By Robert Tracinski
When Barack Obama was first elected president, a number of my readers were in deep despair about American politics and the state of our culture. So I set out to compile an inventory of what is still going right with our culture, the reserves of strength we were going to have to draw on to survive the Obama era.
One of my examples was Mike Rowe’s show “Dirty Jobs.” That led to some further ruminations about why people on the right tend to gravitate to shows like his, which celebrate the value of work.
Rowe himself has been understandably cautious about wading into politics—why risk alienating a big portion of his audience? (One wishes other celebrities were so circumspect.) But very recently, he has begun to indicate where his sympathies lie. There is the Facebook post I mentioned above about the minimum wage, which shows a strong, concrete understanding of the basic operation of the free market. And then there is a subsequent post in which he responds to a question about whether Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker should be disqualified from running for president because he didn’t graduate from college. (Walker left in his senior year to take a job offer.)
Rowe begins with a long and very funny description of how he got his first television job for the online shopping network QVC. It’s subtle, but you might also notice that he makes an implicit comparison between the job of president and that of a QVC pitchman. He concludes with an argument against “confus[ing] qualifications with competency.”
I think the stigmas and stereotypes that keep so many people from pursuing a truly useful skill begin with the mistaken belief that a four-year degree is somehow superior to all other forms of learning. And I think that making elected office contingent on a college degree is maybe the worst idea I’ve ever heard.
Given that not president since Reagan hasn’t been a graduate of either Harvard or Yale—and they haven’t even gotten close to matching the results of the bumpkin who graduated from Eureka College—it’s certainly reasonable to suspect that those Ivy League credentials aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
But the whole controversy isn’t really about Scott Walker’s qualifications. It’s about something deeper.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore