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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

The Katzwer’s Out of The Bag: Santorum is the ‘snob’ barring success

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: Opinions, Top Stories

I am going to be bold for a moment: Rick Santorum is a hypocritical jackass. Most of the things he says, I just ignore because I already know he is a hypocritical jackass. As a college student and as an American, however, I cannot ignore some of the things he has been saying about preparing high school students for higher education facilities.

In case you missed this media storm, Santorum has attacked President Obama’s position that education beyond high school should be more affordable and that students should be better prepared to acquire it. In New Hampshire to a crowd of his supporters, Santorum raged against Obama, saying:
Who are you? Who are you to say that every child in America go … I mean the hubris of this president to think that he knows what’s best for you. […] I have seven kids. Maybe they’ll all go to college, but, if one of my kids wants to go and be an auto-mechanic, good for him. That’s a good-paying job—using your hands and using your mind. This is the kind of, the kind of snobbery that we see from those who think they know how to run our lives. Rise up America. Defend your freedoms.

There are so many things wrong with this statement.

First of all, Obama has never said that everyone should pursue a college education. Obama has been very clear many times that there are multiple kinds of higher educations. During a joint session of Congress in February 2009, Obama said: “It will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education […] And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship.”

Obama understands that a four-year college is not for everyone and has never said anything contrary to that fact. Santorum clearly does not realize that one does not just become an “auto-mechanic”; that requires either vocational schooling or an apprenticeship—two of the things for which Obama is pushing.
Also, when he is campaigning Santorum likes to pretend that Romney is just like Obama because they are both elitists. Oh look, Romney has money! You know what: Santorum did not grow up in a cardboard box. His father was a clinical psychologist and his mother was an administrative nurse—occupations that both require higher education. And Santorum is no slouch in academia either. Santorum graduated with honors from Pennsylvania State University in 1980; received his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh in 1981; and received his law degree—again with honors—at the Dickinson School of Law in 1986.

If Santorum had the chance to attain higher education, why shouldn’t other people? It is far more elitist to want to restrict higher education and create such a large divide in this country’s workforce.

This current position is even more hypocritical because, back in his 2006 bid for senatorial re-election in Pennsylvania, one of Santorum’s platforms was his commitment to higher education. Although Santorum is trying to pretend that never happened, the Wayback Machine has archived a snapshot of his website from Oct. 5, 2006. It reads: “In addition to Rick’s support of ensuring that primary and secondary schools in Pennsylvania are equipped for success, he is equally committed to ensuring the every Pennsylvanian has access to higher education. Rick Santorum has supported legislative solutions that provide loans, grants, and tax incentives to make higher education more accessible and affordable.” How elitist! What a snob!

This new position seems to stem from a paranoid delusion that colleges are bastions of brainwashed liberals who have been forced to relinquish God and religion. I don’t know about you, but I have never been strapped into any kind of brainwashing device—I picture it quite like the one in “A Clockwork Orange”—and my religious affiliation and connection to God is still intact.

In a recent interview with Glenn Beck, Santorum said, “I understand why Barack Obama wants to send every kid to college—because of their indoctrination mills, absolutely. The indoctrination that is going on at the university level is a harm to our country.” He went on to say that “62 percent of kids who go into college with a faith commitment leave without it.”

Yet again there is so much to say. Let’s start with that percentage; where did he get that? He has been asked by quite a few reporters now where that figure came from and he has been unable to give an answer. I’ll tell you where it came from: his imagination. By making this one of his reasons for standing against Obama’s desire to make higher education more accessible—a desire he once touted—he is only telling America that he is unable to abide by a separation of church and state. While I think it’s great that he is a religious man, there must be boundaries. To deprive a young person of higher education that could result in a better life because of the off-chance that they may diverge from religion is flimsy and somewhat cruel.

As quoted earlier, he said of Obama: “This is the kind of, the kind of snobbery that we see from those who think they know how to run our lives.” And Santorum does not believe that withholding education in order to instill religion places him into the category of “those who think they know how to run our lives.”

To be fair to Santorum, the idea that liberal arts colleges are nothing but indoctrination machines is not a new one. Fox News said it about Brandeis two years ago when we had a guest lecturer come to discuss the dangers of the Tea Party movement. But, just as it was then, it is a deeply flawed idea. Are some colleges more liberal than others? Yes. But, just from what I have personally seen, kids who enter college as liberals tend to leave as liberals and kids who enter college as conservatives tend to leave as conservatives.

These last couple weeks should convince anyone still teetering between Santorum and Romney that they do not want Santorum to win the election. While Romney may be a flip-flopper, at least he doesn’t flop to the dumbest position possible and then come up with incredibly weak reasons.

Santorum needs to realize that while radical statements may get him media coverage and may get him some primaries, they will not get him the presidency. No one wants a president who refuses to help them achieve a better life.