August 22, 2006

Quick, someone call Horowitz and tell him he can STFU already

Liberals aren't made in college by commie professors... they're born! And since liberals aren't reproducing liberals, they're going to die out anyway.

The usual suspects.

But the data on young Americans tell a different story. Simply put, liberals have a big baby problem: They're not having enough of them, they haven't for a long time, and their pool of potential new voters is suffering as a result. According to the 2004 General Social Survey, if you picked 100 unrelated politically liberal adults at random, you would find that they had, between them, 147 children. If you picked 100 conservatives, you would find 208 kids. That's a "fertility gap" of 41%. Given that about 80% of people with an identifiable party preference grow up to vote the same way as their parents, this gap translates into lots more little Republicans than little Democrats to vote in future elections. Over the past 30 years this gap has not been below 20%--explaining, to a large extent, the current ineffectiveness of liberal youth voter campaigns today.

Because, of course, liberals are only born not made.

So, who knows how we got Baltar (conservative child of liberal parents), Binky (belonged-to-both-parties-now liberal child of conservative parents) and Armand (belonged-to-both-parties-now liberal child of ??? parents).

Via Feministe.

Posted by binky at August 22, 2006 07:48 PM | Posted to You Can't Make This Stuff Up


Armand was born of a divided home - Repub mom, Dem dad - though he goes against the norm in that while mom got custody in the divorce, his politics ended up closer to his father's (or that's where they are right now, if you'd asked during Bush I it would have been different).

Posted by: Armand at August 22, 2006 10:49 PM | PERMALINK

I know what you mean. I have a longer post in the works about how my family views my politics, and where they fit into the spectrum of identification. Basically, a view of how warped political labels have become.

Posted by: binky at August 23, 2006 08:21 AM | PERMALINK

I sometimes wonder if the first things students should get in Poli Sci 101 (or 2 or 3 or every class) is a big sign with "Conservative and Liberal have become meaningless and/or wildly misused terms" printed on it.

Posted by: Armand at August 23, 2006 09:37 AM | PERMALINK

Y'know, I got just such a lecture (though not a sign) from Ted Lowi in Government 111 -- in 1986.

Posted by: jacflash at August 23, 2006 01:18 PM | PERMALINK

The man himself. How was that class (or, since it was 1986, do you remember much of it)?

Posted by: binky at August 23, 2006 01:44 PM | PERMALINK

I remember liking the class -- which was team-taught by Lowi and Benjamin Ginsberg -- a lot, though I don't remember a ton of details at this distance.

Posted by: jacflash at August 23, 2006 01:59 PM | PERMALINK

I always wonder about those big names in classes. As a student I used to think, wow... but now I know better.

Posted by: binky at August 23, 2006 02:13 PM | PERMALINK

What does that mean exactly? That you are no longer racing around APSA meeting reading name tags looking for the famous? Or that you don't think big names are all that impressive in the classroom?

Personally, most of the big names I've seen "in action" have been pretty impressive - some in a kind of annoying way, but some in a simply impressive way.

Posted by: Armand at August 23, 2006 03:31 PM | PERMALINK

Well, when I was young I would always think, wow, I'd love to have Big Name Professor for my class. But as time passed, and I got the opportunity to have classes with BNPs I learned that great research does not equal great teaching, and that having a class with a really active scholar meant that he (and I am thinking of a particular person here) cancelled about half of a semester's courses because he was off traveling all the time. In that case, I would rather have had a less well know person, who was a good teacher and was actually, you know, there to teach his grad seminar.

As to Bartells, I seem to remember sitting at the ICPSR with Baltar and a couple of other friends thinking "This man is a space alien."

And no, I'm not confusing him with Courtney Brown.

Posted by: binky at August 23, 2006 03:54 PM | PERMALINK

interesting. in my experience in liberal arts, the effect pushed in both directions. on the one hand, in philosophy and to a greater extent in literature, i think some of what separates the cream is salesmanship, inasmuch as in a crowded field delivering and propagating ideas depends substantially on presentation. on the other hand, the more established professors, who had relative carte blanche with their areas of study and what they taught in higher-level clauses, tended to be sort of monomaniacal. my best example of this is ernest lepore, at one time, and perhaps still, an associate and co-author of Fodor (who was huge back then in philosophy of mind), as well as head of the new cognitive science department. i took a 400-level course that was supposed to be somewhat of a penetrating survey of the philosophy of language in which we studied only donald davidson, whom lepore was studying and writing about at the time, and who lepore evidently viewed as something of a mentor. i mean, sure, davidson's not unimportant, and the philosophy of language is of course to broad a topic to be meaningfully encompassed with any probity in a single semester, but still -- nothing but donald davidson?

in law, by contrast, most professors are fairly comfortable in front of groups and know how to sell themselves / their ideas, since most at one time were big-ticket lawyers. also, i think the hierarchy is more directly meritocratic with regard to their work. thus, the most well-regarded professors i studied with, and at pitt there were a few, were generally very fun to learn from. although i missed the arrival of the biggest badass of all, richard delgado, everything i've heard suggests that he rocks the classroom in a big way (to go with his dozen or so books and hundred-plus articles). i also know that his efforts on behalf of students with a scholarly bent are nothing short of extraordinary.

my original undergraduate experience in mechanical engineering, by contrast, was very different. by way of example, one of the superstars on the faculty was a materials and acoustics (irony to follow) guru who had lost most of his hearing in some freak accident a decade or so before i arrived. his lack of hearing had caused the slow deterioration of his intelligibility to an extent that attending his class -- which was mandatory, of course -- was nigh pointless. one could only try to track his progress by trying to match up the book's colorful graphics with the scrawled diagrams on the chalkboard; the lecture itself was entirely incomprehensible.

other professors at that school, as well, were very difficult to follow, but mostly due to overbearing arrogance and an obvious impatience with beginners' inability to grasp complex concepts in calculus, mechanics, magnetism and the like the first time around.

interesting, political science, which with its analytic rigor is somewhat more technical than legal scholarship writ large, sounds like it might tend to create more ubersmart superstars who are too impatient to teach undergraduates effectively -- something like engineering school. imagine carl lewis going for a sunday jog with a weekend jogger -- bored and bored and OH MY GOD SO BORING!!!

or something like that.

Posted by: moon at August 23, 2006 05:41 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know - still seems like it's a mixed bag to me. Some superstars are beloved teachers and mentors, be they research superstars or people who are more practitioners - and some have little time for their students (particularly undergrads) and/or are just generally unpleasant.

This is an empirical question and I don't think we have the data to judge. :)

Though yes, I will agree that Bartels has a reputation for being odd. I mean his research is top-notch and very widely respected. But in terms of his personality ... well, he's got a rep.

Posted by: Armand at August 23, 2006 06:18 PM | PERMALINK