Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has emerged as a serious contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. In response, the Washington Post researched and published a lengthy article on the “mystery” of why Walker dropped out of college.
The decision to attack Walker for failing to graduate tells us more about the worldview of the Washington Post and the political class than it does about the Wisconsin Governor.
After all, since dropping out of college, Walker has built quite a resume. He served four terms in the state legislature, three terms as Milwaukee County Executive, and is now in his second term as governor of his home state.
Not only that, as governor he overcame fierce opposition to accomplish big things. The Walker reforms were substantial enough to provoke labor unions to undertake a massive campaign to recall him from office and undo the change.
Walker stood his ground, kept the reforms in place and won the recall election. He later won re-election in 2014 giving him three statewide victories in four years. Challenging the unions and building that record is especially impressive given that Wisconsin has voted Democratic in seven straight presidential elections.
Whether you like what he has accomplished or hate it, that record matters a whole lot more than Walker’s long-ago decision to leave school for a job.
So, why did the Post bother to dredge up an old non-story?
The answer is rooted in what Megan McArdle calls the Mandarinization of America. It’s an elite cultural attitude implying that those who go to the best schools and know the right people deserve to be the rulers of the nation. Those who go to Harvard and Yale have the best credentials and deserve the best jobs. Such an attitude infects America’s Political Class. It’s reflected in the fact that all nine Supreme Court Justices attended Harvard or Yale. So did our last four presidents.
In that world, Walker’s decision to forgo a degree is simply incomprehensible. Those who value credentials over accomplishments would naturally assume there is more to the story than a bored student who quit school and got a job. Perhaps the Post dreamed of discovering some deep dark secret to explain the “lingering mystery.”
At the moment, the Walker quit college story is heading nowhere and likely to be a non-event in the history of campaign 2016. In fact, with so many credible contenders for the GOP nomination, it’s not even clear that Walker will still be in the discussion when the first votes are cast next year.
But, in the right circumstances, the lack of a college degree could become a real asset for the Walker campaign. Imagine what would happen if Scott Walker emerges as the only person standing in the way of a campaign between Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush.
In that scenario, it’s easy to imagine Walker capitalizing on the cherished ideal that America is supposed to be a nation where anybody can grow up to be president. Who better to make the point than someone who has accomplished a lot in life without either a famous family or a college degree?
The Political Class would never see it coming. And that’s why the lack of a college degree may be Scott Walker’s secret weapon.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.