What Happened to America’s Elite?

By | 2017-06-02T18:30:05+00:00 July 7, 2017|
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It happened on campus.

Once upon a time, the foundation of an American college education was common sense. Common sense realism was the philosophy young Americans learned in U.S. colleges. In the words of the great American historian, Arthur Herman, “Common Sense Realism was virtually the official creed of the American Republic.” Another great American historian, Allen Guelzo, made that point in this way in his lecture series, “The American Mind”: “Before the Civil War, every major [American] collegiate intellectual was a disciple of . . . common sense realism.”

According to Guelzo, American professors continued to be common sense realists until a political revolution in academia around the beginning of the 20th century pushed them out, ending an academic tradition that, since the time of the American Founding meant mastering common sense and learning to think like an American.

That the pivotal role of common sense realism in American thinking is today unknown to most Americans is testimony to the astonishing success and thoroughness of that campus revolution.

As you know, we have had another revolution on campus since the one that broke with the tradition of the Founders. I refer of course to the revolution of the 1960s. It populated American campuses with politically radicalized professors who quickly put an end to the tradition that had replaced common sense realism. As recently as the ’60s it was still possible to get an education on campus if you made the effort, though common sense realism was nowhere to be found in the curriculum. If you have been following what has been happening at your alma mater or elsewhere in academia, you will already know that the focus is no longer education. Education has been replaced by political indoctrination in an ever-changing array of multiculturalism and political correctness.

This then is in outline the story of how we have a political Left that rejects America. They learned to think that way on campus. This story also helps explain what ails so many in the Republican leadership. They went to the same universities. While there, they were exposed to the same bad influences. More important, they were not given rigorous instruction in how to think like an American. The new postmodern Left’s political ideas are a rejection of the Founders’ idea of America, and the often confused responses by those who run for office in opposition to the Left reveal their uncertain grasp of the American Founders’ ideas.

But what is this “common sense realism” that once marked the education of America’s elite? Herman defines it in this way:

The power of common judgment belongs to everyone, rich or poor, educated or uneducated; indeed, we exercise it every day in hundreds of ways. Of course, ordinary people make mistakes—but so do philosophers . . . On some things, however, like the existence of the real world and basic moral truths, they know they don’t have to prove it. These things are . . . self-evident, meaning they are ‘no sooner understood than they are believed’ because they “carry the light of truth itself.”

The core idea of common sense realism is that there are self-evident truths. Common sense realists would say it is only because we can know self-evident truths that we can know anything at all. Self-evident truths are the foundation of human understanding, and we know self-evident truths by means of our common sense. The philosophy of common sense realism is all about self-evident truths.

Does that phrase “self-evident truths” catch your attention? Yes, that is the familiar phrase from the Declaration of Independence, and yes, when Jefferson and the other Founders spoke of self-evident truths they were revealing their reliance on common sense realism—which by the way, was a way of thinking that was reinforced in college, not undermined by it.

Ordinary Americans are for the most part still common sense realists, even if they have never heard of the philosophy of common sense realism and especially if they have never been to college. We can turn to Abraham Lincoln for a good example of that. You have probably heard this one before: “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs would a dog have? Four, because, even if you call it a leg, it’s still a tail.” Of course this is only ordinary, garden-variety common sense. But the philosophy of common sense realism taught in American colleges during Lincoln’s time was deeply rooted in the common sense thinking of ordinary Americans.

The powerful affinity between the common sense thinking of ordinary Americans and the thinking of the people who once constituted America’s elite explains why in former times they understood each other in a way that now has been lost. The Founders believed Americans could govern themselves because they had faith in the American people. Here is Thomas Jefferson sounding very different than politicians today who speak of Americans as “bitter clingers” or “deplorables”: “State a moral case to a ploughman and a professor. The former will decide it as well and often better than the latter, because he has not been led astray by artificial rules.” The enormous gulf that has opened up between the thinking of ordinary citizens and the thinking of our ruling elite once did not exist.

One final point: common sense realism disappeared because it lost a political battle, not because it lost an intellectual battle. It is still as powerful intellectually today as it was when it was politically powerful because it was the philosophy of the Founders and the philosophy of America for long after the Founding. Above all, it is still powerful because it is the truth. It is up to us to recover it.

About the Author:

Robert Curry
Robert Curry serves on the Board of Directors of the Claremont Institute and is the author of Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea from Encounter Books. You can preview the book at: http://www.amazon.com/Common-Sense-Nation-Unlocking-Forgotten/dp/1594038252 He also serves on the Board of Distinguished Advisors for the Ronald Reagan Center for Freedom and Understanding.
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  • If a man calls himself a women, how many women do we have?

    • Robert Curry

      Perfect!
      You got it.

    • Altalena

      One illiterate mammal?

      • ak123

        College please? Job please? Taxes paid please. I suspect you have a poor educational background.

        • Paul

          I agree with Atalena. College: LSU….Job:Professor of Mathematics…..Taxes paid last year: @$38,000….Would you care to specify YOUR educational background???

          • elixelx

            Here, let me help out AK.
            College–University of Useless; Job–spear-carrier and -chucker for BLM; Taxes: TAXES, i DON’ PAY NO STINKIN’ TAXES; Gummint pays me taxes!
            I myself am a PhD from Ryerson College in Toronto, class of 68, where for $10 and after answering a skill-testing question you got a BA. For $25 and a skill-testing question of your choice you received an MA; and for $50 you got a PhD. AND NO QUESTIONS ASKED!

          • taek kenn

            And that is why The Donald lives at Mar-a-Lago and Trump tower NYC, and you don’t

          • JustData

            I’m with you and Altalena. My parents inoculated me against indoctrination.
            I started work as a farm hand. I was thrilled to get a factory job (which paid for the last two years of college) and became a tool & die maker. I went to college, got a professional job, and went to grad school in my STEM field. I missed out on all the indoctrination. I retired a few years ago when I was in my mid-40s because I worked in high tech during and after grad school.

          • ak123

            LSU is okay though especially for a backwater starter.

          • taek kenn

            And that is why The Donald is President.

    • hownow

      …lol…no women…just a man with difficulty with counting and chromosomes…

    • Ken Childers

      None … but if we have a woman who calls herself a woman, we have one …

    • kenpuck

      The elites, relaxed in their oak-paneled smoking room, are sipping 100-year-old Spanish port and puffing away (albeit reservedly) on their Upmanns. Suddenly the door bursts open, and a wild-eyed man with a striking shock of golden hair shouts, “The building is on fire!”

      The dean of this pharaonic group, ensconced most comfortably in his overstuffed, Moroccan-leather Chesterfield wingback chair, looks up slowly from his brandy snifter and fixes the bumptious interloper with an icy stare: “Perhaps so. But tell me, sir, do you know which fork to use with the fish course?”

      • Lol … but on a serious note something much like that happened during the Grenfell Tower fire in London – residents were advised to stay in their units and wound up being burned to a crisp.

  • Altalena

    Our present “elite” consists largely of ivory-tower Zambian Studies profs and similar bien-pensants who mouth the approved leftist pieties, with some crony-capitalism beneficiaries and identity-politics loudmouths mixed in. At some point in the past, there was some overlap between this supposed elite and the actual meritocracy; now there is little if any. Rather than Obama’s insulting “you didn’t build that,” there seems to be an overwhelming sense of You Didn’t Earn That. It’s odd that Trump, himself born into a goodly chunk of dough, should be the spokesman for what I suspect is a quite sizable demographic which feels that way, but, hey, the aristocrat FDR spoke for the supposed Forgotten Man.

    • Robert Curry

      Yes !

      Sadly, many college students are being victimized twice-over–going into debt in order to pay for a brainwashing.

      • Altalena

        My wife and I, parents of two kids now in college, occasionally allow ourselves the luxury of a peanut butter sandwich… so our kids can take courses like “The Sociology Of Bus Kiosks” or some such.

        Of course, my own college courses ages ago were not much more meaningful. At least my law school taught you how to pass a bar exam, and went easy on the indoctrination, God bless them.

        • Robert Curry

          Dear Altalena,
          “The Sociology Of Bus Kiosks” and etc.
          The waste, the terrible waste, and the precious opportunities thrown away.

          • Altalena

            Aggh, ’twas ever thus. My four years of college in the 1970s were wasted time spent attaining a sheepskin of no inherent value apart from the fact that it enabled me to apply for a grad school, and hence have a chance of getting this thing called a “job.”

            That said, I did learn a lot about global cooling, which was going to kill us all… until it was replaced by global warming, then climate change. 🙁

          • Robert Curry

            But, it was not ever thus. See above:
            “As recently as the ’60s it was still possible to get an education on campus if you made the effort”–although to your point the door was closing fast.
            Americans are made, not born. They have to be educated in the American Idea.
            I wrote the book for the student-victims because the schools and colleges won’t do it/no longer even know how.

          • Altalena

            Hear hear. The answer is, you educate your own kids, inoculate them (figuratively) against the cant they’ll be force-fed in their lib-arts classes (especially History), and tell them to get the sheepskin and move on.

          • Robert Curry

            Yes. Inoculating them against the cant is an important obligation.

          • Altalena

            “JFK was emphatically not a great president; FDR hated Jews and Catholics; the slaves were not freed by the Dems; Hiss was guilty as sin and the State Department *was* infiltrated by Soviet spies, though not as many as McCarthy claimed; the guy who used federal troops to break a strike of a private employer was a Dem; Booth was a Dem, Czolgosz an anarchist, Oswald a Communist; Vietnam was a Dem war, in effect then given up on by a Dem president; Cronkite lied; Dubya never said ‘mission accomplished,'” etc., etc. My kids have long since learned the litany.

          • ak123

            Yep. And they will remain low-earning, tax-sucking rubes for ever. All those “liberal” schools are the ones producing the scientists and Nobel Prize winners. But, please, stick to that dance major narrative. We always need a supply of minimum wage labor.

          • louie

            One can do some real good science after attracting some really talented people with billion dollar endowments, at least until one starts demanding that the supported science reach certain conclusions and push certain agendas. Such approach is well underway with the notion that man is the principle determinant of climate change. Given the tremendous change observed in the climate record of eons, this is self-evidently an UNTRUTH. It is only a matter of time before such a foreordained political approach stymies the excellent natural science work being done in other fields.

          • Hollif50

            The onus of receiving an adequate education is, and always has been; on the individual. People have to have the perseverance, the intellectual curiosity, and the open mindedness to explore all knowledge and all viewpoints.. I was awe-struck by one line in the movie: :”Good Will Hunting”: “You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late fees at the public library.”

          • Robert Curry

            Dear Hollif50,
            There is much truth in what you write–and yet a great teacher is a very great blessing indeed.
            I have had so many, and what I owe to each of them is beyond measuring.

          • Hollif50

            I agree wholeheartedly. I had many fine teachers instructors and professors coming up. all were god-sends; but alas – most of this formal schooling activity was in the 60 s..

          • Robert Curry

            My experience also.
            Since you were there in the 60s that means you saw it changing before your eyes.
            I understood which direction it was headed, but utterly failed to understand how far and how fast it would go in that direction. Simply astonishing!!
            Wishing you all the best

          • Hollif50

            When did you die?

          • Altalena

            Why, when the average temp on earth dropped below absolute zero.

        • ak123

          Law school. Figures. Probably tier III after you scored on the 60% on the LSAT.

        • SockMeGood

          Don’t go to college! I am a teacher and I have witnessed a lot of kids go off to college too soon and fail out! Here is some advice for graduating seniors and their parents based on 15 years of observations.

          1. Make them work and pay for some of it.( they have to have some skin in the game)

          2. If they are immature and not self- reliant don’t let them go to a far off University.

          3. Have them talk to recent graduates to get advice/tips; they are much more likely to listen to them than you.

          4. A community college is a great place to save money and usually has professors who are teachers 1st unlike the research focused professors at Universities

          5. Don’t be frivolous with your cash. Consider things like $25/month car insurance (from Insurance Panda), $20/month mobile phone (TMobile), $15/month gym membership (Planet Fitness), and use apps like GasBuddy to save money in other ways. College is expensive – save for it!

          6. Speaking of which – Don’t try to “Keep up with the Jones”. This dooms kids and forces them into the student debt trap.

          7. Don’t be afraid to let them fail. If you constantly bail them out you will be doing it for the rest of their lives and they will never grow as a person.

          8. Make them aware of the differences in earning power/job availability of different majors.

          9. The military, tech school, and apprenticeships are all viable alternatives to college.

          10. Do a cost/ benefit analysis if you are going to take on significant debt make sure it’s for a valuable degree. 60k debt for a chemistry degree is ok, 60k for Art History is not.

        • jerseymark

          How is it that you guys, paying the bill, allow them to waste their time and your money?

          • Altalena

            Graduate schools admitting HS grads these days?

      • bshirt

        True enough sir…..true enough.

      • jerseymark

        What demographic do you think Altalena is referring to when you say “Yes!”?

    • BanBait

      FDR was a tyrannical, socialist POS. He was a disaster that still reverberates, economically, politically and morally. From the welfare state to gun control to a wholesale hijacking of the economy, his policies thoroughly wrecked the Constitutional fabric of this republic and we have yet to recover.

      • Sactoman

        That is surely a contrarian view.

    • Old_Blue_64

      The man who led the American Revolution was also one of the richest men in America. His name was George Washington.

      • louie

        We should not forget that the “Founding Fathers”, for the most part, were the American elite of the time. Fortunately, though, they were not the ruling “elite” of the British Empire and so they were opponents of big government and cronyism. In a certain way Trump also follows this pattern of being an “elite” in some sense, but an outsider to the club of the ruling elite.

        One thing is very clear to me: the founding “elite” of this country were much more high-minded and in many ways more educated than our so-called “elite” today who are largely excessively greedy for wealth and political power.

        • Robert Curry

          Dear Louie,
          Thank you for your comment.
          Yes, America’s elite was awesome then, today not so much.
          Our ruling elite has let the country down very badly. Trump’s election was a repudiation of it and its across-the-board failures.
          Consequently, you and I have a lot riding on Trump’s success.
          All the best

          • louie

            Agreed. I think I would say that our founders were truly “elite” in the best sense, quite different from today.

    • Sactoman

      I have often wondered just who is the elite. You give a definition. Good for you. I think there is a cultural elite, a business elite, and a political elite. There is some overlap. The business elite has a lot of influence on the political elite because in our system you are encouraged to buy a politician and they are encouraged to be bought. The cultural elite is also supported in part by the business elite. For example personal art museums, big contributions to universities with naming rights for buildings or endowed chairs. Trump has been successful railing against the cultural elites and political elites but he is a member of the business elite. His cabinet is composed of billionaires and millionaires but this is ok because they are outsiders and oppose the political and cultural elites. However with his appointees you will see crony capitalism and tax cuts for the rich. The business elite has shared interests that override party or political affiliations. I am sure others have different ideas of just who the elite are and how it operates.

      • Altalena

        The cultural elite is elite for 15 minutes. Anyone going around reciting “Howl” or lauding the wisdom of Jack Kerouac these days?

  • OkiefromMuskogee

    Garbage in, garbage out…. or to put it another way; garbage in, politicians, sjw’s, and bureaucrats out.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear OkiefromMuskogee,
      Interesting.
      As you know, this saying comes from (computer) programming. What I appreciate about your point is that ‘higher’ education at very nearly every college and university in the country has become about programming the victims/students instead of educating them.
      So, to your point, garbage programming in, garbage politics, media, and bureaucrats out.
      Thanks!

  • JamesDrouin

    “What Happened to America’s Elite?”

    Well, first they shoved their heads up their collective diseased rancid colons, and then they decided they liked it up there.

  • DisgustedwithElitism

    “It’s hard to be an elitist once you’ve met the elites.”

    That was CBS News’ Will Rahn’s take on last week’s Aspen Ideas Festival, where wealthy, liberal elites…
    Imagine how different the world would look if their ideas had worked? If Obama-care really did bring health care costs down as promised, or improved health outcomes for average Americans. If the billions taxpayers lost in bailouts led to higher middle-class wages. If cutting deals with dirtbags like North Korea and Iran led to a safer, more peaceful world. In other words, imagine a world where the elites and their ideas hadn’t failed miserably. Think we’d still have President “Mean Tweets” Trump?

    from “Graham: Smug elites pay heavy price for incompetence” (www. bostonherald. com/ opinion/ op_ed/ 2017/07/ graham_smug_elites_pay_heavy_price_for_incompetence)

    Our world is less for trusting too long in the smug, sanctimonious in-bred limousine-liberal private-jet elitists of the East and Left coastal cities and their group-think-driven private universities.

  • hownow

    …lol…”elites” is a artificial title developed by…”elites” and wanna-be “elites”…others recognize them as simply persons fascinated by themselves, their schooling, their money, their power…

  • The rot in American academia started with John Dewey and his so-called ‘democratization’ of American education under rationalistic, technocratic (read: pedagogy as psuedo-science) lines. And this malign trend only accelerated in the 20th century as the Frankfurt School infiltrated American academia.

    Thus did Dewey’s idea of popular democracy metastasize into critical theory which eventually led to full-blown cultural Marxism.

    • olderwiser

      Considering the destructive outcome of Dewey’s influence on American education, it is surprising how few people are even aware of who he is or how profoundly he changed education in America. John Dewey must be included on any list of the dozen people who have had the most destructive influence on American culture.

      • It is surprising. Many Americans like to believe that the ideas subverting our nation are purely outside influences, but that really isn’t true in the case of Dewey – he’s a monster of our own making.

        I would even argue that, over the long term, Dewey’s historical influence has been even worse than Marx’s. First of all, being primarily an economic theory, Marxism is relatively easy to falsify over time, whereas sociological and pedagogical theories are much more open to interpretation. Even more insidious is the emotional aspect to it – no one is going to get too attached to a flawed economic theory, whereas nobody wants to appear to be speaking out against children.

        And ultimately, indoctrinating a nation’s youth through a (more or less) monopolistic public ed system is the surest way to subvert it. As the university system and the Millenial generation prove, Dewey’s acolytes have done their jobs well.

  • brian_in_arizona

    The current intellectual climate in universities seems to reflect a despair that despite the legal breakthroughs of the 1960s and 1970s regarding equal opportunity for all, many segments of society have not thrived.

    So “equal before the law” and “equality of opportunity” and myriad programs to pull eople out of poverty have not lead to full integration into economic society of blacks, Hispanics, women, LGBT, etc. Frustration with the lack of progress has lead “intellectuals” to look for deeper problems and barriers to remove.

    These intellectuals have uncovered a potpourri of racism and sexism that can only be cured by destroying the “privilege” enjoyed by those who have already succeeded and want to facilitate good outcomes for their progeny.

    This of course fails the “common sense” test. Telling the public that “group A” can only succeed if “group B” surrenders its alleged privilege is a non-starter outside the groves a the academy.

    • wheezer

      “You cant strengthen the weak by weakening the strong” – Honest Abe

      • Ken Childers

        I think some of the strong could use some weakening – not all. My dentist [a dentist in Fort Wayne who does a lot of Medicaid work – and as a substitute teacher I was put on Medicaid] got a great dental education in India and then went to NYU, one of the best dental schools. VERY meritorious. Corproate hacks who vote against the interests of shareholders [for whom they are hired hands] and then engineer for themselves HUGE stock options for 1% to 4% a year increases in share prices? NOT so meritorious. The US doesn’t seem to do so good a job of separating the wheat from the chaff – and by that, I mean the whole society, not just the government.

        • wheezer

          I tend to see the elimination of cronyism as s separate matter, but fully understand you point.

  • The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life — by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, i.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past — and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.” —Ayn Rand

    Many excoriate Ayn Rand and her objectivist ‘cult’ but her writing about epistemology and how philosophy has been hijacked by lunatic language linguists is pretty clearheaded. When you knock out foundations or never build a foundation at all it is is pretty hard to build a house. Lacking hierarchy you get disorganization and the muddled thinking evident today.

  • redmanrt

    “What Happened to America’s Elite?”

    They’ve seen the writing on the wall, they’re scared, and they are absolutely determined to be the last ones to lose their flush toilets and hot showers.

    • mrdaveno1

      Motel 6 and coach airplane flights are for the plebes.

  • john1025

    Are you the one to tell me what “common sense” is Mr. Curry?

    • Freddie Freeloader

      If you have to ask, you haven’t a clue!!

  • ProfElwood

    Postmodernism is the belief that there are no real truths, or at least no discernible truths. However, if you buy that, then postmodernism itself can’t be true, or at least not discernible. It’s not hard to see how such a self-conflicting philosophy (really anti-philosophy, since part of philosophy is finding consistent rules) would lead to the utter nonsense that we’re experiencing now.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear ProfElwood,
      Thank you. Love your comment!
      The postmodernist Michel Foucault claims: “It is meaningless to speak in the name of–or against–Reason, Truth or Knowledge.”
      The opposite of common sense is nonsense.
      All the best

  • Safe Zone Inspector ⚠️🍼📎

    I think the “Elite” academic degrees are becoming of questionable value to a society that sees how un-American and ill prepared for a future filled with life’s inevitable ups and downs the graduates present.

    True to Mr. Currys thoughts, they lose their god given natural alignment with common sense and become drone like messengers of radical leftist theories, which of course they have no intention of making personal sacrifices for. Society at large must obey or they’re ready to burn it down, after they fly to the chosen climate change conference in a private jet.

  • olderwiser

    The acceptance of post-modernism and its attendant muddled headed thinking is only made possible by the devolution of our colleges and universities into centers for political indoctrination for the liberal progressives. (The same is true of many our elementary and secondary schools, as well, as teaching positions are filled almost exclusively by people who have been indoctrinated at our confused colleges and universities) A modern thinker accepts the premise that something occupying an exclusive category can be either A or B, but not simultaneously A&B. (e.g., where A states as fact that a baseball is flat and B states as fact that a baseball is a sphere – the baseball may be either flat or a sphere, but it cannot be both simultaneously.) A post-modern thinker may accept both facts simultaneously. For example, “Well it may be a sphere for you but it is flat for me and that’s ok because who am I to tell you what to believe?” As another example, history has demonstrated repeatedly that certain social systems and behaviors do not work (e.g., socialism, communism, appeasement, prohibition). Yet, post-modern thinkers continue to fantasize about socialist utopian societies.

    Facts are confused with opinions. This allows the post-modern thinker to simply dismiss, as opinions, any facts that are inconsistent with their belief, or desire for a certain outcome. This muddled headed thinking is especially destructive when it is applied to human relationships. Commonsense tells us that gender (except in a few rare cases involving birth defects) is a biological fact assigned before a baby is born. It is demonstrable true. However, some people desire that it not be a fact. So we are presented with transgenderism and the liberal progressive post-modernist insists that we abandon commonsense and accept gender as something that may change based on feelings rather than facts. Another example: It has been factually demonstrated by multiple rigorous studies that children do far better throughout their lives when raised in homes with one father and one mother of opposite sexes. Yet the factual evidence and commonsense are tossed out the window and we have courts awarding children (as though they are just commodities) to same sex couples. What’s best for the child isn’t admitted as evidence – the outcome desired by the politically correct culture overrules commonsense and concern for the child’s welfare.

    We have been terribly betrayed by our education system, starting with kindergarten and preschools for may children. Education works to indoctrinate students in liberal progressive political correctness, rather than commonsense. And that is a recipe for disaster for any free people.

    • Robert Curry

      “the liberal progressive post-modernist insists that we abandon commonsense and accept gender as something that may change based on feelings rather than facts”

      Dear olderwiser,
      The war on common sense is so far advanced that the very fundamentals of how we organize and understand the world are under attack. Truly astonishing, isn’t it?
      Best wishes

  • Common Sense Realism gave us great American institutions like slavery (because the common sense of the time included white supremacy). Common Sense dictated that women should not be allowed to work (until common sense dictated that Americans needed the extra income) and when they did work, that they should be paid less than a man. As Einstein said, “Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” The word “prejudices” is especially noteworthy in the context of this highly prejudice article. One more thing: You state that the Left hates America. Exactly how does denying people healthcare indicate a love of country or countrymen? How does lowering the minimum wage, disenfranchising as many voters as possible, and generally limiting elected offices to millionaires who can afford to run help this country? It is the RIGHT that hates America, largely because the leaders on the Right no longer have anything in common with most Americans. Common sense would dictate that the President of the United States should work for the American people and not for the leader of Russia.

    • olderwiser

      The fallacy of the false expert = “As Einstein said…” Einstein was a brilliant physicist – not an expert in sociology, anthropology, or any other topic that makes his opinions on the topic of any particular value, other than as historical curiosities.

      • The fallacy that says that your ignorance is just as good as another person’s intelligence.

      • Robert Curry

        Dear olderwiser,
        Excellent!

        • You never answered my questions. Instead, you chose to go with the cheerleader. Typical Republican.

          • Baroo00

            In fairness, you really didn’t ask any questions, except for rhetorical ones in which you exposed your already-hardened preconceptions.

            You conflated “expert” opinions with accepted definitions, confused correlation with causation, and exposed your thinking to be typical of today’s “educated” as discussed in this piece: close-minded virtue-signaling, where you come to your preferred, pre-approved conclusion, and then not only dismiss those with an alternate view, but attribute nefarious motives for their beliefs.

            If you are truly interested in receiving a serious answer, I would suggest starting by asking sincere, serious questions…

          • Robert Curry

            Dear BarooOO,
            Excellent!
            All the best

          • not excellent. Neither you nor this other guy have answered the questions. When did “conservative” become synonymous with “coward”?

          • In all fairness, those were not rhetorical questions. I want somebody to explain to me how denying people healthcare indicates a love of country. How does it help our country to have a minimum wage that is not high enough to support a family. How does having a Congress that is 51% millionaires help the average American? You cannot dismiss difficult questions as “rhetorical.” There is nothing rhetorical about it. These are real world problems. It would be nice if someone would give us real world answers.

          • Baroo00

            I have neither the time, nor is this the appropriate venue, to discuss these things properly; however, to illustrate that there are opposing arguments – which may encourage you or others to pursue a search – I will offer these brief answers:

            – I presume you ask about “denying people healthcare” in context with the current debate over federal involvement in health INSURANCE coverage. The two are quite different, and it is very possible to be opposed to a Federal government program for defining and delivering insurance, and be fully supportive of universal health care availability, which we already essentially have.

            – A minimum wage is not intended to support a family – that is a new definition thrust upon us by supporters to elicit sympathy. A minimum wage was instigated theoretically to combat abuses by employers. While this may or may not be necessary, it fundamentally confirmed the “contract” inherent between an employee and an employer: fair pay for fair work.

            Your question infers that this requirement no longer matters, that an employer must pay a “living” wage, regardless of the value of the work. This leads, as has so often been proven, to the unskilled going unhooked, and to the low-skilled being replaced either by other, more skilled workers or by automation.

            Lastly, making the wage a single number forced across all states and industries is absurd and only exacerbates the problem.

            – Our elections are open, and being a “millionaire” doesn’t automatically disqualify a person from being either “capable” or “helpful”. If you disagree, you are likewise free to select a less-wealthy candidate, or run yourself.

            Also, as I said before, if you want your questions to be taken seriously, ask them sincerely: don’t load them with moral preconceptions or default insults…

          • You don’t have the time, and yet you took the time to write 300 words avoiding a real answer. We do not have universal health care availability. There are people who avoid going to the doctor because they either do not have insurance or cannot afford to pay their deductible. There are people dying because they delay medical treatment or cannot afford the treatment they need. Your use of the word “universal” applies to a very small universe. You may not wish to admit that, but that is the reality in much of America. It is even more of a reality in Red State America that voted for Trump.

            Secondly, you can’t call it a “minimum wage” if it doesn’t meet the minimum amount required to live in a community. Forget raising a family. There are places in this country where someone would have to work more than 40 hours a week simply to afford a one-bedroom apartment. Again, maybe your universe does not include these people. As a teacher, I see these families every day. I will agree that the minimum wage should reflect the cost of living within the specific state or city. Someone living in Denver would need more money than someone living in a rural town on Colorado’s eastern plains. That’s why WHEN I RAN FOR CONGRESS I proposed such a system that would take that into account.

            As for my sincerity – I assure you that I am absolutely sincere. You are simply avoiding questions, which I can understand because it’s clear that you do not have the answers.

          • Baroo00

            Remarkable. I attempted to take you seriously, and you respond – again – with insults and close-mindedness.

            300 words, to you, is both extensive and insufficient.

            I am sorry you were unable to get anything out of my admittedly brief and, therefore, less-than-comprehensive answer. I will not make the mistake of assuming those abilities in you again…

          • I can’t address you by name because you aren’t man enough to use your actual name. I am sorry that you think anyone who disagrees with you is insulting you. I have not, to this point, insulted you. If you would like me to insult you, I can do that and show you what an online insult looks like. I asked for sincere answers to legitimate questions and you, as usual for Republicans, whined about how you were being picked on. Sorry, Snowflake, but that’s how discussions work. And as you have no answers, then I will not make the mistake of expecting you to have one.

    • mrdaveno1

      White supremacy beats black supremacy any day! [s]

  • william

    America needs a pedagogical revolution. Unfortunately, reformists would face the same problem the Philosophes faced in France after the Jesuits were expelled from the education system in the 1700’s, of constructing a whole new curriculum sans liberal (religious in the Philosophes’ case) ideology, only on a vaster scale.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear william,
      You make a very important point. America does need another revolution in education (we’ve had several in our history).
      But we would not be in the same predicament revolutionary France was in. After all, there is a direct line between the philosophes and the postmodernists of today. (Please consider taking a look at Common Sense Nation on this.)
      We have the perfect resource at hand to set our course right–the common sense realism of America’s Founders.
      Wishing you the best

    • Very true, rejecting the educational system left by the Scholastics and founded upon Aristotelian principles has been a disaster for the West.

  • Old_Blue_64

    Donald Trump was elected President of the United States by precisely the “common sense” people described in this column. They had not been to college for the most part, and so were not tainted with the false theories and principles of leftist professors. Unfortunately, most of those in power, if not all, are the product of leftist university propaganda, and that is why Mr. Trump is having so much trouble governing. We used to be a nation where bi-partisan solutions were commonplace, but those days are gone. Now it is war, every day, all the time. And even in his own party, there are many who might just as well be Democrats.

    Commentators continually say the Republicans have control of everything, and technically that is true, but only technically. The real issue is whether common sense conservatives have control, and very clearly they do not. That is our current dilemma, and there is no way to see how it may ultimately play out.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear Old_Blue_64,
      Your comment is brilliant. I have nothing to add.
      Best wishes

      • Old_Blue_64

        Thanks, Robert. I appreciate your comment.

  • Federalista

    Many college kids also studied STEM classes in college. Fields that aren’t subjected to the whims of the professor but grounded in the scientific method as it has been taught for the past 300 years. And when these kids went on to become climate scientists and told the world that it was overheating they were ignored by the “common sense” crowd. Because the “common sense” crowd has no understanding of the scientific method in the first place.

    The far right’s attack on science will be the downfall of Western Civilization. The zeal of the right to burn books and mock science is turning climate scientists into the Galilieo’s of modern times.

    • Freddie Freeloader

      The only attack on science comes from the left, there is no science in what will shortly become known by all as Climate Gate …

  • mistermcfrugal

    I finished my college work with a MBA at the University of Colorado in 1973, a major league leftist place. I never bought any of the leftist trash then or now. People should use their own common sense and fight back against the leftists before, during and especially after college. No one should be brain washed by college.

    • Freddie Freeloader

      The major problem with that is they now start the indoctrination in preschool, the poor things don’t have much of a chance these days.

  • SolidCitizen

    “There are some ideas so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.”

    ― George Orwell

    The Liberal/Progressive P.C. culture and its hierarchy of victimhood, and tribalism, is the epitome of Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm. There is clearly no room of humor, common sense, or self criticism in that Dogmatic Ideology.

    What other institution’s have that same tradition? Pick your favorite Despotic Theocracy from history and you are not far away from today’s ProgressiveLiberal parties. It is a P.C. theocracy, that doesn’t worship any deity, rather it worships the Party, and its Leaders, and its panoply of Saints.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear SolidCitizen,
      Thanks for your comment. Love the Orwell quote.
      Amazing that “educators” have gotten so many non-intellectuals to believe those absurd ideas. (One of the synonyms of “absurd” is “nonsense.”)
      Wishing you the best

  • JCH

    And I suppose you think the racist/bigot in the Oval Office is a fountain of common sense? If that’s what passes on the Right for sense, I’ll stay over here in the left lane.

    Let me know when President Racist-Bigot find President Obama’s “real” birth certificate and then we’ll talk what’s sense and nonsense.

    • bowhowdy2

      Ain’t no racist like a leftist bigot. So, hating white people is just fine with you? Why do you leftists discriminate against white men?
      Hey, we have rights, too!

  • Kenji

    “Think like an American” means what? Which American? If colleges were to turn out Ben Franklins – iconoclastic philosopher-scientists – you’d be pretty happy, or would you? I have plenty of favorite Americans – Franklin, Harriet Tubman, Smedley Butler, John Steinbeck, Buckminster Fuller, Noam Chomsky, Muhammad Ali, Brian Wilson….what is their core political similarity? Other than doing things their way and being happy in their work, and working hard, I don’t know that anyone would say “yeah those guys are all the same: Americans.”

  • Historybuff

    Excellent article, I think.

    Our ‘elites’… have betrayed us, but I would posit that the ‘common man’ has equally betrayed us. We no longer value those tenets of of the Founding Fathers ‘elites’… we honor liars… elevate obvious cheaters… and adore the ‘feel-good media of hollywood’.

    Populism has taken over America in this day… feel good… hear only what one wants to hear… ignore facts and run with slogans.

    Our corrupt leaders are followed by equally corrupt ‘common man’.

    Not good.
    HB

    • Robert Curry

      Dear Historybuff,
      Thank you for your kind comment re the article.
      There is great truth in what you say.
      Ours is a government by, for, and of the people.
      The corruption of our post-Constitutional state is, as you say, ultimately a measure of how much we the people do not now measure up to our responsibilities as citizens.
      Citizens are made, not born. Each one must have an education in the American idea if America is to continue as a nation governed by its citizens.
      All the best

  • rwisrael

    Unfortunately Common Sense is not innate. It is learned from parents and relatives invested in a child’s development. Too many parents have abdicated their responsibility to educators who are more interested in socializing children into a progressive environment than teaching them Common Sense, which often violates progressive tenets.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear rwisrael,
      “Common Sense is not innate”
      True & profoundly important. Thank you for your comment.
      All the best

      • rwisrael

        Thank you.

    • jerseymark

      Actually not true as common sense really is innate as it is so related to “fairness” and “reality”. If left alone, a child would grow up with a true common sense as he/she will have experienced reality without the ideological spins that become overlays and his/her sense of fairness would express the Golden rule. It is the educational brainwashing that distorts this process calling black white and white black such that no “truth” exists any longer. It is a spiritual battle.

      • rwisrael

        You are dreaming aloud in Plato’s cave.. Children learn what they have been taught and experienced.

  • bowhowdy2

    Went back to a college campus after 40 years for one class. I thought I was in a re-education camp run by the Red Guards!

    • Robert Curry

      Dear bowhowdy2,
      Great comment !! Things have really changed, haven’t they?
      And you were in a Red Guards camp. The progressive left is mounting a Cultural Revolution right here in the good ol’ USA.
      Warm wishes

  • odys

    “The core idea of common sense realism is that there are self-evident truths.”

    As Will Rogers said:

    “Some learn by listening, others learn by watching, still others have to pee on the electric fence.”

    That is about the level that many need to descend to before they recognize these self-evident truths.

  • Ken Childers

    Yeah … jess folks know so much. Try getting jess folks at an Indiana reinsurance company to give good, thoughtful customer service to our customers in Latin America. One of my jobs was translating Spanish and English, and the pretty technical language of insurance and regulation, and I often had to go far beyond that, because the basic skills in math, financial services, and insurance were so low in that part of Indiana – as were the intercultural skills. My degree in linguistics was from Yale, and it well prepared me for the job: I had hard skills in math and science, good critical reading skills, and great soft skills, since within my linguistics degree I had focused on Spain and Latin America. Many of my Indiana colleagues [I’m a Hoosier myself] were in constant dismay at the uncertainties and changes they needed to keep track of at working with so many companies in so many Latin American [and Asian] markets.

  • Sactoman

    What makes something self evident. Would a Saudi prince find something self evident that we would not find self evident. What about a committed ISIS terrorist? Wouldn’t something that is self evident be universally held. Calling a dog’s tail a leg is a function of logic and language. That it is self evident that all men are created equal is quite different and historically was not self evident nor is it universally accepted now. This author says that common sense realism has been removed from universities by those bad lefties and socialists who don’t share an understanding of what is self evident. Perhaps these bad
    people disagree with the author about what is self evident. I think a flat out critique of leftist takeover of our universities is more persuasive without this common sense realism and self evident superstructure.

    • Robert Curry

      “I think a flat out critique of leftist takeover of our universities is more persuasive without this common sense realism and self evident superstructure.”

      Dear Sactoman,
      You could be right about what is more persuasive–but it is true anyway that the leftists are at war with “this common sense realism and self-evident” foundation of the American idea.
      All the best

      • Sactoman

        Do you find this stuff about common sense realism and the denial of self evident truths helpful in explaining the illiberal tendencies of the left both in general and in our universities? To me it is not helpful and gets in the way. Common sense realism is the acceptance of self evident truths but then you have to explain why self evident truths are apparently not so evident. A focus on an authoritian or intolerant strain among liberals eliminates the need to wrap up this criticism with some weird refusal to acknowledge self evident truths and common sense. Anyway just my 2 cents.

        • Robert Curry

          Dear Sactoman,
          Thank you for persisting.
          I do find it helpful, though I can understand that you don’t.
          I’m glad to be of use to you if I can. I’ll give it a try. Here goes:
          The progressive left has been so fabulously successful at putting an end to Constitutional government that they have now gone on to make war on common sense because common sense is the basis of the very possibility of self-government. Overthrow common sense and you have overthrown the citizen-sovereign.
          Does that make sense to you?
          It is not enough for the Left to succeed at violating the clear meaning of the Constitution by imposing Obamacare or “single payer” (socialized medicine). No, it is necessary to go beyond that and overthrow the common sense claim that humans are male or female, replacing it with the claim that there are 63 or 71 or whatever number of “genders” and backing that up with legal sanctions and mandates.
          If you are keen on this question, may I suggest that you take a look at Common Sense Nation? It addresses your question directly.
          Hope I have been of some help.
          All the best

  • Random Ami

    I read a book back in the early 2000’s called “The lost of common sense”. It’s still valid today: the government add so much burocracy to a small business that at some point it costs the business owner more in time, money and resources to keep up with the government requirements than the profit he is making,, so he closes the business.

    In the 80s while living in Latin America and discussing with the so called “intelectual elites” there (aka antiamericans) they said they couldn’t understand while Americans thought their country was best and a lot of blah blah blah. I told them because no matter to demonized them, smear them, etc., tonight, THIS night, there will be millions of people lining up in a US consulate to get a visa, many more will be risking their lives in a boat, or crossing a river, or getting married for a green card, etc. So logic and COMMON SENSE tell them, that if the USA wasn’t best that wouldn’t be happening.

    Today I could come with 1000s of examples where common sense is replaced with theoretical garbage and “5000 shades of gray”. But truth is only one, as in…2 sexes, two stages of a being (dead or alive), therefore abortion is killing. 2 only ways to reproduce (a male gene and a female gene), that’s that.

    • Robert Curry

      “2 sexes”
      Dear Random Ami,
      Yes.
      Yet when I just googled it I found there are 63 or 71 “genders”, depending on who is counting!
      Thanks for your comment.
      All the best

  • S.D.

    Good article, although I don’t think it talks much about how much of today’s leftist college nonsense is driven by $$$ factors on-campus. To be specific, I mean college costs far outstripping inflation, college administrative bloat, said administrators preserving their ‘lifestyle’ by parroting back whatever their ‘student customers’ want to hear (vs. truths, or reasonably discerned truths). I don’t deny in anyway the leftist theoretical underpinnings (as discussed above), I just think there’s an economic factor at work here, as well… although some of these students may be getting ‘woke’ to the fact that a $100K debt for a degree in ’18th-century lesbian studies’ will never be workable… curious also how the ‘elite’ bankers made sure these leftist student acolytes can’t discharge their student loan debt in bankruptcy…
    Also, how is it that so many whites seem to be buying into the self-deprecating nonsense, that caucasian/western culture represents “everything that’s wrong with the world”?!! Do they *really* think that African tribal culture, or Native American culture, or… Moslem/Sharia culture… would produce a better world?! I can at least understand it when, say, a BLM protester takes this position (blatant self-interest). But other whites? Along this line, I saw a recent comment to the effect of “after the so-called ‘white oppressors’ have given up everything they have of value in hopes of appeasing the ‘oppressed’, after their show trial in 2042, maybe then they will realize their error…”.
    One aspect may be, that when flawed ideas don’t produce the desired result (say, the “Great Society” program of the 60’s)… instead of rejecting these ideas as flawed… proponents go digging for further “aggressions” that are holding back their favored racial/demographic group.

  • johnleehooker

    “education” in America now means either the 2-year lobotomy treatment plan or the 4-year lobotomy treatment plan. Both followed up with a maintenance plan of idiocy provided by the MSM on a nightly basis.

    btw, the appropriate word is EFFETE not elite.

    • Robert Curry

      Thanks johnleehooker,
      Nice !! I’m laughing.
      All the best

  • Kneave Riggall

    The answer to your question in one word: Credentialism.

  • Babylonandon

    The problem we have here is that being a college professor became so venerated after we built The Bomb that no one bothered to bring up the fact that most of these monkeys were not only educated far beyond their actual intelligence – they had for the most part backed Hitler AND Stalin as members of the Eugenics Movement until Hitler actually started to invade other countries AND continued to back Stalin long after people realized that the Communists were just as bad as the Nazi’s.

    A massive number of these “professors” should have been removed from their tenured positions (at the very least) for being active enemies of the country with the threat of shutting down any “Educational Institution” that continued to employ people who openly conspired to overthrow the government. Think folks like Ayers, Dourne, and all those SDS / Weather Underground clowns were created in a vacuum? They fell under the spell woven for them by college professors who were allowed to continue to poison people’s minds long after their only speaking venue SHOULD have been to their fellow inmates in Club Fed.

  • Done With It

    I bought a copy of his book. If you haven’t read it, get a copy. It’s a great book! I was nodding approvingly, page after page, it makes so much sense. You get the feeling that if we could get this in the hands of every teen and young adult, the world could right itself in a generation.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear Done With It,
      Thank you for your delightful review of the book!
      Your report of your response while you were reading the book makes me very happy. That response was precisely what I was aiming for.
      I too have that feeling about what it would mean if we got the book into the hands of every teen and young adult.
      I wish I knew how to tell you how much I appreciate your comment.
      With warmest regards

      • Done With It

        That was very cool to see pop into my email inbox. Thank you! You’ve performed quite a service.

        I’m sending copies of this book out now on birthdays to family and friends…should have mentioned that in my first comment.

        Best of luck to us all!

  • bdy206

    Okay. Some common sense self evident truths:

    – White male property owners get to vote. Exclusively.

    – Manifest Destiny. When people who occupy land are brown; speak languages other than English; don’t have a concept of real property and never invented rifles, they are savages. It makes perfect sense to herd them onto reservations or, should they disagree, massacre them man, woman and child.

    – It’s noble and right to own other human beings, especially the black ones.

    – Children working 15 hour shifts in factories is a good thing.

    – If you put a woman in the water and she doesn’t die of drowning, she’s a witch and must be burned to death.

    – If you put a man in a room with a witch; a Lakota; a negro slave; a child worker; a Chinese railway worker; a shiftless fellow without property and a lazy guy with no job, and somebody calls them all “men,” there’s still only one man in the room.

    As unpleasant as I find what passes for morality at college, I much prefer its “political indoctrination in an ever changing array of multiculturalism and political correctness,” to an ethic that justifies literally whatever you want it to, as long as it passes the eyeball test and can be stated in single syllable words.

    • Calendar Calendar

      Are you making an argument. . . or trying to strike a nerve? I could add to your laundry list of Un-unique American ills (Slavery was legal pretty much across with world in 1776. . . and as you of course know, Slavery was not made part of the Declaration of Independence. . . nor the Constitution. . . but the demunition of slavery was enshrined by preventing Slave Holding States from counting their slaves as full citizens (the 3/5th rule) . . . but you wouldn’t know that.. because you don’t read history. . . only other people’s interpretations of history.

      The “Witch” thing is funny. . . Please, though, fellow citizen, read with a critical eye and don’t believe everything Noam Chomsky says. . . he’s been wrong before.

  • IntellectGetOne2

    Excellent piece. Just excellent.

    • Robert Curry

      Dear IntellectGetOne2,
      Thank you for your very kind comment.
      Wishing you the best

  • ebola131

    “What happened to America’s Elite?”
    Occam’s Razor…..they believe their own BS and believe they are elite.
    We deplorables ain’t buying that drivel anymore.
    They will push until the shooting starts and then disclaim any responsibility for it……modus operandi.
    III/0317

  • I_kekd

    Great article.

    Found my way here via Federalist

    • Robert Curry

      Dear l-kekd,
      Welcome to AG!
      And thanks for your kind words.
      Best wishes

  • Glenn Gallup

    I call Boomer.

  • conservativeeducator

    Elites? Who named them? Themselves? We are the elites because we say so! Unfortunately for America, the so called elites contribute nothing to Making America Great Again. Webster’s defines elite as: the best of a class. If these appalling, grasping, greedy people are elites, I don’t want any part of them or their agenda.

    Elites in America: police officers, military, fire fighters, soup kitchen workers, nurses, cancer ward workers, teachers of special needs children, children caring for their Alzheimer parents – you get the idea. These are the Americans I want to know and work with. These are the Americans I want my kids and grand-kids to know. These are the true elites of America.

  • Robert Curry

    This one on the collapse of standards in academia is worth reading–and pondering:

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/07/what-exactly-is-feminist-geography.php