We Don't Need No Education, We Don't Need No Thought Control

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 26 2012 3:48 PM

We Don't Need No Education, We Don't Need No Thought Control

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Evan McMorris asks Michigan Tea Partiers, attendees all at Americans for Prosperity's Troy conference, whether they share Rick Santorum's outrage at Barack Obama's college-boosting.

“I thought that was brilliant,” said Angie Clement of Commerce, Mich. “Not everybody has to go to college. We need garbagemen, we need welders, carpenters.”
“Everybody can’t be equal,” agreed Paul Murrow of Milford, MI seated nearby. “Somebody needs to do the manual labor.”
Clement’s husband, Stephen, said Santorum was right on the mark when he said that Obama wants to send kids to get college degrees so as to produce more liberals.
“It starts down at the elementary school level with all this bullshit about diversity, pardon my French,” he said. “Diversity and sensitivity and all that crap. That’s the stuff that needs to be taught at home not by my teachers. My teachers need to be academic: Math, science, history, social studies, that sort of thing and keep political opinions out of it, bottom line.”

Here in northern Michigan, I've found that Republican voters are 1) aware of the "controversy" and 2) totally sympatico.

"I totally agree with Santorum," said Larry Copley, a retired state cop waiting for the candidate at the Streeter Center here. "College isn't for everyone."

"We see a lot of jobs going unfilled because people aren't* being trained for them," chimed in Larry's wife, Margo. "Plumbing, construction, jobs like that."

The thing of it is: Obama hasn't told the lumpen proletariart to go to liberal arts schools and become indoctrinated in left-wing thought and a cappela. His universal college call, which took on form in 2009, was for some kind of higher education. Trade schools? Have at it. Politically, here, it hardly matters. As he does on many topics, Santorum skillfully cracks open a policy issue and finds the culture war walnut within.

I mentioned that we're at the Streeter Center. I should add that this is a night club, one that will feature the band Orgy next week, and one where slippery silver couches create difficulties for people standing up.

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*CORRECTION: I originally mistyped "aren't" as "are."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter.