the other point of view (after all, they are conservatives), the liberals should embrace people with other views by the very definition of a liberal… but they are not. On the other hand, why it is a criterion for disinvitation – no one knows immediately what the effect on society is… I found the list of all those who were disinvited and will do some statistical analysis….

    Now, when it comes to your characterization of the changes in how colleges are run, I will agree with you (except it has nothing to do with “business administration type”). But that is, unfortunately, a general trend in society when more and more managers are “managing” and they earn way more than those who actually teach, for example. Colleges, schools, big companies… they are all the same (by the way, proving that big companies and government entities cannot be efficient). Plus, of course, everyone now needs to have a “diversity manager” and “student development manager.”

    By the way, you didn’t answer a few of my questions…

    • Submitted by Karen Sandness on 04/17/2015 - 06:14 pm.

      Siometimes there is right and wrong, and rejecting what is

      wrong is not being “closed-minded.”

      We know that the Bush administration was so eager for the war in Iraq that they tried to find a way to blame Saddam Hussein for 9/11. We know that they lied about weapons of mass destruction. We know that they attacked a country that had never attacked the U.S., a clear violation of international law. We know that the famous news picture of people pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein was staged for the cameras. We know that life for the average Iraqi became worse after the invasion, and that many Iraqis who were not Islamic militants joined the resistance. We know that American troops tortured and humiliated prisoners, and only the lowest ranking perpetrators were punished. We know that the destabilization of Iraq allowed various hardline groups to come together to form ISIS. We know that over 4,000 young Americans and who knows how many Iraqis died needlessly, and the suicide rate among veterans of the invasion is staggering.

      That’s why a liberal might object to Condoleezza Rice. She’s very intelligent, but she wholeheartedly supported the invasion of Iraq. She’ll be fine. She earns good money speaking to the kinds of conservative groups that absolutely love war and think that the U.S. has the right to control the world.

      Would you be happy if a school you attended invited a speaker who had supported an action you considered to be one of the great moral disasters of the century so far? I am guessing from your name that you are a Jewish emigre from Russia. Would you be happy if a school you attended invited a speaker who was a Holocaust denier or who said that Stalin was the best thing that ever happened to Russia?

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 04/17/2015 - 08:42 pm.

      MR. G.

      Seems there is an effort to keep trying to logically tell “Webster” that they have their definitions wrong!.
      Lets try again:

      Conservative: not liking or accepting changes or new ideas
      Liberal: not opposed to new ideas or ways of behaving that are not traditional or widely accepted

      The question: Why argue with a conservative when they are convinced there is no other solution, by definition? Rewind: unless Webster has the definition wrong?

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/19/2015 - 11:36 am.

        Mr. Wagner, that is exactly my point: when Conservatives do not want to discuss things, they are acting according to the definition but when Liberals do not want to discuss things, they are contradicting the definition meaning that liberals who do not want to discuss things are not true liberals. And if it is a conservative who initiates a discussion, it should be appreciated even more…

  23. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/17/2015 - 12:53 pm.

    Representative Frank makes a lot of good points

    Median income for full-time, year-round white male workers in the US hasn’t gone up in over 40 years, whereas the output of the economy per person has more than doubled. That and other factors (eg, losing a major war to a much smaller nation) will do a number on one’s confidence or feeling of self-worth, which will make a person angry and resentful.

    By-and-large, the vast majority of benefits from the economy’s growth over that 40+ year period have been extremely wealthy white males. So to keep from receiving the brunt of the anger and resentment of the typical white Joe, the strategy has been to direct that anger and resentment at “the other” – different color, different gender, different religion, different sexual orientation, etc – groups that are generally better off compared to 40+ years ago.

    Essentially, it’s about strengthening tribalism. Don’t get mad at me, the billionaire white guy systemically taking you to the cleaners. I’m a white guy, too! We’re on the same team. Get mad at those people over there – the ones who aren’t like us!

    Mix in elements of tribal identity which condition these men about what is “manly” – things which just so happen to help the interest of extremely wealthy white men. Care for the environment? That’s weak! You’re gay? That’s weak! You’re a woman? That’s weak! You don’t want to start a war? That’s weak! Etc etc. It’s a great way to help the average Joe feel better about himself in relation to others, since economically he’s backtracking relative to them, losing the advantages that came from a society that treated non-whites and non-males less fairly in the past.

    And once it’s all about tribalism, rationality doesn’t come into play, much like being a sports fan of a specific team. So things like debate about facts, science, reason – it doesn’t really have an effect. It just boils down to “I’m on this team, ergo I’m superior and right and you’re wrong.” Easily observable, even here.

  24. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 04/17/2015 - 10:03 pm.

    Ms. Sandness, you are correct and sometimes there is right and wrong but why do you think that you always know what is wrong and what is right? I wonder how you know all that stuff about what Bush wanted? How do you know that he lied? And I know that attacking a country that never attacked you is not necessarily a violation of international law. Anyway, you assume that Republicans repeat things that they hear on the radio but you are doing exactly the same thing… On the other hand, it was obvious that Benghazi attack was not motivated by the film and we know that “reset” with Russia was a failure and so was bombing Libya, right? And Yemen is not exactly an example of how beautiful Obama’s policies worked…. And these are much closer to “I Know” statements than anyone can ever say about what Bush wanted to do and why…

    Now let me try to answer your questions. First, I want to draw a distinction between your examples and your reference to Ms. Rice. Holocaust is a proven historical fact and it cost lives to 6 million people. Stalin is responsible for the death of 20 million people if not more (I mean in Russia alone) and that is also a fact. Both were the result of deliberate action intended to do what actually happened. Bush and Rice, on the other hand, even if you assume that they lied, never had any negative consequences in mind when they did it and wanted to do good for everyone. So there is no comparison between those things. But second, I would be against inviting a Holocaust denier the same as I would be against inviting Pinocchio – those who deliberately lie should never be invited to speak to kids. The guy who adores Stalin, on the other hand, would be guilty only of stupidity because that is an opinion position (his would be a wrong opinion but opinion nevertheless) so I would not be happy about this stupid decision to invite him but I would not demand that he be uninvited.

    And again, you chose to ignore several of my points. Does it mean you agree?

    Mr. Willemssen, you said that “Median income for full-time, year-round white male workers in the US hasn’t gone up in over 40 years, whereas the output of the economy per person has more than doubled” and then you blame the wealthy. First, where does this white male worker now work? Good paying manufacturing jobs went overseas. Second, the output increase may have been the result of technology and not of higher work intensity in which case your statistics is fair (if one doesn’t work harder, the income should stay the same). And third, regardless of the income, everyone may buy much more now (no one had cells and computers 40 years ago) so they shouldn’t be upset that the rich have a yacht. In fact, counting money in someone else’s pocket is a recipe for disaster…

  25. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 04/18/2015 - 11:51 am.

    Tribalism often induces territorial behavior

    From the Encylopedia Britannica:

    “Territorial behaviour, in zoology, the methods by which an animal, or group of animals, protects its territory from incursions by others of its species. Territorial boundaries may be marked by sounds such as bird song, or scents such as pheromones secreted by the skin glands of many mammals. If such advertisement does not discourage intruders, chases and fighting follow.”

    This impulse usually becomes more pronounced when a group (or self-appointed representative of a group) has few or no meaningful material or cognitive resources, so it may involve even virtual space vigorously “protected” on an ad hoc basis. It’s why one often sees how issues of perception of respect can devolve into deadly conflict, since the tribe or member of the tribe possesses nothing of objective value to lose.

    This is also readily and widely observable.

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