By Dr. Constantinos E. Scaros
Lest anyone think that the motivation in choosing the subject of my column this week is to pour salt on the political wounds of Hillary Clinton, it’s not. As I said before the election, I hope she lives to be 120 and enjoy her children, grandchildren, and greatgrandchildren – albeit nowhere near the White House.
The motivation is also not to take yet another opportunity – Lord knows I’ve taken plenty of those over the last year or so – to sing Donald Trump’s praises.
Instead, this piece is about two things: the importance of likability in an election, and the continued cluelessness of the liberal (pseudo)intelligencia, namely, the vast majority of academics.
Specifically, I refer to a recent study conducted at New York University by Professors Maria Guadalupe (economics and political science) and Joe Salvatore (ethnodrama), whereby they reenacted the three presidential debates between Trump and Clinton, with a twist: the Trump role was converted to a woman, the fictitious “Brenda King,” portrayed by Rachel Whorton, and Clinton was man, “Jonathan Gordon,” played by Daryl Embry.
As Eileen Reynolds wrote on NYU’s website, “Salvatore says he and Guadalupe began the project assuming that the gender inversion would confirm what they’d each suspected watching the real-life debates: that Trump’s aggression – his tendency to interrupt and attack – would never be tolerated in a woman, and that Clinton’s competence and preparedness would seem even more convincing coming from a man.”
All I have to say is – wow, utterly amazing! That’s the takeaway those professors – and most likely the majority of their colleagues – got from the election. That sexism had reared its ugly head, and that Trump’s boorish behavior was not only tolerated but encouraged because he is a man, but Clinton’s expertise would be truly appreciated if she were one too.
Reynolds quotes Alex Soloski, a New York Times reporter who attended the first debate reenactment: “Most of the people there had watched the debates assuming that Ms. Clinton couldn’t lose. This time they watched trying to figure out how Mr. Trump could have won.”
And there it is. When one is indoctrinated with only one ideological perspective identified as “correct,” it is no surprise that developing an alternative worldview is the exception, not the rule. A campus full of progressive faculty will breed far more progressive students than not.
Even more incredulous is that these two educators would approach the experiment with a preconceived expectation as to the result – as if they were writing a thesis and felt pressured to start with a conclusion and then figure out a way to support it. That may be the way toward gaining entry into the Graduate Degree Club, but it is no way to teach a class.
So many of today’s instructors have lost their ability to think with a clear and open mind. What would be so terrible about: “hey, let’s make Donald Trump a woman and Hillary Clinton a man for a debate reenactment, and see what happens,” instead of concluding that “obviously, a male Clinton will be far more likable than a female Trump.”
But Professors Guadalupe and Salvatore achieved the trifecta: first, they epitomized the myopic, monolithic thinking prevalent across America’s college campuses; second, they proposed a teaching moment based on a preconceived bias; and finally, their prediction fell flat on its face.
As it turns out, Reynolds wrote, “many were shocked to find that they couldn’t seem to find in Jonathan Gordon (Clinton) what they had admired in Hillary Clinton – or that Brenda King’s (Trump) clever tactics seemed to shine in moments where they’d remembered Donald Trump flailing or lashing out. For those Clinton voters trying to make sense of the loss, it was by turns bewildering and instructive, raising as many questions about gender performance and effects of sexism as it answered.”
In other words, the voters liked Trump better as a woman and Clinton less as a man. So much for gender having played a meaningful role in the election outcome.
To the issue of liability, which is the number one point in my book Grumpy Old Party, about what it takes to win a presidential election, I have been asked the very fair and reasonable question time and again: “But Donald Trump won. You’re not saying he’s likable, are you?” Actually, yes I am. Not to the tens of millions who utterly despise him and would do almost anything to get him out of office, but to his supporters. When he said he could walk out in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and his supporters would still love him, he was only slightly exaggerating. In stark contrast, Clinton’s supporters thought of her as qualified, experienced, even-keeled, and competent. But very few were head-in-the-clouds, head-over-heels gaga over her.
At the NYU debate reenactment, she lost her femininity, courtesy of Jonathan Gordon. But she didn’t lose her personality in the process, and that’s what counted.
Once again, this is not meant as yet another Hillary-bashing, Trump-praising installment. It is to underscore two points: likability matters, and the left still doesn’t get why they haven’t captured the majority of hearts and minds. Most troubling, though, is that while colleges and universities strive to achieve every type of diversity imaginable, their professors, with rare exception, are progressive Stepford Wives. And that is the biggest disservice we can do – and are doing – to our nation’s young generations.