If Delaware voters have any sense, Christine O’Donnell will be soundly defeated by Chris Coons in their senatorial contest. But there’s a disturbing trend in American politics that is epitomized by her third try for a Senate seat.
O’Donnell is touting her somewhat-below-average academic career as one reason to vote for her over her Amherst and Yale-educated opponent. Her Palinesque argument is that she is “common folk”, closer to the average person than someone who attended prestige universities. (OK, you don’t have to remind me that Dubya attended Harvard and Yale, but those family connections and drinking binges are the exception to the rule.)
Realistically, once candidates are out of college for two decades, their track record in the “real world” is more important than where they matriculated. But the fact that a candidate was successful in a top-notch school and had the drive and intellect to receive a post-graduate degree does say something positive about that person. Would you go to a doctor who bragged about being educated at East Podunk Medical Correspondence School?
While it may have been a good thing in simpler colonial times, I don’t want a person with average intelligence representing me. I’d much prefer someone smarter than me who can deal with complex economic and trade issues, up-to-date scientific concepts, and the nuances of foreign policy – all at the same time. For too long, our nation has treated our educational system as a drain on our tax coffers rather than an investment in our future. O’Donnell’s attitude only serves to perpetuate this harmful attitude.