Class Warfare Blog

July 12, 2016

Shoddy Research on Conservatives v. Liberals

I was just reading letters written to the NYT regarding an op-ed piece (There Are Conservative Professors. Just Not in These States by Samuel J. Abrams July 1, 2016) in which the author makes some interesting claims about the nature of today’s college professors, the primary ones being in the following quotes:

In 1989, roughly 40 percent of professors were moderate and 40 percent were liberal; the remaining 20 percent were conservative. By 2014, liberal identifiers jumped to 60 percent, with moderates declining to 30 percent and conservatives to just 10 percent.

But research I’ve conducted since then has shown that the ranks of academia have shifted sharply leftward over the last 25 years.

You can see that the good author’s research involved what is called self-identification studies and “clues” they were able to eek out of the participants as to their “liberal” or “conservative” status.

Not apparently addressed was the huge change in what it meant to be a member of either constituency over that time. In the 1980’s and earlier in the 70’s, 60’s, and 50’s, each political party had liberal and conservative “wings.” By today’s standards of what a “conservative” is, Republican politicians like Nelson Rockefeller, Richard Nixon, and even Ronald Reagan would not qualify to be “conservatives.”

The Republican Party of today would have been the “far right” conservatives of the Republican Party of the 60’s and 70’s. The Democratic Party of today would have been considered part of the “pro-business conservative wing” of that same time.

The Democrats have jettisoned working class people and unions and have embraced the upper 20% of the wealth spectrum and have become the meritocracy party, another part of the “blame the victim” movement. (Black people don’t need unions fighting for their jobs, they need a college education so they can be professionals, too.)

I can’t imagine any studies conducted over the past four to five decades into “conservatives” v. “liberals” could be corrected for the changing definitions of those terms. To call oneself a “liberal” today is like calling oneself anything from a socialist to a centrist yesterday. Basically all of the professional politicians moved way over to the right, leaving a huge vacuum for liberals to expand into. President Obama has been tagged as a socialist when he isn’t even a strong liberal … of the earlier sort. Such have perceptions changed.

The goal posts have been shifted … onto another playing field.




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