Tuesday, November 17, 2009

dude, you voted for the guy...

One of my colleagues is complaining about a new push here on campus, to get students involved in "mandatory volunteerism." About how apparently there is a new stealth program to eventually make "volunteer hours" a requirement for graduation.

And he talks about how it could take away from classroom instruction (I agree). And he talks about how it affects "academic freedom" (I agree). And he even said, "It's like they're trying to set up some crazy Maoist state thing in the university, where it's 'you WILL do this for us.'" (And I also agree).

The thing that's killing me - and I don't want to get into the whole issue because he's a friend, and I don't argue politics with friends - is he was a HUGE Obama supporter.

Um, this is just the tide of the future. Or Hope N Change. Or something. Your guy PROMISED something like this. And now you're upset?

The thing is, when I talk with this guy, a lot of the stuff he says - about personal freedom, about responsibility, about not relying on the government for stuff - that's like the opposite of how he votes. I've tried to make some gentle nudgey comments but he ignores them, and after a blow-up with another person I tend to eschew discussion of politics on campus - because there are a lot of really smart people who are really dumb about politics, it seems.

(All of that said? I really, really didn't like McCain and I don't like him any better now. Some party somewhere needs to get its ass in gear and pick a good person for 2012, that's all I'm sayin'.)

But I've seen this phenomenon a lot: academics who call themselves hard-core liberal types, but when you sit down and talk with them, a lot of stuff they advocate is the commonsensical sort of stuff that people who are more moderate-to-conservative support, but they would never in a million years vote for a conservative. Which puzzles me.

(I actually had one colleague once comment that "higher taxes on the rich don't affect me, because I'll never be rich." Um, by some people's definition you already are, buddy - if you're making more than $50K. And this is someone who has "outside plans" for a second career that could make him a lot of money. We'll see. And even then - even if I'll never be "rich" in the sense of making $100K a year, if the rich get taxed to death, it does affect the rest of us. Because there are fewer jobs. And there are fewer little luxuries for those of us who want little luxuries, because there's no one buying the big luxuries. And even beyond that, it seems unfair to me to penalize someone for working hard or innovating or taking risks - which is how most of the rich entrepeneurial types got rich.)

The thing is, a lot of the folks I know who support Obama or even Pelosi are themselves very careful and frugal with money, and seem to resent the sort of intrusion into our daily lives that the "enhanced government role" brings. But they STILL can't bring themselves to switch affiliations.

It's strange.


Mr. Bingley said...

It's so true, ricki. My favorite is how the academics rail on about the rights of the workers and evil capitalism...and then gleefully exploit lecturers to teach classes at insanely low wages.

nightfly said...

It's a widespread phenomenon. My Aunt will sometimes sound like she should have a slot on Fox... until the talk moves from culture or whatnot to politics, and then she insists on supporting the people whose avowed policies will destroy the things she most values, or make impossible the things she thinks most important.

(word verify - "gramisr" - a person stingy with words and syntax)