Wednesday, October 26, 2016

"The Idea of the University Has Carried a Weight in This Campaign Which It Doesn't Ordinarily Hold"

"The Clinton campaign has honed in on the aspiration that it represents, and the nostalgia, but also the way that a college degree can become, for ordinary people, a rebuke to racism, sexism, or inequality. From the stage at St. Anselm on Monday, the young Democratic nominee for governor of New Hampshire, Colin Van Ostern, spent much of his five minutes talking about the nonprofit he helps lead, which works with companies and universities to get employees to college on the cheap. The story he told is of a middle-aged woman whose husband once told her that she was 'not college material.' The woman went on to get a two-year associate's degree in her forties and was now working on a bachelor's. In her stump speeches, Clinton acknowledges the need for more expansive technical education, but this has none of the thematic force of when she talks about the traditional liberal-arts system. The lurking question for Clinton, through the long span of the election, has been how to respond to the people who feel left out of the globalized market that the Clintons helped design, and whose frustrations fired both Sanders's movement and Trump's. More and more, it appears that the Democratic response is to swell the ranks of the educated—to identify the university as the essential American institution, and to bet on it."

Benjamin Wallace-Wells at The New Yorker writes that "[t]he Democratic understanding of the symbolic power of the university has sharpened in this election."

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