Joe Knott, a member of the UNC Board of Governors, penned an op-ed whining about the lack of conservative professors at UNC. He cites an article by another conservative whiner, UNC business school professor Michael Jacobs, as evidence that we lack intellectual debate at UNC-CH. His solution is to set up an affirmative action program for conservatives to attract them to the university. What a bunch of snowflakes.
According Jacobs, “there are 23 registered Democrats for every Republican in the departments that address political and social issues.” He doesn’t mention how many are independents who may have conservative leanings. Among faculty in the UNC Department of Economics, about 60% are registered unaffiliated or not registered in North Carolina at all, so some conservatives probably aren’t Republicans. Still, part of the disparity reflects a Republican Party that has embraced a know-nothing, anti-intellectual political philosophy, rejecting science-based solutions and holding firm to supply-side economics that have clearly benefited the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the working class.
The GOP isn’t attracting many non-white voters with college degrees and it has been losing an increasing number of white college educated voters for a while now. In 2016, Trump won less than 40% of them.That doesn’t reflect indoctrination at colleges. That reflects economic self-defense and the GOP’s transition from a moderate conservative movement to one dominated by angry populists. Today, the GOP coalition is made up primarily of wealthy free-marketeers, white evangelical Christians and white grievance voters who have little use for academia. The modern Republican Party bears little resemblance to the one envisioned by William F. Buckley, Jr.
while wages stagnated and the lion’s share of income shifted from the poor and working class to the very wealthy. They argue that economic growth is more important than shared prosperity even as upward economic mobility for the poorest 50% of the country became increasingly difficult.
Now, Republicans want to rectify their loss of influence in the public universities whose budgets they cut by implementing an affirmative action program. How ironic. If Jacobs’ numbers are correct, African-Americans make up about the same percentage of professors at UNC as conservatives. Surely Knott and Jacobs would advocate for a program designed to encourage more black professors to bring their perspective to the classroom. After all, Republicans control both houses of Congress, the White House, both houses of the North Carolina legislature and the UNC Board of Governors. They have a far more powerful voice than African-Americans in the public dialogue.
Despite what I’ve written, I believe in more debate, especially on college campuses because I believe liberals would win them. However, I’m tired of hearing people who hold almost all of the power in this state whining about being victims and looking for a way to rig the university system to give themselves a louder voice and more power. Advocating for an affirmative action program for conservative professors while advocating against affirmative action for African-American shows either stunning hypocrisy or dangerous cynicism—or maybe just both.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >