You may have watched the news recently and seen people up in arms over comments made by Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. He “punted” a question on evolution from a reporter, because you know… it’s irrelevant. And of course he is walking around every day, unapologetically not having a college degree and, as we’ve recently learned from our friends in the media, that means he’s a rube and shouldn’t sully the chair at the presidential desk with his uneducated ass. The fact that he also punts on the question of evolution just proves that the guy didn’t even pay attention in biology! What a moron!
I wish I could say it was typical elitist behavior of liberals, but sadly, I have seen people that are less likely to vote for Barack Obama, backing this point of view. They too are falling into the trap that a college education automatically makes a candidate more qualified to be president than one who does not have a college education.
Now, if you’re like me, you’re quick to point out that George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Jackson and several others that you may recognize as former presidents, didn’t have those educations either.
You may further point out that many successful entrepreneurs, like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, also didn’t finish college because they had a whole lotta making money to do and college had become something akin to interference.
Not good enough, say the “Presdient must have a B.A.” contingent of American thought. “Those presidents were a hundred years ago and I wouldn’t vote for those entrepreneurs!”
Give me a break.
If we’re going to compare the last 100 years to the previous hundred years, the group with more college educated presidents loses by a long shot. Let’s not forget that Barack Obama is the perfect picture of elite education and I doubt most of you believe we would’ve fared worse if a conservative with no college education had become president instead.
Look, no one is saying that a college education is bad. I hope all of my kids go to college. It’s not a question of whether or not you can get value from going to college, it’s a question of whether or not the existence or non-existence of a degree makes one more or less qualified for positions that don’t require specific training. You know… like the presidency.
So someone that graduated with a bachelors degree cantaloupe art history is more qualified for president than a HS dropout business owner?
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) February 13, 2015
“HARUMPH!!!” they say. “What what?? The Presidency of the United States doesn’t require specific training?? You just want anyone with a desire and with no education to have their finger on the nuclear button?”
Well first of all, yes.
Second of all, if you were educated you’d know there is no “nuclear button” that a president can simply push on a whim to randomly send missiles overseas. Stop watching Phil Collins music videos.
Thirdly, what is this training that people are imagining a president would have? Being a career politician? Being a serial entrepreneur? Being in the military? Or can you forego all of those requirements as long as you have a PhD in basket weaving?
The truth is, all of these various possibilities could play into a presidential résumé. In fact, people with each of the qualifications mentioned above (except the basket weaving, I suppose) have at various times run and sometimes won, the office of President. And some of them were great. And some of them sucked. As is the case with many things in life, the individual, the circumstances, the various factors that are unique to that person at that time, are what made them who they are and helped them accomplish or fail at what they’d set out to do.
That’s how life actually works.
Now that’s not to say that certain jobs and industries may have requirements for education that make total sense. We’ve collectively agreed that doctors and lawyers should probably get some kind of certification so that people know they can do what they’re saying they can do.
Generally speaking, it’s probably good to learn a trade before you undertake it.
But being president isn’t a trade. And being a politician in general, shouldn’t be either. The whole idea was that average Americans from all walks of life could represent their district, or their city or their state, or maybe even the nation as a whole. That being a politician has become an industry itself is part of the reason we’ve got major problems.
There are some folks who wouldn’t even speak to me about what I could or could not do for them because I didn’t have that piece of paper, and that’s their right as the one offering the job or the opportunity.
It didn’t stop me from starting and running a business, and if I ever have a hankering to run for president, I sincerely hope it’s my awful archive of incendiary tweets that disqualifies me and not the fact that my experience and accomplishments differ from someone that chose to go to college.
But the presidency of the United States doesn’t work that way. This isn’t a job owned by an employer who has college requirements. This isn’t some position that requires certification to prove you’re capable of the various tasks associated with the work.
If there’s one job that I think you can say with a straight face you have an absolute right to apply for, it’s this one. And voters should be able to decide based on the merits of a candidate’s accomplishments and experience whether or not they should be able to sit in that chair.
I get sick to my stomach when I think of a country that is run by folks who think only the “higher education” folks are allowed to be in leadership positions. It does make me start to react with an attitude of “OH YEAH? WELL THEN I HATE COLLEGE DEGREES!!” but of course that’s wrong too.
My dad has a PhD, the height of educational achievement, and I’m very proud of him for it. He deserves the accolades he gets for such an accomplishment.
But I don’t think my dad is more or less qualified to make decisions on behalf of our country than Scott Walker simply because he chose to earn his experience on a different path. He’s probably more qualified to teach Hebrew, but not to execute the office.
It’s even dumber on the part of Walker’s critics because they are glaringly focusing merely on the paper and not the education behind it. They ignore 3.5 years of that education they claim is so valuable. By that reasoning, an honorary degree from someone who never attended college is more valuable than 4 years in school minus a diploma.
Let’s not forget the message that is sent when we latch on to the idea that college = more qualified: there are people in this world that simply can’t afford to go to college and are still intent on making something out of themselves. We should applaud that, not put a ceiling over them because of the limitations they were born into.
This goes to show what they really mean. They aren’t saying Walker is uneducated. Or even that he doesn’t know things. They are simply saying he didn’t buy a ticket to their club. A mostly white club, I might add.
Message from Democrats to poor minorities who never got to go to college: Don’t even think about running for president.
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) February 13, 2015