Sex, College and Republicans

Republican candidates for President get into our face about issues that have been and ought to remain personal. That is, such issues are for us to decide. If we want the opinions of others close to us we can ask. By others, I mean those within our perceived sphere of social trust.

As Gail Collins noted in a recent column in the New York Times, there was a time when “legislators wore nice suits and worried about issues like bonded indebtedness, and blushed if you said ‘pelvis.’” Unhappily the issue about contraception has come up often in Republican rhetoric. It’s an issue that’s just not for politics. It’s also not an issue if a major religion has a different view about it than some politicians view. It’s private period, and if the church, any church, decides to weigh in you have to understand that while a personal matter may have become a matter the individuals adhering to that religious faith, it’s still not an issue for politics. If political groups weigh in it’s valid to ask whether they are now espousing a view that is in violation of the doctrine of separation of church and state. Republicans and others who appear to speak for them, such as bullying radio talk show hosts, are in constant violation of that principle, in addition to being outside the boundaries of polite, thoughtful discourse.

When Rick Santorum talked recently about an implied left-wing indoctrination occurring in the context of a traditional college education, he went far beyond the boundaries of good taste. Those who go to college acquire a more advanced general education and also attain skills that may help them in parts of the job market not generally open to those who don’t have a college education. That education also puts them in line for higher paying jobs and for some advanced jobs that may lead them up the leadership ladder in some firms. More often than not such success among college graduates may create socioeconomic advantage to the nation and open up yet more beneficial advantages to everyone in the country, including those who did not attend college. The nation is, in fact, trying to advance educational opportunity for those seeking technical, machine-working and other skill training to fill jobs that may be every bit as important in longer term to the nation as the jobs largely filled by college graduates. While it is likely that Mr. Santorum was not deliberately trying to drive a wedge between those who would attend college and those who would not, his thoughtless words may have had that effect.

In general, it may be fair to ask why some Republicans and their surrogates are obsessing about women’s sex lives or trying to suggest that college is just a place where left-wing subversives are educated and that no college at all ought to be equally valued. Does the GOP really want to tie in government policy to sex and education? Indeed, the extent to which such hard conservative edge strategies are explored by Republican


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