Does the College lead the political division?
Bunch is not alone in thinking this way: you can find a number of articles in major newspapers these days that attempt to map our current polarization along educational lines. In the years since Trump’s election victory, liberals and conservatives alike have come to see our current political divide as one big battle between the coastal elites and the poor at heart, and the narrative itself has come to assume a powerful influence on the public debate even if the reality on the ground does not always confirm it. For every wealthy suburban wine mom who hates Trump, there’s an equally wealthy HVAC business owner who spends her free time exposing illegals, and there are plenty of dispossessed and at-risk young people in blue towns. as well as in dark red hamlets.
Additionally, the focus on the division created by the Big Sort makes it difficult for Bunch to come up with solutions. A free four-year college would be difficult, as there is “little” to “suggest widespread enthusiasm for this plan”; a free community college would be a “hard sell”, due to the stigma associated with two-year schools; and canceling student loans would also be a “hard sell” unless coupled with an increase in the minimum wage. In the end, to avoid pissing anyone off, he settles for an idea out of left field: a year of federally-funded national service that would put the nation’s teens to work mending the ditches of drainage, running youth programs, etc. Such a program would fix America’s great derangement by forcing children from different social and political backgrounds to spend quality time together, and would also strengthen our crumbling infrastructure – most importantly, however, it would fix national divisions and would bring us closer to Bunch’s goal of summoning “a sense of national purpose buried deep in our souls.
As ridiculous as the idea of a national service program may seem, Bunch’s difficulty in solving the college problem isn’t just an ordinary case of Columnist Brain – it also points to a larger truth about the ” problem of the university” itself. Like just about every other problem we have, the current higher education landscape in the United States is the product of many different policy decisions, some the result of greed and some of inadequate foresight. This state of affairs is not that old, but over the past two decades it has become intertwined with a number of different social and historical dynamics so that “education” is now as much an identity as an industry. As the coalitions that support the two major parties have changed, politicians from those parties have changed their rhetoric to match, so that Democrats now sound like they’re talking to college graduates, and Republicans now sound like they’re were talking to people. who hate college. Politics played a role in creating this state of affairs, but that does not mean that individual education reforms can undo it.