Presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, has been known to make pretty outlandish statements, but his most controversial might have been said a few weeks back when he claimed that the Obama Administration wanting more young people to go to college was “elitist.”

Now, Santorum meant that those in skilled trades, like mechanics, should not be excluded because their careers don’t require a traditional college education and that we should focus on non-four year colleges as well.

Nevermind the fact that community colleges and workforce training are large parts of the Obama Administration’s jobs and education plan, and that Sen. Santorum holds two advanced degrees himself, is it “elitist” to encourage students to go to college?

This also brings up a common trend amongst recent major political campaign, and that is “anti-intellectualism.”

For whatever the reason, the broader American electorate has become not very fond of “intellectuals” and would rather vote for someone “like them” or with whom they can have a beer.

That is where statements like this stem from and is clearly just pandering to an electorate who a) dislikes “elitism” and b) is very reactionary.

Now, I am not calling American voters “stupid” or “uneducated,” I am just pointing out the trend in our elections that points to “false populism” and anti-intellectual sentiments.

I also find it rather funny that those who push this rhetoric are usually doctors, or lawyers, or have quite sizable bank accounts.

I understand that skilled labor requires alternative forms of education, and this kind of job training is equally as important as a college degree.

That being said, college degrees are becoming more and more vital in today’s workforce, and it will be very difficult for young people who don’t attain them or some equivalent form of training.

We are at a crossroads in our history, with the “greatest generation” on its way out and Generation X and Millennials beginning to play a bigger role.

For the Greatest Generation, college was far from the norm and many never even thought about walking through the gates of any of our fine places of higher learning, but thanks to the GI Bill, those who did want to go could.

This made an indelible impact, not only on their families’ lives, but on the middle class as a whole and was one of the keys to its rise and strength in the middle of the last century.

With this newfound educated workforce, we saw a burst of creativity and entrepreneurship, the growth of the suburbs, and the prosperity of a strong and stable middle class.

Ensuring that those who wanted to be educated, could, was a major part of our countries rise to the top and to forgot that would be quite naïve.

Instead of calling those who choose to receive an education “elitist,” we should be celebrating the investment they are making, not only in their own futures but in the future of our great American society.

There was once a time when a household could not only survive on one income, it could live comfortably, and no degree was required.

That possibility went out the window with the decline of our aging base and the rise of our current service-based economy where a large amount of careers require a significant amount of education, i.e. a minimum of a college degree.

In order for the middle class to build a strong foundation and once again play a significant role in the American economy, we are going to have to ensure that as many young people get the education and training needed in order to compete in our global marketplace, and there is nothing “elitist” about that.


Jordan Posner can be contacted at


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