Discussing Obama's "bitter" comments, George Will today argues that the sentiments "fulfill liberalism's transformation since Franklin Roosevelt."
What had been under FDR a celebration of America and the values of its working people has become a doctrine of condescension toward those people and the supposedly coarse and vulgar country that pleases them. When a supporter told Adlai Stevenson, the losing Democratic presidential nominee in 1952 and 1956, that thinking people supported him, Stevenson said, "Yes, but I need to win a majority."
So let's stipulate that Will is right that some liberals hold under-educated Americans in contempt. Isn't it strange that many of these same liberals defend the very public education system that arguably created the "under-educated" masses? And that resist promising policies that might improve said education system, such as tough-minded accountability, high-quality charter schools, and a more limited role for teachers unions? If these liberals want more Americans to be "thinking people," why don't they jump on the education reform bandwagon?
I know: it's because for decades we've sold education reform as a solution to the crisis of urban America--closing achieving gaps and all--and not to the "crisis" of beer-guzzling, bible-thumping, shotgun-shooting rural white America. Maybe if No Child Left Behind broke out achievement data by religious affiliation (including Evangelical Christians) and cultural affiliation (including NASCAR fans), liberals would finally sign up.