All I want for Christmas: Smart Republicans

So the other day I opened up the Globe and saw the story about how the census says that we are the most educated state in the nation, growing in our percentages of those with degrees every year.

Does this matter to our state politics? Oh, yes.

Because the powerful colleges and universities here are quite liberal, there is no question that the Democrats own the “educated” label here. (You can add in museums, non-profits, and the local chapters of PBS and NPR – all led by liberals.)

What have we got? Where are the organizations that are filled with Republicans that make us look smart? Other than a few small think tanks and maybe a trade association no independent voter has heard of, I can’t think of any.

What should we do?…

I think Republicans should start by taking this demographic problem seriously – it is probably a factor in why we don’t win in the cities anymore. As the state gets more and more educated, the problem will worsen.

I know there are some smart Republicans out there – I met a few the other night at the MassGOP Christmas party. (I was pleasantly shocked to be able to discuss the Federalist Papers with someone who was there! I had a good time explaining why I felt that many of today’s Tea Partiers would not have ratified the Constitution they claim to be so faithful to. Take that, Sarah Palin – you Anti-Federalist! Oh…have your staff look that word up for you.)

I think we should look for opportunities to put our brains up front. How? I think we should add some homework into our training of activists and candidates. (History, vocabulary, economics, philosophy, argumentation) If someone at the Grassroots Conference in February wants to buy me a drink at the cocktail hour, I will be glad to explain how these things can help campaigns. (Fear not – I am a young, zany intellectual, not a dusty old professor!)

We might also have some social events with an intellectual theme. (I will host one on history or economics if people are interested.)

I realize this post will strike some people as absurd. But I believe we must fight against the perception that Republicans get their information from Fox and talk radio, which get dumber every year, while Massachusetts citizens keep getting smarter.

About edfactor

  • We don’t take advantage of things we have.

    Back in 2004, I was ‘George Bush’ in a debate at a community college.  I spoke at a ‘Rock the Vote’ event to high schoolers the same year.  I’ve spoken at Lyceums, charter school politics classes, LWV forums on politics, college panels, and in January I’ll speak at a ‘What Happens In the Next Two Years’ daylong seminar for a civic group.

    What do these events have in common?

    They were all in venues presumed to be liberal and hostile.  And actually, they were energetic and interesting.  In fact, after one panel at a large Boston college, kids sidled up to me and whispered that THEY were Republicans, too, and were just afraid to say so.

    We need to debate the Federalist Papers in a LOT of places, and not just with one another at closed gatherings where we can feel safe.  One rap on Republicans is that we are anit-intellectual, and I KNOW that isn’t true.  We are often better read and more informed thatn Democrats looking down at us as bumpkins.

    BTW – you’re right about TEA Party not ratifying…

  •  Smart Republicans…if you get a chance to read Charles krauthammer today you may think twice about putting those two words together again.

  • edfactor

    Well, for two guys to have responded so quickly in such a way gives me hope.

    Take economics as an example. If I were Jen Nassour, I would make an understanding of basic economics (probably macro first, then micro) required for all candidates, and help them if they needed a refresher course. Why? Because economists of all types all agree on the things that support Republican policies. (That sounds like a foolish thing Bill O’Reilly would say, but somehow it is true!)  Look at this economist’s blog on “what economists agree on” here. Then look at the recent survey that shows that Republicans are more informed about economics and that the left “flunks Econ 101.” (original survey here, nice WSJ op-ed here) I have seen confirmation of this in my personal conversations with some highly educated liberals. And don’t even get me started on macroeconomic topics of how nations manage their economies to achieve economic growth! (The left doesn’t seem to understand how growth is achieved, or why it is so important, or what makes us different than France, or why that is important, either!)

    I don’t know how this happened, but somehow a basic, non-partisan understanding of economics eludes Democrats, and we should use that to our advantage! Candidates should be standing in public squares making speeches about things like this and how these ideas matter to how our state is managed. They should insist on real debates on real topics, not the pathetic side-by-side press conferences we call “debates”. (Yes, they need to learn more about argumentation first, but that’s a whole other topic.)

  • The smart vote is too small.

    There’s also-

    The emotional vote

    The loyal vote

    The uninformed vote

    and a ton of others.

    You can run a smart campaign to get to these groups however.

    If you’re old enough to remember 1988 and Dukasis the smart people knew that MA was a mess and his claims to be a great manager (this was the foundation of his campaign were bogus. What did the election turn on?

    Soft on crime (Willie Horton and rape question). Looks like Snoopy when in a tank, etc.

    I am feeling a bit cynical today and thinking that us coming up with great positions and getting the voters to think our way is just not going to fly. I keep going back to Mary Z. “I’m qualified, I have a record of stirring things up, I represent balance.” Voters in reply- “Sorry we want someone whose not an auditor and who is a buddy of those in power who has shown to have questionable ethics.”

  • and conservative activism and Republican activism. You sound more interested in conservative activism.

    Party politics is more about the sale and the soundbite. And there is always a danger of coming across as aloof, arrogant and alienating, when the two are conflated.

  • The D’s have permanent structures in place that gather support 365 days a year.  From Non-Profits, to Unions to College research, etc.  They also have the support mechanisms so that if a candidate of theirs should lose they are not unemployed and are merely hanging out for the next election.

    We as Republicans only have volunteer organizations.  We need permanent organizations, whether a think-tank, etc. that we can train, mobilize, etc.

    Think of it in this sense, if you have a football team that invests in the best facilities, constantly recruits from the best high schools and plays against a football team that just practices a few weeks before the game and recruits people off the street who just want to play, what do you think the results will be at the end of the game?


    There is now a class divide in the Republican party. Mitt Romney, the leading establishment candidate for the party’s presidential nomination in 2012, draws support from affluent, college-educated Republicans. Voters without college degrees, on the other hand, look more favorably on Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin – the potential candidates who most consistently rail against “elites” and “country-clubbers.”

    That fraction may help explain why white voters without college degrees – a definition of the white working class that has been embraced by many political scientists – have grown more likely to vote for Republicans, most markedly in the South, not coincidentally home to some of the country’s lowest-cost metropolitan areas. If we assume that these downscale Republicans don’t look to government for their economic security, at least until retirement, it is easy to understand why they feel free to vote according to their values. They may well resist tax increases designed to pay for programs for other people, especially those seen as undeserving.

    The data suggest that conservatives ought to focus more intently on devising an agenda that addresses the concerns of lower-middle-class voters. Formulating such an agenda would have three advantages.

    First, it would help the Republicans to keep and build on their existing working-class vote, which, as we have seen, is especially likely to swing between the parties. Second, it would indirectly help Republicans win upper-middle-class votes. Bereft of a policy agenda that appeals to lower-middle-class voters, Republicans often seek their votes using a cultural message that sounds strident and anti-intellectual to college-educated voters. If Republicans are perceived to be dividing voters into two categories, “real Americans” and “latte-sippers,” voters who fall in the second group understandably recoil. Third, such an agenda might help Republicans make modest inroads among working-class Hispanic voters and even black voters – at least among the considerable number of these voters who make political decisions based on pocketbook concerns rather than identity politics.